Watching some late night news in my Seattle hotel room I saw a fascinating story about a young boy named Ben Duskin, an enthusiastic gamer who suffers from lukemia. Early during his treatment, his doctor suggested he find ways to visualize his body healing. Ben and his mother talked about imagining his medicine as a Pac Man video game, eating the cancer cells.
Ben wrote to the Make a Wish foundation with his idea of creating a video game to help other kids endure their cancer treatments. The Make a Wish foundation were then approached by Eric Johnston, of the San Francisco-based LucasArts who worked hand-in-hand with Ben to design the game.
The result was the production of “Ben’s Game,” which became a reality in June 2004. The game is available free to download, and is available for Mac or PC. Downloading the game took seconds to complete, and is engaging once you start playing – I’ll look forward to trying it out with my resident games player when I return home 🙂
4 thoughts on “Ben’s Game”
This is great, but what happens when you lose? You can’t have a game in which it’s only possible to win (where’s the challenge in that?), but having a game in which you lose ground to the cancer monster is surely going to have an adverse effect on your positive visualisation. I’m not a great believer in visualisation in this context, but it does strike me as a bit of a dilemma.
Interesting question Karen – I guess the key motivation for Ben was to create a game that helped explaing what the medication and process of treatment was doing in these kid’s bodies, rather than give them the impression that the outcome will be healing or remission. When you play through the game you’ll become aware of how each of the treatments impacts the body, and what some of the potential side effects are. I must confess, I didn’t play it through to any sort of end point, so I’m not aware of quite how it finishes up – if at all.
Thanks for posting this Derek. What a great idea for a game. When one of our kids had cancer the nurses offered for us to watch a training video they had about a pacman type creature (the chemo) who fought cancer. It not only taught stuff about cancer, genes, DNA etc but also gave us great tool for visualisation during the tough times. And that was just from watching a video. So actually being able to play this game would have to be even more powerful. And all three of our kids who watched this flew through Biology at secondary school after the grounding this video gave them.
Thanks for posting this Derek.