Video games are just for fun, right? It depends on which game, if you ask a team of researchers from the UK!
Sea Hero Quest is a downloadable video game that over 4.3 million people are playing worldwide, and they are contributing to scientific research as they do it.
The game was created by game developers Glitchers in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK, the University College London, and the University of East Anglia.
As people play the game, the research team can translate 0.5 seconds of gameplay into data which can detect differences in spatial navigation that are related to changes seen in Alzheimer’s—and detect these changes early.
Based on what level you are at on Sea Hero Quest, scientists can place you in either an at-risk group or non-risk group.
Level up has a whole new meaning now!
This allows scientists a glimpse at other factors for Alzheimer’s Disease other than memory problems, which may or may not be present in early stages of the neurodegenerative disease. Spatial navigation and getting lost is one of the earliest symptoms but is often brushed off as general aging.
Together, the data from Sea Hero Quest and some genetic markers can help form a screening tool for Alzheimer’s.