gdc 2015

Ubisoft Teaming With Medical Researchers To Treat Lazy Eye With 3D Game

by Matt Bertz on Mar 03, 2015 at 05:01 AM

When you think Ubisoft, the first things that probably come to mind are dangerous assassins, cuddly Rabbids, and lethal covert operatives. But for its next project the French publisher is tackling a new challenge in hopes of making the world a better place.

Teaming up with McGill University and Amblyotech, Ubisoft is developing a new game to be used specifically for treating the three percent of the global population suffering from Amblyopia, which is more commonly known as lazy eye. This ocular disorder, which involves decreased vision in one eye, affects more than 9 million people in the U.S. The affected often have no 3D perception or depth of field, and if left untreated is the number one cause of monocular blindness.

To combat this problem doctors have commonly perscribed patching, where the good eye is covered in hopes of making the affected eye become more responsive. The problem with this treatment is it doens't train the brain to properly use both eyes at the same time. This is where Dig Rush comes into play.

This tablet based game requires the patient to wear stereoscopic glasses to play through a series of puzzles. Each level forces the player to use one eye to track the characters moving through the environment and the other to locate the objectives. Doctors can tune the contrast of the characters and objectives to tailor the treatment for each patient.

“The development of Dig Rush was a great opportunity for us to contribute our knowledge and skills in video game development to help materialize a breakthrough novel medical treatment,” said senior producer Mathieu Ferland. “The team from Ubisoft Montreal has been able to create a more engaging and enjoyable experience for patients being treated for Amblyopia, and we’re proud to be involved in such a positive illustration of the impact of video game technology.” 

Early results of this game treatment are promising. A whopping 90 percent of patients in focus groups reported experiencing improvement over four to six weeks of using the game. Amblyotech also reports that there is a minimal incidence of relapse.

Given the encouraging results, Amblyotech is seeking FDA approval to roll out the program to doctors across the country.