A video game to help kids beat cancer – what’s not to like?
Re-Mission 2 is a video-game for cancer patients and their families. It’s an interactive way to kick cancer nasties, score some points and basically demonstrate that joysticks do have a therapeutic benefit. It consists of six games, all which let you tackle different types of cancer, using familiar gaming tools such as bombs, guns and um, healthy blood cells. Available for MAC, PC and iPad, they’re free to play online, download and share.
A lot of data backs up the theory behind the games, a key emphasis being the idea that positive motivation helps kids stick to a treatment regimen, as positivity lights up different parts of their brain (hey, they did brain imaging to prove this). There is even an argument that game players had higher levels of chemotherapy in the blood stream, suggesting a physiological as well as mental improvement.
The sincerity behind the premise of the game can’t be questioned. Re-Mission 2 is unreservedly pro-recovery, pro information and pro-control. I like the idea for many reasons. It’s great to make cancer patients- especially children- deal with their disease in a light hearted way, and the overpowering message here is that it just takes perseverance, time and aiming practice to beat it.
Problem is, not all cancers ARE curable and I’m a little concerned that this gives false hope to some who are living with a terminal cancer. It also – and I say this as a former cancer patient- feels slightly simplistic in some ways, as it’s cool to get to level 2 by killing the evil cells, but the reality was far more painful and needle heavy. I totally get they want to encourage people, but it’s hard to play an animated game and feel it doesn’t trivialize the pain in some way. Yes, I realize it’s easy to say this without offering an alternative, but sometimes in the back slapping and ‘it’s so good they made this’ moment we forget that it’s not always the perfect fit.
Enough of the soul searching, here’s more details on the game.
Re-Mission 2 lets you play six different games, all slick looking versions of familiar platform games, simplistic Angry Birds-esque behavior in Drop the Nanobot, and a Tetris like style affair in Nanobot’s revenge.
The goal is to take on the nasties on each level, villains which get teeth and fangs as your progress through the stages, and who can shield themselves from the bombs (a.k.a drugs) you’re throwing on their heads. The games have smartly demarcated goals such as:
“Your mission: blast all kinds of cancer as a powerful microscopic nanobot.
Select from your arsenal of powerful chemo, radiation, and targeted cancer drug
attacks to crush the malignant forces of the Nuclear Tyrant. Can you stop all the
cancer cells before they escape into the blood stream?”
I also liked that though the games are extremely kid friendly, they haven’t been simplified down to an inane level, as though you can’t “die” if over run by cancer cells, you do have to try the level again, so they’re not just giving an easy win.
Re-Mission 2 is part of HopeLab, a nonprofit venture that’s highly commendable. It deals with using technology to improve health and well being.
Games can be played free online at Re-Mission 2