You Have to Get Their Attention to Improve Their Attention – by Roger Stark

When I first came across the clinical therapies that would eventually lead to BrainWare Safari, it was all one-on-one.  I knew the only way to bring the program to large numbers of users was to leverage technology.  My previous involvement with Steven Spielberg’s early video games, EA Sports and Tiger Interactive made it clear to me that people are highly engaged in video games. If the techniques could be translated – and we didn’t know initially if they could – a video-game format could both get and develop kids’ attention, as well as other cognitive skills, on a much bigger scale.

We gathered a multi-disciplinary group of doctors and therapists and worked to get them to agree on what the exercises should be.  Then we brought in the video-game developers.  That was like bringing two different cultures together.  Today it might be easier.  Many younger clinicians have grown up with video games, so the collaboration might be smoother.  But then it was like they were from different planets.

The documents that drove the development were technology transfer statements.  But as the work progressed, it sometimes turned out that an exercise didn’t translate the way the clinicians thought it should. We worked and reworked to get it just right.

But what came from bringing these two worlds together is a program that combines the essentials of good clinical cognitive therapy and good video-game play.  It’s engaging; it’s fun.  It provides immediate feedback, reward and recognition.  Unlike traditional video-games, the story line is not the driving force in BrainWare Safari.  But it puts the player in control, with autonomy and the opportunity to master something.  I’ve realized that when the story line takes back seat to the inherent reward of developing mastery of skills you use throughout your life, the end isn’t the end.  Rather than having a sense of completion as you would when you complete the last level of a video game, with BrainWare Safari you experience in BrainWare Safari an opening up of a door to a world of possibilities.  What happens on the journey and what happens when you step through that door is for each individual to discover.

I hear stories every day about the possibilities people find on the other side of that door.  Please share yours.

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