The founders of the new “gaming” company were inspired by research on the positive impact of tools with game elements on people with depression and ADHD.
DeepWell Digital Therapeutics will develop video games that have a positive effect on people with various mental disorders. In addition, the team will help with the search for therapeutic properties in projects released earlier.
DeepWell DTx is a joint project of Devolver Digital founder Mike Wilson and medical equipment specialist Ryan Douglas. They were inspired to create the company by scientific works on the impact of games on the condition of people. According to research results, therapeutic tools with video game elements have a beneficial effect on patients with depression and ADHD.
As Douglas noted, in the development of such tools, the main emphasis was placed on their therapeutic effect, while the fascinating gameplay elements faded into the background. However, the DeepWell DTx team primarily strives to create exciting games that can have therapeutic qualities.
Experts from DeepWell DTx intend not only to develop their own products, but also to help colleagues from other studios in finding games with potential benefits for people with mental disorders. They will have to analyze already released projects, as well as games under development. They will try to incorporate elements of cognitive therapy into those parts of the gameplay in which players need to make a choice. The team suggested adding interaction with the players, during which the game will ask them to perform a breathing exercise or think about something soothing.
Identifying such elements in games will help developers get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At DeepWell, the importance of checking the developed projects by the regulator is explained by the desire to convey to people reliable information about the benefits of games and to attract those for whom video games could be an effective addition to basic therapy.
The process makes it difficult to determine methods for evaluating the therapeutic properties of digital products.
The use of video games in the treatment of depression and ADHD is only gaining popularity, and additional research is needed to more accurately determine their impact on the condition of patients.
Unlike medicines, digital products will not be subjected to such thorough testing. As Douglas noted, in the case of the FDA, we can talk about the passage of a process of “substantial equivalence”. The regulator will identify video games as effective due to their similarity to existing therapeutic tools, without the need to prove the positive impact of the projects themselves.
Nevertheless, video games are not able to replace traditional therapy, Douglas stressed. Gaming can be used as a supplement to the main treatment. According to the co-founder of DeepWell DTx, one game is already in development and may be presented in early 2023. Details of the project have not yet been disclosed.