Serious Games: Gaming for Fragile X Syndrome

CITRIS has been an excellent vehicle for bringing researchers from different campuses and disciplines together to produce technologies and services that can improve the health of Californians.  A notable example of this work is Gaming for Fragile X Syndrome.  The project goal is to design and research a low-cost intervention and assessment tool for the treatment of Fragile X Syndrome, a hereditary mental illness. The tool is formatted as a casual interactive game that can be played online as well as on cell phones.

The project grew out of the CITRIS-sponsored Scientific Colloquium for Healthcare, Engineering and Medicine (SCHEME), and was also Seed Funded by CITRIS.  Led by two professors from the UC Berkeley Center for New Media, Greg Neimeyer and Kimiko Ryokai, as well as Dr. Randi Hagerman, Medical Director of the UC Davis MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute, the researchers successfully produced a game that allows clinicians to study the ability of children to track multiple objects.  In addition, the research demonstrates the therapeutic effect of game play.  The researchers are setting out to make the game available to the youngest possible players at the lowest cost, with the goal to reach disadvantaged inner-city and rural populations.  Collaboration has expanded between the UC Berkeley and UC Davis teams, additional funding has been secured to support game development, and the research team has prepared an application to NSF for additional funds.