For the first time in its history, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of a videogame, even though a videogame is neither food nor a drug. The game, EndeavorRx, requires a doctor’s prescription and is meant to help kids aged 8 through 12 treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.
In the trailer, it shows the player zooming along a path with obstacles, in one instance being told to focus on catching blue enemies but ignoring the red and yellow ones. This is only conjecture, but as someone with significant ADHD, I’d imagine the idea is to train kids to maintain attention on different tasks for in-game rewards such as costumes, hypothetically improving their ability to focus on tasks in the real world.
The game is not intended to replace medication for those who need it, but rather a way to treat it as an extra type of therapy. It’s also worth noting that although the game looks rather rudimentary and honestly ugly, it’s designed with treating ADHD in mind, not being the next game of the year.
The game is developed by Akili Interactive Labs, which describes itself as a “prescription digital medicine company combining scientific and clinical rigor with the ingenuity of the tech industry to reinvent medicine.”
A clinical study was done with over 600 kids, some of whom were part of the control group (which I think means they didn’t get any different treatment, but maybe it actually meant they played Remedy Entertainment’s Control) while others played EndeavorRx. The study proved the game is effective in improving “objective attention” in kids, although The Verge noted that Akili literally paid those conducting the study on the game, so that should definitely set off some red flags.
As someone whose ADHD actively had a negative impact on my childhood and was given a bunch of both conventional and experimentational therapies and medications to try to treat it, I would have been dying to try this game if it existed when I was a kid. Who’s to say if it would have helped, but for what it’s worth, the right games can be extremely cathartic to my ADHD brain. More on that in an upcoming article.
If you’re looking to try out the game for your child, you can get on the waitlist through Akili’s website, and be sure to talk to their pediatrician about it. Medications tend to have a list of possible side effects they warn you about, but hopefully this one doesn’t have too many. Maybe eyestrain?