Sanitarium is a game that might help treat tuberculosis in the real world

Made by third year Scottish students

Here’s another thing to add to the already long list of good deeds gamer have done: they’re now helping treat tuberculosis.

Sanitarium is a game developed by Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland. The game challenges players to treat as many TB-infected people as they can on the scant resources they have available. It looks kind of like a backwards Pandemic.

But the thing is, the game records and analyses data using a mathematical model developed by St. Andrews University (also in Scotland). The data the game collects functions as almost a virtual clinical trial. The mathematical model simulates drug trials, while the game itself reflects the human behaviour involved in treating TB in different countries.

For example, how players deal with countries where treatments for TB are rarer will help inform how treatments in the real world are carried out. Talking about the importance of the game, St Andrews University’s Professor Stephen Gillespie said:

We can’t afford to do that many clinical trials, so if we can have a virtual clinical trial that tests the hypothesis whether that will work, we can select a smaller number of studies that are really worth doing and worth investing in.

In 2013, roughly 1.4 million people worldwide died of tuberculosis, and there were an estimated nine million new cases of the disease reported. Hopefully projects like Sanitarium will help slow the spread of the disease.

The digital game that could cure TB [BBC News]

Joe Parlock