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Can This Video Game Really Cure Dementia: Sea Hero Quest Can Help Fight Dementia, Says Researchers

Update Date: May 05, 2016 06:52 AM EDT
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Video games are normally criticized for eating up the times of anyone, either through their mobile device or standard PC. These days, smartphones and tablets have made it easier for anyone to get hooked to available mobile games, both arcade and simulated genres.

With that in mind, games would not immediately be tied up with any medical-based goal - that is until the researchers from the University College London found one that could potentially help folks suffering from dementia.

Dementia is known as a chronic disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury. This results in memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning. Among the early signs of dementia include that of difficulty when it comes to navigation in familiar places as well as loss of spatial awareness.

In the UK alone, there are about 850,000 people dealing with the disease and the numbers are expected to swell to as much as 2 million by the year 2050. Though researchers continue to find solutions to address the illness, a joint effort from the University College London, University of East Anglia, and Alzheimer’s Research UK together with and game developer Glitchers could have something different.

Different in the sense that it comes in the form of an arcade game called Sea Hero Quest where a player’s ability to navigate and recall are the main intent. The game setting includes areas split into five different themes where the main character is tasked to go on a journey to recover and record the memories of his ageing father. The game is available on Android and iOS and is free to play.

More than £800,000 has been spent in the development and marketing of the game where experts hope that about 100,000 people will download and play the free game. If successful, the game will be able to generate 57 years’ worth of data.

Data is gathered in just two minutes of play and this will be part of the gathered information which researchers will try to a ‘normal’ pattern of behaviour.

“Providing the research community with access to an open source data set of this nature, at this scale, in such a short period of time is exactly the kind of innovation required to unlock the next breakthrough in dementia research,” says Hilary Evans, from Alzheimer’s Research UK.

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