Monday, September 9, 2013

Re-Mission 2 Gives Kids with Cancer a Helping Hand


Some of you may have heard of Re-Mission, a PC game released in 2006 that was designed to help kids with cancer better understand their disease and the treatment process. Well now it's 2013 and the developers at HopeLab are taking their game to the next level, by releasing the sequel, Re-Mission 2.

The original Re-Mission game is one of the few games out there with a scientifically proven educational efficacy. In a randomized control trial conducted in collaboration with a team of cancer epidemiologists, health psychologists, cancer biologists, and oncology physicians, the game was shown to have improved treatment adherence and boosted self-efficacy in young cancer patients compared to a control group. You can read these 2008 findings in the journal Pediatrics.

Re-Mission 2 hopes to follow up on the success of the original in continuing to motivate young cancer patients to stick to their treatments by boosting self efficacy, fostering positive emotions, and shifting attitudes about chemotherapy, all while still appealing to as broad of a gaming audience as possible. And whereas the original Re-Mission was a Windows-only game, the collection of 6 casual games that comprises Re-Mission 2 are all web-accessible, as well as being available for iOS and Android mobile devices.

As though it weren't enough to say you've created a game that helps kids with cancer better adhere to their treatment programs and be better informed about their illness, I have to say I am happily impressed by HopeLab's overt commitment to making these games freely available to all young cancer patients. Too often, the games with proven educational efficacy never reach a mass audience. They are developed with only limited compatibility in mind, or they seem to disappear into some kind of research-institute-limbo after the research studies have been conducted, the papers published, and the grant money dried up.

But right now HopeLab is working directly with hospitals and clinics to make Re-Mission 2 available free of charge to young cancer patients as they go through treatment. Not to mention they're all currently available to play online. If you know someone who might benefit from these games, or just want to check them out yourself, you can play the games on Re-Mission 2's website, through the iTunes store, and through the Google Play store.

I gave all of these games a quick play online. In my opinion, Nanobot's Revenge definitely stands out among the rest. I don't know that it would help me beat cancer, but it certainly is a quality webgame, with reasonable easy-to-master controls and a good challenge-progression balance. I imagine on an iPad, it's even easier and more fun to play. Other games, like Leukemia, were still fun, but a bit too frenetic for me, to the point that I had difficulty easily discriminating good items like cells, from the bad guys. Still, these are small criticisms of an overall enjoyable collection of games.

For more coverage of Re-Mission 2, see the BBC's video report on the project. You can also read more about HopeLab's approach to the Re-Mission series via their article in the International Journal of Learning and Media.