10 June 2020

Unique videogame aims to improve speech therapy for elderly

Unique videogame aims to improve speech therapy for elderly

A photo of Jamie Bankhead and fellow Konglomerate Games Director Connie Reid

ABOVE: Jamie Bankhead and fellow Konglomerate Games Director Connie Reid

An award winning games developer from Abertay University has designed a unique videogame aimed at improving speech therapy for the elderly.

Computer Game Applications Development student Jamie Bankhead has already enjoyed success with the company Konglomerate Games, which has created a ground-breaking videogame to help children with Cystic Fibrosis do breathing exercises.

Archipelayo is currently being medically tested at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

His latest project, which is a solo endeavour, uses similar gamification techniques to turn speech therapy routines into fun playable experiences.

The game prototype is currently being showcased at the Abertay Digital Graduate Show 2020 Online.

"For people suffering from stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, or one of the many illnesses that cause problems with the voice, speech therapy can be essential for improving quality of life." - Jamie Bankhead

Jamie said: “For people suffering from stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, or one of the many illnesses that cause problems with the voice, speech therapy can be essential for improving quality of life.

“Unfortunately, often this can be tedious and time consuming and adherence can be poor. I wanted to create something enjoyable, something that changes feels like less of a chore.”

The game, which is untitled, consists of a three minigames, each replicating a common exercise for speech therapy.

The first game asks the player to keep a ball bouncing in the air by moving the face in a specific way, to encourage facial movement.

The second is focused on vocal strengthening, with players making specific sounds to make an on-screen character jump.

The final minigame is based around pitch strengthening, as players shoot a bow and arrow by alternating between low and high pitches.

Jamie added: “A lot of research went into making these games, and I feel like this is the most important part of the process because I don’t have any specialist knowledge in speech therapy.

“I needed to make sure that everything I was doing was accurate and common. If I made a game that was based on speech therapy routines that were dated or ineffective it was less likely to work or be picked up.

“I worked with speech therapists to deliver the game, using a survey to gather feedback. It asked how accurately the three games replicated speech therapy and on average they scored 8.6 our of 10 which I’m very pleased about.

“Unfortunately due to COVID-19, I’ve been unable to do any user testing.”

Jamie graduates this year, and will continue working with Konglomerate Games, a company he founded alongside several other Abertay students that specialises in using games for good.

The company recently won a grant from the UK Games Fund, and won the Unloc Enterprise Challenge sponsored by Verizon.

For more about Jamie’s project visit: https://www.abertay.ac.uk/visit/weave-by-abertay/abertay-digital-graduate-show/showcase/jamie-bankhead/

For more about Abertay’s Computer Games courses visit: https://www.abertay.ac.uk/schools/school-of-design-and-informatics/computer-games-courses/

For more about Konglomerate Games visit: https://twitter.com/KonglomerateG

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