In a groundbreaking move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of a prescription video game for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Developed by Akili Interactive, the game is called EndeavorRx, and the title has been designed for players ages 8-12 years old. EndeavorRX will be available as a downloadable app, but will only be available via prescription. This marks the first time that a video game has ever received approval from the FDA, and could provide parents with an appealing alternative to prescription drugs. The game received approval following five clinical studies that included over 600 children, in total. In a press release, Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, discussed the decision.
"The EndeavorRx device offers a non-drug option for improving symptoms associated with ADHD in children and is an important example of the growing field of digital therapy and digital therapeutics," said Shuren.
EndeavorRX is an action game, in which players navigate through various themed worlds. During gameplay, children must avoid obstacles such as fire, spiked objects, and more while collecting items. Players can even unlock costume skins through gameplay! Akili's CEO Eddie Martucci praised the decision.
"With EndeavorRx, we're using technology to help treat a condition in an entirely new way as we directly target neurological function through medicine that feels like entertainment. Families are looking for new ways to help their children with ADHD. With today's decision by FDA, we're excited to offer families a first-of-its-kind non-drug treatment option and take an important first step toward our goal to help all people living with cognitive issues," said Martucci.
It will be interesting to see if the success of EndeavorRX will lead to more games becoming accepted as forms of treatment for mental health disorders. While there are prescription drug options for ADHD, many parents are hesitant to pursue them. For those parents, EndeavorRX could offer a far more appealing choice.
Since the dawn of the industry, video games have struggled with the perception that they are actually harmful to children. Over the last decade, video games have greatly grown in acceptance, but that negative perception still persists. EndeavorRX could represent another step in the growth of the industry and the way that it continues to evolve.
What do you think of the use of video games for treating ADHD? Should video games be used to treat mental health disorders? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk about all things gaming!