Four game-changing examples of medical training games



Gaming skills and medical skills have striking similarities. In the emergency room, you need to work well together and make the right decisions in a split-second. In the popular soccer game, Rocket League, you have to be able to do this as well.  A surgeon needs fine motor skills to operate accurately. Serious games have been proven effective for medical purposes. In this article, we share four examples of successful serious game and gamification solutions for medical training.

1. Neon Conduit: practicing laser therapy on your smartphone

We all know the popular game Guitar Hero, where you can practice your guitar skills and learn new songs. Neon Conduit is a similar game in which you have to hit all the beats at the right time on a laser-controlled rhythm. Like Guitar Hero, Neon Conduit has an important purpose besides entertainment. It is a serious game for urologists to practice GreenLight XPS procedures (a laser treatment at the ureter).

Green Light Laser vaporization of the prostate involves surgically vaporizing prostate tissue. The goal of this surgery is to remove tissue so that there is enough room to urinate normally. Operations with the Green Light Laser must be performed accurately. The laser should not come too close to the skin, but also not too far from it. And to make the treatment go smoothly, accurate hand movements are needed. This takes a lot of practice.

The objective of Neon Conduit

Neon Conduit is a challenging rhythm game designed to familiarize urologists with the motor skills for a successful GreenLight XPS procedure. The game was not created to teach a full laser procedure, but to improve the motor skills required in a GreenLight XPS procedure. The more it is played, the better a urologist knows what the perfect sweep speed, sweep angle and distance from the skin is.

An impression of Neon Conduit:

Neon Conduit

2. SimWars: simulation game for emergency care

Twenty-two healthcare professionals from different teams are at their posts. Mixed teams with doctors, nurses, and ambulance staff. Some with years of experience, others still students. Suddenly, a man appears. He shouts, “Code Blue! Team X upstairs! Room 1!” The team flies up the stairs and begins their first test scenario in SimWars.

SimWars is a medical simulation game in which different clinical care providers compete against each other. The teams must complete various simulated challenges in front of a large audience. While the healthcare personnel play the simulation game under high pressure, the audience watches and take down notes. Afterwards, the teams and the audience discuss the events and a jury gives an overall score.

SimWars is a completely different solution than, for example, the serious game Neon Conduit. In serious games mimicking reality is not always possible. It is less important that it is as realistic as possible. Simulations are sometimes used to depict real situations, as is the case with SimWars. What makes SimWars so strong is that they play the simulation in competition and involve the public. First, this makes it more fun to play. The teams want to get the best score. Second,  the gaming environment with the audience puts extra pressure on the participating teams. Performing under pressure is an important skill in medical care.

The objective of SimWars

SimWars is a simulation game and role-playing game for clinical healthcare providers. The goal of the competition is to improve the general medical knowledge and skills of participating healthcare workers. Participants practice their skills in emergency situations and improve their team communication skills.

Take a peek into the world of SimWars:

The results of SimWars

Since 2017, Simwars has grown into a national, Irish competition for acute medical care and surgical situations. The competition is an effective method for healthcare staff to practice their medical skills, learn from others and improve collaboration with colleagues in hectic situations.

3. Code Orange: how to prepare for a catastrophic disaster?

For many of us, the images of the Italian hospitals at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic are still sharp in our minds. A mass influx of patients led to a shortage in hospital beds and medical staff. Unfortunately, disasters are a regular occurrence worldwide. How does a hospital prepare for a catastrophic disaster?

Objective of Code Orange

CodeOrange is an immersive simulation game for hospital staff to prepare for catastrophic disasters. The game is built using the Hospital Emergency Incident Command System (HEICS) protocol and is therefore very realistic.

You are standing in a virtual hospital and suddenly hear that there has been a nuclear explosion in the area. Thousands of residents have been injured or died. In 15 minutes the first wave of patients will arrive at the hospital: by ambulance, helicopter, car and on foot. It is the player’s job to save lives by cooperating with colleagues and executing the protocol for mass disasters as good as possible.

Take a peek into the world of Code Orange:

The results of Code Orange

The simulation game provides medical personnel with a safe environment to practice on catastrophic emergencies. For medics, the game is a lot more fun than flipping through a booklet on the disaster plan. Of course, players hope they never have to use the knowledge they have gained, but once a major disaster does occur, as many lives as possible can be saved.

4. Underground: practicing laparoscopic surgical procedures in a game

For surgeons, practicing their skills is not that easy. They cannot practice quietly on a living person or animal, because one mistake can be fatal. The most common solution then is to practice on a simulator. However, research has shown that students and surgeons have little motivation to train on simulators. They indicate that the main reason for this is that simulations are often predictable and boring. In addition, complex simulators are regularly unavailable due to periodic maintenance.

Objective of Underground

Still, a surgeon needs to practice 200 hours a year to keep their surgical skills and motor skills up to date. Is a serious game the solution? One of the most important characteristics of video games is that they are unpredictable and positively reward progress, which contributes to intrinsic motivation to continue playing.

The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and Grendel Games set to work with these challenges.

UMCG and Grendel Games developed ‘Underground’. In an exciting world, the surgeons place themselves in ‘Sari’, a brave girl who must free her robot friend ‘Sw4nk’ from the mines. With a custom-made laparoscopic controller, the surgeons must complete levels in which they improve their motor skills.

Take a peek into the world of Underground:

The results of Underground

Underground has been a great success, both for surgeons and for the hospital. Surgeons can practice in a safe environment, where making a mistake is no big deal. The game story and the levels are so entertaining that they are better trained and experience less work pressure. With the serious game Underground, the UMCG can train more personnel simultaneously and no longer needs the expensive, unused training simulators.

The serious game ‘Underground’ has won the Dutch Game Award twice and has been proclaimed by Forbes as a ‘game that can change the world’. Find out more!

Serious games for medical training work!

In this article, you have seen examples of games for medical training. Both simulation games and serious games. All examples have three similarities: they are fun, challenging and an effective way to train medical personnel.

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Want to know more about serious games for medical purposes? Please contact Tim Laning to discuss it: