The World's First Prescription Video Game Has Been Approved

The FDA has approved a game designed for kids with ADHD.


While EndeavorRX, a game by therapy-focused studio Akili Interactive may not be groundbreaking for its graphics or its gameplay, it just broke new ground by becoming the first video game that can legally be marketed and prescribed as medication in the USA.

EndeavorRX--with RX being the medical notation for prescription--is a game for iPhone and iPad that can now legally be prescribed by doctors. Designed for children between the ages of eight and 12 who have inattentive or combined-type ADHD, the game went through six years of clinical trials before finally receiving FDA approval.

The most favorable study showed that one in three of the children studied in clinical trials "no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention," after they played Endeavor for 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks straight.

Of course, while the study showed the game could help with the effects of ADHD, the results still aren't comparable with traditional, medication-based treatments. The study's conclusion warns that the results "are not sufficient to suggest that AKL-T01 should be used as an alternative to established and recommended treatments for ADHD."

The game itself focuses on dodging obstacles and collecting items, pretty standard gameplay for a number of different genres. However, Endeavor's website claims it's "different from other action video games that a child might play," with a trial against an unnamed control game showing almost zero effect from the control.

"The treatment programmed into the game was scientifically designed to challenge a child's brain during treatment requiring the child’s attention and focus on multiple tasks at the same time," the website explains, though there isn't much detail as to how the design of Endeavor is different from other task-based games.

Endeavor's FDA approval is a big step forward for the idea of games as treatment or therapy, and they're not the only ones working on medicinal video games. French game studio Ubisoft is currently working on a prescription video game designed to treat Amblyopia, or "lazy eye", in partnership with medical company Amblyotech.

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