Game On! The Influence of Computer Simulations on Understanding of Cancer-Based Therapies

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Florida Southern College
Re-Mission 1, developed by HopeLab Industries, is a computer game that can be used by pediatric cancer patients to educate and prepare them for what they will experience both with cancer progression and from treatment (Tate, Haritatos, & Cole, 2009). Pediatric patients who play this game were found to have improved motivation and self-understanding of their illness (Kato, Cole, Bradlyn, & Pollack, 2008). Seeing the success of Re-Mission 1, HopeLab Industries developed Re-Mission 2, which is a series of six different games, including Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge. The purpose of the present study was to see if Re-Mission 2 leads to understanding of cancer physiology in the same way as Re-Mission 1 and assess the generalizability of the educational benefits of Re-Mission to other populations (i.e., college students). Furthermore, another purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of text- based materials and game-based materials in terms of their educational value. Fifty-five undergraduate psychology students (37 females and 18 males) were recruited from a small, liberal arts college in the Southeastern United States. The participants were divided into two conditions (text-based or game-based). Those in the game-based condition (27 total) were asked to complete 5 levels of Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge. They were also given a packet containing instructions on how to play the game as well as descriptions of each character and what they represented in terms of cancer physiology. Those in the text-based condition (28 total) were only given a text passage to read, which had the same information that was included in the game-based condition packet, excluding the game instructions. All the participants completed a test for understanding of cancer physiology and treatments before and after they were exposed to an experimental condition. The test included seven multiple choice questions and five short answer questions related to cancer physiology and treatment. The short answer questions were scored from zero to three (zero being “A completely incorrect answer with no description” to three “An accurate answer that is clearly supported with ample description”). According to the results, there was not a significant difference in pre-test scores between the text-based and game- based conditions (p > 0.05) regardless of the question type (multiple choice or short answer). Furthermore, the post-test scores were significantly higher than the pre-test scores, regardless of condition and for both types of questions (p < 0.05). Also, the text-based condition was approaching significance in terms of being more effective than then game-based condition, regardless of question type (p < 0.06). In conclusion, while both the text-based and game-based methods were effective educational tools for teaching participants about cancer physiology and treatment, text-based method was approaching significance in terms of being more effective than the game-based method.
Honors Theses Fall 2016
Pediatric cancer patients, Re-Mission games, Computer games