Understanding cancer and its treatment is hard for adults, so for kids undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, it isn't always easy to understand the 'why' of it all. Re-Mission is a game developed by California-based HopeLab, who wanted to combine technology and research to find innovative health solutions. Nico Poux, now 15, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 6 years old. He has battled cancer for a big portion of his life, remembering that much of his childhood was spent in the hospital. Poux was one of the first to play Re-Mission and took part in developing the game.
“Boredom just makes you feel more terrible about the situation,” Poux said. “If you’re distracted, it takes away some of the mental effort.”
Re-Mission teaches the importance of cancer treatment by having players blast cancer cells with a chemo gun. Players can also equip the gun with different drugs, depending on their own treatment.
“The game makes them feel powerful and capable,” said Richard Tate of HopeLab. “The challenge is not that we don’t have effective treatments. The challenge is getting them to adhere to treatment.”
Child life specialist Jacob Lore says that Re-Mission offers one very important aspect to kids, that they often lose out on while spending so much time in a hospital bed.
“Play is like a kid’s work. No matter what, kids are going to play. We can’t take that away from them,” said Lore, who is often tasked with explaining cancer treatment to young children. “Re-Mission gives kids a way to learn about their condition while having fun. If they’re not aware of what’s going on and they’re forced to do everything, why would they do it?”
HopeLab has found through their own research that the game also helps in the recovery process by boosting kids' confidence and resilience. In a 2008 study, the nonprofit found that those who played Re-Mission had a better idea of how their treatment worked and were more likely to adhere to their treatment regimen.
Watch a trailer for Re-Mission in the video below.