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New "Re-Mission 2" Games Help Fight Cancer

Casual Games Take on Serious Disease


Photo by Cancer Type

Re-Mission 2, a collection of free online games launched by HopeLab, harnesses the power and appeal of casual games to help young people with cancer fight their disease. Combining research on the neuroscience of interactive video game play with the fun and accessibility of casual games, Re-Mission 2 is the follow-up to HopeLab’s breakthrough Re-Mission video game, released in 2006.

The new games apply insights from a brain-imaging study published in 2012 by HopeLab and Stanford University researchers showing that Re-Mission, a video game about killing cancer in the body, strongly activates brain circuits involved in positive motivation. This reward-related activation is associated with a shift in attitudes and emotions that helped boost players’ adherence to prescribed chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments in a previous study. As a result, each Re-Mission 2 game is designed to boost positive emotion, increase self-efficacy, and shift attitudes toward chemotherapy. The new games also incorporate direct input from more than 120 teens and young adults with cancer across the U.S.

“A lot of times we don't really want to take our meds, we wonder, ‘What is this doing?  Where is it going?  I'm tired of it.  It's just going to make me throw up,’” said Jose Guevera, an 18-year-old who was treated for cancer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and helped design the Re-Mission 2 games. “But when you see on the screen and visualize what's happening inside your body, and what the chemotherapy's doing – you’re not looking at a PowerPoint, you're playing a game and you're being chemo and you're killing your bad cells. I think Re-Mission 2 can really help a lot of us.”

“Research on the original Re-Mission showed that it impacted biology and behavior primarily by energizing positive motivation circuits in the human brain and giving players a sense of power and control over cancer,” said Steve Cole, PhD, Vice President of Research and Development at HopeLab and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “That gave us a whole new recipe for engineering the games in Re-Mission 2 – by harnessing the power of positive motivation circuits in the human brain.  And by involving more than 120 young cancer patients in shaping the game scenarios and play experience, we know these games will be super fun to play.”

Each Re-Mission 2 game puts players inside the body to defeat cancer, using weapons like chemotherapy, antibiotics and the body’s immune cells. The action parallels real-world medical treatments used to fight cancer. The games are designed specifically for teens and young adults who are at risk of adverse cancer outcomes due to poor treatment adherence. Research on Re-Mission 2 shows that the new games are as effective as the original Re-Mission game in increasing players’ self-efficacy, boosting positive emotions and shifting attitudes about chemotherapy.

Game Descriptions

Photo by Cancer Type The most powerful cancer fighting nano-soldier you can summon.

RE-MISSION 2: NANOBOT’S REVENGE

Your mission: blast all kinds of cancer as a powerful microscopic nanobot. Select from your arsenal of powerful chemo, radiation, and targeted cancer drug attacks to crush the malignant forces of the Nuclear Tyrant. Can you stop all the cancer cells before they escape into the blood stream?

Photo by Cancer Type Pro-B ALL mutant fires bio blasts.

RE-MISSION 2: LEUKEMIA

Lured by the sweet taste of healthy stem cells, the Leukemia monster has sent waves of cancer minions to destroy the body’s bone marrow. Save the precious stem cell colonies and cleanse the bone marrow of all leukemia cells with slashing, arcade-style gameplay.

RE-MISSION 2: NANO DROPBOT
Devious cancer cells are lurking, holding healthy cells captive and starving. Seek and destroy cancer in order to rescue healthy cells with your flying DropBot. In this platform puzzle game, players navigate through the body and destroy cancer wherever it hides.

Photo by Cancer Type Flying bacteria enemy.

RE-MISSION 2: STEM CELL DEFENDER
Protect white blood cells from a bacteria invasion – you’ve got what it takes to win with your flying nano-fling-bot. Grab and fling bacteria to their doom, unleash powerful antibiotic bombs, and feed a growing colony of healthy stem cells. Once the stem cells grow up, watch them buzz-saw the bacteria.

Photo by Cancer Type Chemo-agent, one of the protagonist that the player controls.

RE-MISSION 2: FEEDING FRENZY
Drive your colony of powerful chemo and hungry leukocytes to devour colonies of bacteria and cancer cells. Explore the human body while chomping cancer and bacteria in order to grow stronger, recruit armies of allies, and wipe out cancer and infection.

Photo by Cancer Type Leukemutant cancer cell - weak, but there are lots of them!

RE-MISSION 2: SPECIAL OPS
Unlock this action-packed bonus game pack by clearing 5 levels of each of the other Re-Mission 2 games. In this fast-paced arcade-style shooter, you destroy cancerous invaders with a vast array of weapons and power-ups. Special Ops takes the cancer-fighting experience to a new level with great visuals, multiple game styles, and new scenarios that keep the action fresh and exciting. Killing cancer has never been so satisfying! Downloadable for offline play on PCs and Macs.

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Re-Mission 2 games are free to play online at http://www.re-mission2.org. The web-browser-based casual game format offers a variety of fun gameplay styles and meets young cancer patients where they already spend time, online and on mobile devices. Three of the games also can be played on iPad, and players can unlock a special bonus pack of downloadable games for Mac or Windows PC.

HopeLab is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by Board Chair Pam Omidyar. HopeLab harnesses the power and appeal of technology to improve human health and well-being. HopeLab applies a research-based, customer-focused, collaborative approach to create products that positively impact health behavior. HopeLab is part of the Omidyar Group of philanthropies. For more information, please visit www.hopelab.org.