As reported in Cystic Fibrosis News; the 2020 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards are part of an initiative to encourage young entrepreneurship via support of student led startups. This year there was a win in the disease world when the top prize, receiving a whopping $39,000, went to the student-created company Konglomerate Games, for a video game made to assist and encourage children with cystic fibrosis to do their breathing exercises. The game, Archipelayo, was created by students attending Abertay University in Scotland, winning the top prize out of 80 submissions from the U.K.
Cystic fibrosis is rare disease that causes the build up of a thick mucus in the lungs. The genetic condition’s characteristic mucus interrupts the processes of the respiratory and digestive systems and traps bacteria, causing damage and infections. Symptoms include infections, difficulty breathing, wheezing, congestion, constipation, difficulty exercising, and difficulty absorbing nutrients. The rare condition is for life, and while there are no cures, there are symptomatic treatment options.
The Video Game
The idea is that this type of regular physiotherapy can be enormously impactful for patients’ health, avoiding risks and upping life expectancy. However, getting children to actually follow these routines can be difficult. This video game turns the tediousness into a challenge – making proper adherence to rules a goal. By making it fun, it makes treatment easier.
The award-winning video game, Archipelayo, is made up of a series of smaller video games which walk children and teens through breathing exercises. These type of exercises can be repetitive and tedious, but video games have a knack for making the repetitive fun. The student team from Konglomerate Games set out to make these exercises more palatable for the children and young adults to encourage routine. By providing a series of levels, the game allows for a diverse audience, making it suitable for 6 to 16 years old. The larger video game has many levels that allow the games to be suited to the needs of the child’s stage of treatment.
The game additionally has a utility for doctors: tracking the patient data, and analyzing the results. This gives the the medial teams a better understanding of the current capacity and progression of the child. It comes equipped with a sensor that tracks the breathes, making them controls in the game.
Archipelayo has won multiple awards since its inception, also receiving the prize for the International Serious Play gold award and the Unlocking Enterprise challenge which gave funds that helped kickstart the project. Now, they hope to expand it further into a dual entertainment and utility for families with CF.