New video game company aims to develop therapeutic games

Devolver Digital founder Mike Wilson is teaming up with medical device expert Ryan Douglas to launch DeepWell Digital Therapeutics, a video game company that will develop games that can treat health conditions . The company will also help outside companies identify existing games that have therapeutic value, the founders said.

Video game-based tools can help with conditions such as Depression and ADHD, from research. DeepWell Digital Therapeutics plans to build on that research. “There is an amazing amount of science that has been done,” says Douglas. “We’re starting to realize exactly how healing these games are.”

Typically, a game used as therapy would be designed as therapy first, with fun or engaging game elements layered on top, he said. But DeepWell wants developers to build games in the most engaging way possible – then go in and check out how they can help treat a health condition. “Developers have found a way to bring that level of engagement and get people to do things with high intensity that medically, we have a lot of trouble with,” Douglas said. “True joy is the best therapy.”

Video games have praised are the future of medicine for at least a decade – they will be accessible and easy-to-use tools that can bring treatment into people’s homes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first prescription video game, used to treat children with ADHD, in 2020. The agency has deleted some digital therapy over the past few years, and the industry has been given a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic when the FDA allowed companies to market digital health products. without going through the usual review process.

DeepWell plans to develop its own in-house games aimed at mental health. It has a project in development and is expected to be ready in early 2023. (Douglas declined to share specifics about that project.)

But the company also aims to help video game makers do not have a specific focus on health identifies games that can benefit people’s health. Wilson had profound experience works with a host of notable indie game creators through Devolver, which has published hits like Hotline Miami, Inscryption, and Reigns. For example, DeepWell will look at whether there are parts of an existing or developing game where players must make choices in ways that may overlap with techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy. or not. It could then help figure out if there are logical ways in the game to ask players to breathe in a certain way or think in a certain way to enhance healing.

“We don’t necessarily make the game therapeutic. Games are therapeutic,” says Douglas. “And we can offer it as a therapy.”

DeepWell will identify those situations in the game and help companies get the game cleared by the FDA as a medical device. The company wants to go through the FDA first – not develop games that will be marketed as Healthcare product” but could not make any medical claims. It’s very important that games can have clear language stating their benefits, says Douglas. “We want to be able to say the things that need to be said to attract the people we think we can help.”

One challenge for digital therapies is evaluation – companies are still figuring out how best to test if the game works reliably as treatments. The products are still new and it will be rigorously conducted and researched before patients, doctors, and other stakeholders feel confident in the appropriateness of things like video games versus other stakeholders. other standard treatment options.

Digital therapy does not have to go through the same rigorous testing as drugs. Drugs have to clear a higher bar because they can be more dangerous than something like a video game if they don’t work or can have dangerous side effects. Douglas says more games will pass FDA “Significantly equivalent” processes” – that is, they can be paid because they are similar to existing tools, not because they have been proven to work on their own. He said DeepWell will do existing research on video games and mental health. “Of course, we will study our things as they become more popular in the market,” he said.

But even if they can show the games work well, therapeutic video games are not a substitute for therapists or other mental health interventions, Douglas says — games are an additional layer and the goal, for now, is to target mild and moderate mental health conditions. “There are certain things that only a trained doctor and therapist can do,” he said. “But there are a lot of places where there’s a void where we can be useful.” New video game company aims to develop therapeutic games

Fry Electronics Team

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