Sea Hero Quest: how a new mobile game can help us understand dementia

This is where a team led by Professor Michael Hornberger at UEA and Dr Hugo Spiers at UCL come in. At the start of May, they launched a new mobile game called Sea Hero Quest. The game puts you in the shoes of an unnamed sailor, whose father is slowly losing memories of his life as a seafaring explorer. To try and help him remember his past, your job is to travel around cartoon waterways in search of pieces of his old journal. At the start of a level, you’re given a top-down map of the waterways that shows a number of buoy markers you need to navigate through. Once you’ve memorised it, you simply need to sail your ship around the 3D world and hit each buoy in numerical order. The information about the route you take, and what you do if you get lost, is saved and transmitted for further analysis.

“The idea was to create a global benchmark for navigation behaviour in healthy people on a population level,” says Professor Hornberger. “The perfect way to do this was via online gaming, as many online games use virtual reality and can be played anywhere.” By getting this sort of data in a huge sample of people, the idea is that Hornberger and Spiers can gain a more nuanced insight into whether there are any differences in how people of different ages, sex and even geographical location navigate. “For example, what is the normal navigation for a 55 year old man from England?” Hornberger explains. “The game is meant to be challenging, as we want to see how healthy people navigate and get lost. This will then inform new approaches towards dementia diagnosis and management.”

Source: Sea Hero Quest: how a new mobile game can help us understand dementia

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