MY LIFE WALKTHROUGH

Therapeutic game prototype, 2012

Joanna McHugh [IE], Eamonn Newman [IE], Des O’Mahoney [IE] & Lee Tobin [IE]

My Life Walkthough is a platform adventure game version of the popular lifebook format used in reminiscence therapies for older adults with dementia. Reminiscence therapy is a format which acknowledges that older adults with dementia may not remember the recent past, but their retention for early life is good. Building upon recall of early events has been shown to improve communication and mood among older adults with dementia, and can even improve their memory of later life events. This type of memory is known as autobiographical memory. This project aims to improve autobiographical memory among older adults with dementia by creating an interactive, video game version of the traditionally paper-based lifebook. Research shows that anything that increases processing at the stage of input also ultimately improves the recall of that input later on. We aim to involve the older adult with dementia as much as possible with MyLife, since they have to respond to multiple questions about their life and provide details. A form of rehearsal will then take place when the game story has been generated, where the person will have the opportunity to roam around the 2D platform world of MyLife, interacting with other characters [their loved ones], and experiencing major life events [e.g. the birth of their children, their workplace]. This will be achieved by creating a toolbox of potential parameters for the individual’s life story. At prototype stage, the game is a simple but interactive, fun and rewarding opportunity for people to engage with memory. This format also promotes intergenerational interactions, since children and grandchildren will be eager to involve themselves in the video game format.

MY LIFE WALKTHROUGH Photo: Ruža Leko

"“The work at hand is an originally developed game with a serious purpose; to improve communication and reinforce autobiographical memory in older adults with dementia. This work represents one of the many functions that a game can fulfil, and future directions in using games to improve cognitive functioning. We hope that the display of this game prototype in Science Gallery will alert the general public to the important cognitive benefits of video games, in particular to an unlikely and hitherto overlooked cohort: older adults.”"

—Joanna McHugh [IE], Eamonn Newman [IE], Des O’Mahoney [IE] & Lee Tobin [IE]