When I was growing up, I was always told that video games were detrimental to your health: addictive, “bad for your eyes”, and a general waste of time. While some of those concerns may be true when taken to extremes, games are now also being recognised for their positive properties – and one game has been approved for prescription as a medicine in the US.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for approving medications in the US, has authorised doctors to prescribe a game called EndeavorRX to kids between eight and 12 with inattentive or combined-type ADHD (via The Verge). Made by Akili Interactive, the company says the mobile game had a noticeable effect on improving attention span, with one of the five studies finding a third of children “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention” after four weeks of treatment. About half of parents reported a “clinically meaningful change in their child’s day-to-day impairments” after one month, a number that increased to 68 per cent after a second month of treatment.
So, what is EndeavorRX actually about? It’s an endless-runner for iPhone and iPad built on the Akili Selective Stimulus Management engine, which is designed to target specific neural systems in the brain that play a key role in attention function, while using “adaptive algorithms to personalise the treatment experience for each individual patient” (with each level optimised for the player).