Can a Virtual Reality Puzzle Game Help in the Fight Against Dementia?

can a virtual reality game help in the fight against dementia

There have been many articles published that champion the use of games and puzzles in the fight against dementia.  The argument goes that by keeping the brain active you reduce the risk of the onset of dementia.  Well could that theory have taken a step forward with the announcement today of a virtual reality puzzle game that could be used as a diagnostic tool for dementia.  But can a virtual reality puzzle game help in the fight against dementia?

That certainly is the hope of the team of researchers behind the game Sea Hero Quest VR.

The game immerses the player in a virtual world in which they are challenged to captain a boat through various tasks.  The tasks are designed to test very precisely your navigational skills.

The game collects data on a users performance from which the researchers can create a benchmark of standard performance.  If this can be achieved it is hoped that the game can be used as a diagnostic tool for early onset dementia.

The researchers from University College London and the University of East Anglia have said that 2 minutes playing the game gives them more data about the player than if that player had given 2 hours of their time in person.

The virtual reality version of the game will give more detailed results on what is already the World’s biggest dementia experiment.  The existing Sea Hero Quest smartphone app has already collected data from 3 million participants since its launch in May 2016.

However, the researchers have described the virtual reality version of Sea Hero Quest as a more immersive environment which gives a better diagnostic assessment of navigational ability.

The game, which was funded by Deutsche Telekom and created by game designers Glitchers is currently only compatible with the Samsung Gear VR Headsets but is available to download for free from the Oculus Store.

With 850,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and an aging population increasing this number, Alzeheimer’s Research UK hope that this innovative approach will accelerate progress in the understanding of dementia.


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