Video games – an industry that generated $131 billion in 2018 and projected to grow as much as $300 billion by 2025. The industry has been a driving force in the world of technology for many years. Now, the world of gaming has hit a new milestone. Akili Interactive’s EndeavorRX has become the first video game to be marketed and prescribed as medicine in the United States.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the game is meant to treat ADHD patients from ages 8-12 years old. The FDA gave the green light following a review of data from five clinical studies conducted over 600 children.
“with EndeavorRx, we’re using technology to help treat a condition in an entirely new way as we directly target neurological function through medicine that feels like entertainment.”– Eddie Martucci, CEO of Akili
One of these five studies showed that one-third of the children “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention” following one month of EndeavorRX treatment. The study also specified that after two months of treatment, 68% of parents witnessed “clinically meaningful change in their child’s day-to-day impairments”.
However, this study was conducted by doctors under Akii’s employment. At the same time, their own conclusion state that the results are insufficient to suggest EndeavorRX is an alternative to the already established and recommended treatments. But even so, the prospect of a video game being offered as a legal medical treatment is a promising one for the industry.
The game is built on what the company calls Akili Selective Stimulus Management engine core technology. This is a proprietary technology meant for the “targeted activation of specific neural systems in the brain to treat diseases with associated cognitive dysfunction”.
As Eddie Martucci, CEO of Akili, mentions that Akili is “excited to offer families a first-of-its-kind non-drug treatment option and take an important first step toward our goal to help all people living with cognitive issues.”
Not the first?
Incidentally, this is not the first time the FDA approved a video game as a prescription in the US. In 2010, Bayer Diabetes Care launched DIDGET. This was a glucose monitoring system that connected with the Nintendo DS. Kids were given points for testing their glucose levels and these were eligible for unlocking exclusive game content.
In 2009, Nintendo showcased the Wii Vitality Sensor at E3. The idea was to measure a player’s pulse rate and biometric stimulation. By 2013, Nintendo abandoned the project. The issue came down to the device’s reliability. It was reported that the Wii Vitality Sensor worked for 90% of test subjects. But the problem lied with the other 10%.
Fast forward to 2020, an FDA approved game is about to hit the US market following years of testing and development. Akili Interactive states that the EndeavorRX treatment will be made available to families soon. The treatment comes under the Endeavor Care Program. This program also includes Akili Care, a mobile tracking app and personal support services for caregivers.
Though the company opened the game for a limited number of families, EndeavorRX is yet to officially launch. However, interested parties in the US can join the waiting list. Once available, users can download and use EndeavorRX directly from the App Store.