Sea hero quest: playful dementia research

sea hero questLots of games have no result except the pleasure the player gets out of it. But there is an increase of games that help science in some way. Yisela has already written an article about some of them; in games for science. This article is about a brand new game by University College London, University of East Anglia, and Alzheimer’s Research UK, for dementia research. No, you are not going to get your demented uncle to play it; you play it.

The basic idea is to study spatial navigation. In people with dementia, this is often one of the first problems they have. So the researchers hope to learn about how normal people navigate, and enable them to create a spatial test that can aid in diagnosis.

heatmap generated by sea hero quest
heatmap generated by sea hero quest

To BBC, Dr. Hugo Spiers says that in his lab, he could test 200 people a year, but with this game, he tested 200 in one minute. The path you take in the game, are anonymously collected and heat maps are generated. The data provided will give researchers access to a massive open-source data set; something they could only dream about with conventional volunteers in lab tests. Eventually, they want people playing while being scanned, and eventually, this data will help in understanding navigation.

..and one really cool thing: the researchers are expecting to share the first findings by the end of the year. Not only can you contribute, but you can also follow the research and learn what they learned from what you learned :) They hope to have 100.000 players by the end of the year. Surely that is nothing, on a global scale.

Go on – download it and take it for a spin. If it is boring (which it is not), you can always find another game that helps science.

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