Fighting Leukemia in Cyber Space
Ben played video games to pass the time in the UCSF Pediatric Treatment Center when he was being treated for Leukemia. Now, he has designed his own video game, with the help of Make-a-Wish and Eric Johnston of Lucas Arts.
Ben’s game puts the hero on a skate board in the blood stream (reminiscent of “Fantastic Voyage”) to fight monsters that cause chemotherapy side effects such as rashes and hair loss.
The object is to clear each board of the monster and its cancer cells and collect shields. It’s a simple concept, but very fast paced. Fortunately, the skate board has brakes, or the game would really get out of hand.
It’s a fun little game.
The final version of the game was installed on June 29th on the computers in the Pediatric Treatment Center so the kids there can play. Ben hopes that his game will help the kids understand what cancer and chemotherapy is doing to their bodies. The game is geared for young kids; the ability to read isn’t required to play.
Doctor Seymour Zoger, who is Ben’s oncologist here at UCSF was the medical advisor for the game. He’s never played video games in the past, but has played this one a little bit. Not all the way through, though.
There are reviews of the game on many websites, with links back to Make-a-Wish, including Apple computers. The game can be played on PCs or MACs. Dr. Zoger thinks this game might “have potential outside of the oncology community.” The game can be downloaded from the make-a-wish web site, and will always be available for free. One of the administrative assistants in the Pediatric Oncology office wishes that the game could be marketed for GameBoy Advance.