July 27, 2012
Adopt a secret identity, recruit allies, and slay YOUR cancer!
BY Michael Fisch M.D.
I grew up playing games with my friends. I wanted to play any kind of physical game (sports), or board games (Stratego, Monopoly, Battleship, Chess) as long as there was a winner and a loser in the end.
As an adult, I like sports but I no longer have the patience to play board games or video games -- for whatever reason.
The practice of using games for health care purposes is being referred to as "gamification." I doubted that I would have much patience for gamification in my professional or personal life, but recently I've learned about two kinds of "games" in health care that I find fascinating. First, my colleague, Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D. sent me a link to a TED talk link that I found mesmerizing.
I found it mesmerizing because:
- The speaker, a survivor of a serious health problem, invented a game to get better ("Jane: the concussion slayer").
- She then developed a gaming approach to fostering "post-traumatic growth" -- the game is Superbetter.
- The game goes like this: adopt a secret identity, recruit your own allies, and battle YOUR illness
- In the end, this talk is entertaining and gives 4 practical tips for building your physical, mental, emotional, and social resilience. I can share these tips with patients (and friends, family, and....me)
The other game that I came across is a card game.
My colleague, Jamie von Roenn, MD, from Northwestern University was teaching health professionals in a course about palliative care. One part of her teaching included giving us a deck of cards called "Go Wish" cards. In this deck of 36 cards, each card has a wish statement on it concerning some kind of end of life wish that a person might have.
For example a card might say; "to be free of pain", "to be able to pray" or "not being a financial burden to my family." There were also some wild cards.
The game involved sorting these cards into 3 piles: things that are really important to me, things that are somewhat important, and things that are not so important. We did this in groups of 2 or 3 and then discussed the top 10 cards in our "really important" pile.
This game is available online for free.
For me, playing was an emotional and humbling experience. Humbling because I realized that nobody knows my way of thinking about such things unless they ask me, and I don't know about theirs until I ask either.
Overall, I am ready to see gamification through a new lens, even if my eyes are getting older.