“Games may be effective for surgical training”



At first glance, a shooter game seems to have little in common with laparoscopic surgery. Yet they have something in common: You have a tool in your hands that allows you to make precise movements while looking at a screen. Medical students at the University of Ottawa, Canada, concluded in a study that games may be effective for students’ surgical training.

One of the researchers, Arnav Gupta, said when he gets home after a long day, he likes to play games to relax. He has been playing games since he was eight years old, for entertainment. He is convinced that video games can be used for more than just entertainment, especially in surgical training. “I’m not kidding when I say that games like Fortnite have potential to improve motor skills for medical students,” Gupta says.

“Given the limited availability of simulators and the high accessibility of video games, games can be a valuable supplemental training tool to improve surgical skills,” Gupta says.

Gupta and his colleagues reviewed 16 studies involving 575 participants. The literature review indicated that “being a gamer” in robotic surgery was associated with faster completion time, finer motor skills, and improved overall performance.

In laparoscopic surgery, training via games was associated with increased accuracy, finer motor skills, and also faster completion time. A number of games seem to have a positive impact on robotic or laparoscopic surgery students: Super Monkey Ball, Half Life, Rocket League and Underground.

Image: surgeons improve their fine motor skills in the game Underground

Underground, a serious game from Grendel Games, is designed specifically for surgeons in training. With a custom-made laparoscopic controller, surgeons train their motor skills in a fascinating game world. The serious game is not only effective for improving motor skills; surgeons are a lot more motivated to play the game and therefore get to their required practice hours faster.

“In a first-person shooting game, you have to translate three-dimensional movements to a two-dimensional screen, which is comparable to laparoscopic surgery.”

Gupta points out that games will never provide a comparable experience to real surgery. “However, games are valuable as tools, especially to mimic important surgical movements,” Gupta continues. “In a first-person shooting game, you have to translate three-dimensional movements to a two-dimensional screen, which is comparable to laparoscopic surgery.”

Gupta’s review shows that 55% of university students are gamers and are proficient with a game console. However, many medical students indicate that they do not own a game console themselves. Gapta mentions The review also indicates that it is especially important for students to know how to play games. In any case, the integration of games in medical training is not complicated.

Additionally, the study stipulates that games have potential as a surgical training method. Nonetheless, extensive research is still needed to ascertain this. “I hope this study inspires someone to take advantage of the unique possibilities of games”, Gupta concludes.


Grendel Games aligns itself with Gupta’s conclusions and confirms the enormous opportunities of serious games for medical training. In an article of ours, we talk more about the future of healthcare training through games.


Would you like to know more about serious games for medical training or the serious game Underground? Please feel free to contact Tim Laning without any obligation:


Tim Laning

Business developer

Do you want to know more about the possibilities of serious games? Let’s discuss what serious games can do for you.


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