Bringing together patients' perspectives on eHealth and mHealth

Creating Apps or Games In A Game Jam

When at PatientView/myhealthapps we brought clinicians, developers and patients together to identify unmet needs from apps, we knew that getting the right people in the room was key. The same is true of every hackathon and game jam, pooling talents to create a game or app in the space of two or three days.

Last autumn, the Welsh National Centre for Mental Health and MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (MRC CNGG) at Cardiff University brought together mental health campaigners, video-game developers, mental health researchers and clinicians. 

The aim was to use the game format that often stigmatises mental illness to instead create games that offer accurate and positive images of mental health. The event, JAMMIND, was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Now the games are available to play. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Munzir Quraishy explained in a BBC interview that he has OCD. The game he contributed to was set up as a famous photographer with OCD who is on a remote island to photograph an animal thought to be extinct. As he travels across the island, his goal is hampered by intrusive thoughts characteristic of OCD, as Munzir explains:

“His intrusive thought is that something terrible is going to happen if he doesn’t take pictures of mushrooms. If he does, he feels calmer and more relaxed…As he does it the more it reinforces his compulsion and they get more and more frequent” – Munzir Quraishy talking to BBC News 

Games to play

There are three games available to play from the game jam:

  • Picturesque – completing the OCD animal photo quest
  • The interview – navigating to an interview on time, dealing with the strengths and limitations of common personality traits
  • Get help – exploring the life of a teenager struggling with the everyday tasks of society and trying to improve their mental state day by day.
Power of gaming

As with most hackathons and game jams, it’s remarkable what can be achieved in just a few days. The key thing is having people with mental health conditions fully involved.

I know I’ll never experience the challenges of managing my water intake in End Stage Renal Disease, nor know for real what ADHD feels like. But the video games I’ve played on these have given me at least a little insight into what some of the challenges are.

As Munzir Quaraishy comments after JAMMIND:

“What video games can do is help you get in the shoes of someone with a mental health problem.” – Munzir Quraishy talking to BBC News 

NEXT STEPS:

Watch the BBC News interview with Muniz Quraishy about how his game reflects OCD at…

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Read the National Centre for Mental Health account of setting up the game jam at…

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Download and play the three games developed at…

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