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Video games

Beyond gaming: virtual reality in healthcare

27 Mar, 14 | by BMJ

Following the high profile purchase of WhatsappFacebook has made yet another acquisition. The company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which found success on Kickstarter (and has since been the darling of the indie tech scene) was bought for $2bn this week.

Although gaming is a cornerstone of Facebook’s business, Mark Zuckerburg’s statement shows that he has further reaching ambitions for virtual reality (VR):

“Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.…This is really a new communication platform.”

In fact, healthcare is already a big adopter of virtual reality, with applications already in surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery and skills training. 

Soldiers trying out Virtual Iraq


Kinect: a surgical revolution?

27 Jun, 12 | by BMJ

Following on from a previous post exploring video games in health care, one gaming technology in particular has generated a lot of interest in the past few months. Kinect, the motion sensing input device by Microsoft, enables users to control and interact with their computer without the need to touch a game controller.

Last month, Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital began trials of a new device that uses a Kinect camera to sense body position. Just by moving his arms, a surgeon can consult and sort through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, whilst operating.


Video games and health: research offers fresh perspective

4 May, 12 | by BMJ

Video games have come under attack by the mainstream media in the past few weeks, with extensive coverage of Anders Breivik’s apparent use of first-person shooter games as training aids before the Utoya massacre. Conversely, health researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the positive attributes of certain computer games.


This week’s most popular BMJ article looks at SPARX; a new cognitive behavioural therapy based computer game for young people with depression.

Researchers from the University of Auckland found that adolescents suffering from depression can benefit just as much from specialised computer therapy as they do from one-to-one therapy with a clinician.

SPARX is an interactive 3D fantasy game, similar to World of Warcraft, where a single user undertakes a series of challenges to restore balance in a virtual world dominated by GNATs (Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts).


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