Gaming tech is being used as a tool to improve healthcare and education.

Researchers from Imperial College London have created a game called Balloon Buddies to support the rehabilitation of people who have suffered from conditions including strokes. In tests, the game benefited patients when they played with someone else to build a score, rather than in single player mode. While the test group was small – 16 patients and 32 healthy participants – the patients performed better when working with someone else.

Dr Michael Mace, lead author from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, said: “Video games are a great way of providing repetitive exercise to help patients recover from debilitating illnesses. However, most games are designed for users to play on their own, which can actually discourage and isolate many patients. We developed the Balloon Buddy game to enable patients to train with their friends, family or caregivers in a collaborative and playful manner. The technology is still being developed, but we have shown that playing jointly with another individual may lead to increased engagement and better outcomes for patients.”

Two more London universities, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Kingston University, partnered on Cigbreak Free earlier this year, a smartphone game which is designed to ‘gamify health messages and behaviour change techniques‘.

While a collaboration between City University of New York, New York University, and Turkey’s Bahcesehir University demonstrated that digital games can enhance educational achievement and mental health indicators among refugee children.

And a team from University of Texas at Dallas used Minecraft to teach chemistry to students studying various other subjects. It showed gamers became surprisingly proficient in processes for which they had no prior instruction.