Mobile game Sea Hero Quest as a way to fight with Alzheimer disease

There are a lot of opinions about harm and use and other effects on the body caused by computer games. Some of them state that games are evil and you should run away from them whereas the others say the opposite. Anyway, recently PNAS magazine has published a research that showed people that computer games can be useful and they can help to conduct experiments and a sort of medical diagnostics.

Today we are going to explore one of such unusual examples and the instrument of the research team that published their report was the game Sea Hero Quest.

So, what is Sea Hero Quest? It is a mobile game that came out in 2016 and uses a technology of virtual reality. It was developed by the company Glitchers that had released several mobile entertainment applications before that. It’s worth noting that Glitchers made the project not alone but together with the company Deutsche Telekom, and also together with few European universities. Sea Hero Quest was the first game in history that helped scientists to fight with dementia with the help of detection of their early or easy symptoms.

Dementia is an acquired amentia. The process of decay of mental functions going on as a result of brain damage [Wikipedia].

An interesting fact is that the developed game can detect the symptoms that can’t be found by standard medical diagnostic procedures.

When players get to the Sea Hero Quest world, they get placed in the boat getting a map with marked spots for a time and players need to track ways to the spots. After that the system removes you the map from players making them navigate using their memory.

According to the data represented by the universities, due to the difficulty of the game, every two minutes spent in the game can equal five hours of lab researches. More than three million people managed to play Sea Hero Quest over three years. If we sum up all the time spent by them in the mobile game, we can equal it to 1700 years of research data about Alzheimer.

Researchers divided all players into two groups. The first group included regular players that might have no predisposition to Alzheimer's disease. The second group was represented by people having a genom APOE4. Doctors think this can be the reason of the dementia. After the division of players into groups, their results were compared all the time.

The professor Michael Hornberger told that APOE4 carrier oriented in the space worse than people with a high risk of dementia development. It was obvious as all APOE4 carriers chose the least effective routes for achieving the spots that were made goals in the game by the developers.

Basing on the existing data, the researchers defined the basic indicator that will make it possible to compare the results of the tests. The main aim of this research is to get a chance to find people that are able to develop a dementia before they get a nastier form of the disease and start suffering symptoms of the later stages.

Probably, in the future other ways of using computer games in medical, researching and diagnosing aims will be discovered. It can be something that classical methods haven’t been able to achieve yet.