RetroBrain R&D GmbH
Computer Games with Therapeutic Effect
Video games have been proven to be effective in the treatment of typical geriatric diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s. The Hamburg startup RetroBrain develops therapeutically effective video games to be used with the console MemoreBox. In virtual gesture-controlled exercises such as bowling, motorcycling, or letter delivery, elderly people who are in need of care can exercise their cognitive and motor skills – even if they are so severely restricted that such activities would be too strenuous or even dangerous in reality.
The Cognitive and Motor Experience
The biggest challenge was the range of MemoreBox’s various users, whose characteristics needed to be mapped in an appropriate test procedure. RetroBrain therefore acquired the expertise of UseTree and the TU Berlin in the context of the “Mittelstand 4.0 – Kompetenzzentrum Usability” project. The team recommended two stages for the project: UX research and the development of a standardised usability test scheme.
Many aspects were crucial: which design supports the intuitive understanding of the game? How are users motivated initially and in the long term? How correct must the control gestures be performed to result in therapeutic benefits? And how can everything be implemented scientifically into the test procedure?
Hone User Groups and Apply Appropriate Tools
In order for RetroBrain’s usability team to interview the user groups with the new test scheme, they first had to precisely defined. In addition to the wide range of patient characteristics and their illnesses, the nursing staff as a user group were also involved in the development.
These findings shaped the development of the test scheme. For example, conventional numeric scales have been translated into symbols to make communication with the specific user group more direct. Because many elderly people needed support remembering the individual games during the interviews, the team recommended using illustrated cards.
The result of the collaboration is a standardised test scheme consisting of the three modules: interview, observation plan and questionnaire. RetroBrain can also use them to further develop the MemoreBox. Diverse testers also benefit from this in several different contexts: they receive useful and comparable results from which concrete decisions can be derived.
In addition to listing difficulties when using the game, the test also clearly identifies whether and to what extent these problems are due to the user’s illness. In addition, RetroBrain was able to gain important insights into the creation of user profiles, which they can use in the future when designing new games.
“Thanks to the support from UseTree in collaboration with the ‘Mittelstand 4.0 – Kompetenzzentrum Usability’ project, we were able to make our user analysis and usability tests even more efficient.”
Head of Science, RetroBrain R&D GmbH