Gaming for Good

by | Jul 4, 2016 | Blog

Computer games have come a long way from arcade machines and basic home computers. These days, gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry going head to head with blockbuster movies in terms of revenue and public appeal. Games can however be much more than mere entertainment. More and more people are realising the enormous potential games have to help with learning; from basic developmental tasks to coping skills, and even empathy!

It was just a matter of time before research into remediation for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) deficits also made this important connection. There has been some exciting work done in Canada that has shown great promise, but there is still a lot of work and research to do.

South Africa has the highest prevalence of FASD worldwide. The need for remedial programmes is immense, but the resources are simply not available. That is why we set out to create our own game, with the South African context in mind. With a focus on independent play, needing as little resources as possible and being available as widely as possible we believe we can bring remedial games to areas where it is not possible at present.

To make sure that our intervention is not “snake oil” we are doing our research and evaluation as we go along and changing what needs to be changed. We are almost ready to do our first pilot to see how the game is received by children, and then we can build on our findings to make it ready for a small trial to see if it is effective. The beta version of the game is done and has successfully been deployed to Android tablets, so we are ready to go.

What we need at this stage is input from experts in the field of executive functioning and remediation, and we are honoured to have so many people interested in this project. We still need to recruit healthy children in the Cape metropole and will be looking for crèches willing to participate.

It is incredibly exciting to think that we could make a difference in thousands of children’s lives and help them achieve. It is however important to remember that it is possible to prevent FASD completely. As prevention is better than remediation, make a point of telling someone today that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink at any time during pregnancy!

Jaco Louw, Project Lead, Fighting FASD