Thesis : Play to treat

“Play to treat” is a thesis about the use of games in order to treat diseases. It is a personal project that I wrote with the help of Nicole De Grandmont, Ph.D in remedial education and writer of 4 books about education with games). To write it, I read many books about games and medicine and I also interviewed people both from gaming and general practice.


Games can be used for more than entertainment. That’s why I’m very interested in the use of gaming for health. During my scholarship, I decided to write a thesis to explain how to use game in therapeutical ways: I called it “play to treat”. The goal of this writing is not only to present why games can heal but also how to show how to create them in order to heal a specific disease.

During several months, I looked for the use of games in therapies, games designed around a specific disease, but I also focused on gaming in general to get a clear view of the potential of playing for the health. Finally, I wrote a game concept for the Nintendo DS for dyslexia.

The final result is a thesis of 36 pages, divided in 5 parts. It also included interviews and focus on games in medicine (the game Re-Mission, the Wii-Therapy…).

– “From therapy to game” is a brief introduction about the usage of game in the medical world;

– “The therapeutic game “explains how games can be use to heal diseases by defining its strengths (play’s motivation) and limits (games to treat, not to heal);

– “The therapeutic approach” defines where and when such games can be used, what is a disease and what it is required in order to create a medical game;

– “Creating game mechanics against a disease” shows how game designers can design specific game mechanics for their own game;

– “Concept about dyslexia” is an example of a therapeutic game for the Nintendo DS, wrote with a speech therapist;


By writing this thesis, I learnt to get a deeper view of what games are and what it represents for people by focusing on playing at the large sense rather that only focusing only on video games for enjoyment. It is really important to do so because it gives you a clear view of what a player is looking for when he or she plays. This project definitely gave me a new approach towards games. There will always be games like the ones children play outside, but they can be deeper and helpful than only entertaining.