03.21.12

Videogames come to the war effort in more ways than training simulations.

The use of videogames by the military has long be a subject of criticism and curiosity by journalists and those who view games solely as purveyors of entertainment. Now a new trend seems to be starting for application of games to soldiers' lives: as a form of therapy for recovering veterans. The Christian Science Monitor reports on the issue

Ms. Meehan uses a game called Big Brain Academy, which schools use as well. Since 2006, the VA has used it for vets like Mr. Kidd.

"Start with Covered Cages," Meehan tells him.

Six cages pop up on the screen. Three have birds in them. Suddenly, covers hide the cages. On the screen, the cages begin switching order. It's a therapeutic shell game. Which cages hold the birds? Kidd isn't fooled. He clicks on three and gets a green check.

Later, they switch to a harder test. Kidd sees faces peeking around a corner. Then he sees a bunch of faces. Kidd needs to pick the ones he's seen. He's been practicing at home.

"His scores have gone up," Meehan says.

There are still some levels that give Kidd trouble. "I gotta work harder," he says.

He will do that both here and at home where, unlike Iraq, his battle is personal.

This mirrors a larger trend in videogame design and play for therapeutic and health benefits. Will games soon be used for humanitarian relief efforts as well? Now that people realize games aren't just meant to be fun, it's hard to imagine all the possible iterations for health care in the coming years.

[via The Christian Science Monitor]