Brainy Bunch: Fighting Cancer with VR Gaming
Brain tumours. They suck. A lot. You can’t see them, or touch them. They’re tricky to control. So, M&C Saatchi teamed up with The Brain Tumour Charity and invented a game to battle the beast. How? With mind-control technology and a little 80s nostalgia…
Remember Pong, that 2D, ridiculously simple, highly addictive arcade game that saw you squander away a few thousand hours of childhood? Well, throw in a couple of dual-player virtual reality headsets, a giant out-of-home screen and a crowd of cheering spectators, and you’ve got MindPong!
Adopting the technology behind electroencephalography (no, we can’t pronounce it either), we used hands-free headsets that respond to the brain’s electrical activity, and developed a Pong-style game that allows players to control their ‘paddle’ by concentrating (to move it upwards) and relaxing their mind to bring the paddle back down. It’s all very clever. So clever, that MindPong won third place in Ocean Outdoor’s 2014 digital competition, allowing us to commandeer Eat Street’s mammoth live screen at Westfield London for one day only, to demo said paddle-wiggling, brain-training fun for passers-by, raising money and awareness of The Brain Tumour Charity’s work.
Very much a ‘seeing is believing’ type affair, good healthy British cynicism was quickly replaced by faces of wonder when visitors stepped up to the plate and tested MindPong for themselves. While reactions varied from ‘incredible’ to ‘Can I have another go?’ to ‘Is this magic?’ (no, 25-year old gentleman who stood transfixed for a good 10 minutes, it is not magic, but it is quite good), donations for The Brain Tumour Charity came pouring in. Good work team.
*With thanks to Westfield London and Ocean Outdoor, who provided all media space.