The project

When it comes to game design for reminiscence work, there are many issues to consider: First of all, reminiscence work is considered as stressful for persons suffering from dementia. Secondly, persons concerned don’t want to find themselves in exam situations, confronting them with their weaknesses. The game design should support reminiscence work in a way that rewards success but avoids confronting the player with failings.

So the game acts as supportive element to build up a network of memories and augment this network with data. These memories can be sorted, connected, commented and shared with other people, such as friends, family members, or other people engaged in dementia prevention. As a result, the game design acts as incentive to recreate one’s (and other people’s) biography in a playful and highly motivating way, without causing fear and uncertainties.

Lebensnetz’ design is informed by a holistic approach, which combines social, cognitive and physical activities with reminiscence work.

Concerning mental and motor abilities, the target group is highly diversified. One cannot expect that everybody is able to control a motion based game without any obstacles. For this reason it is crucial for the design to leave the player as much space as possible to control the application. We are cooperating with aid organisations, therapists, research and medical institutes to assure meeting the target group’s needs. The game’s design also builds on academic research. These firstly are insights gained from four focus groups which involved experts from academia, health and care institutions, members of the older adults target audience, families of older adults and care personnel. Secondly a comparative qualitative analysis of related games and an extensive literature review establish the project’s theoretical foundation.

We are using Microsoft Kinect in connection with Unity3D to guarantee a flawless production workflow that allows for both, 2D and 3D game production. We investigate the element of motion and how it can support the player’s reminiscence process.

The project was started in autumn 2012, a grant-funded consortium will work on a prototype till the end of 2013. A field test in a caring institution will take place in Q4 2014.