The purpose of this research was to develop a mobile phone-based educational game for children with type 1 diabetes. The game was expected to provide basic diabetes-related knowledge and help children improve their self-management skills.
Diabetes as one of the most common non-communicable diseases worldwide is rapidly increasing in children and adolescents in many countries. Often, it is difficult for young children to understand the changes type 1 diabetes brings to their lives. We wanted to help these children: give them knowledge they need for proper self-management of the disease which, in turn, can help them avoid short-term and long-term disease complications in future. In addition, we aimed to make it unobtrusively, and simultaneously ubiquitously.
DiaSpill, a mobile phone-based game was developed to address the mentioned above problems. The application was implemented on the Android platform with a help of the Unity 3D game engine on C# programming language. In game design, requirements and suggestions for the project gathered via reviews of the relevant literature, meetings with children of the target age group, doctors, and experts in diabetes were considered. On the final stage of the research, the testing procedure was conducted. It consisted of a questionnaire for children with type 1 diabetes about their game experience and diabetes-related knowledge and a questionnaire for their parents about children’s diabetes self-management before the test, testing itself, and an interview of children for getting the feedback after testing. To analyze the test results, a qualitative method was applied.
Despite too short testing period unable to properly demonstrate most features of the application, the game was recognized as attractive and moderately difficult with remarkable characters’ choice, backstory, colors and sounds, real-life bonuses, and the most impressive feature of user’s data influence on the gameplay: a game character, enemies and the rewards. Herewith, the user showed poor control over a game character’s blood glucose level which could be affected by the novelty of the game story, or probably, this might correspond to the user’s self-management skills level. Both options can be improved while the next game-playing attempts.
Diabetes-related knowledge was seamlessly embedded into the gameplay. In addition, the user’s real blood glucose measurements data and other user’s parameters such as age and height were used for a user-dependent gameplay and a multi-level rewards system and made a user even more motivated in game results. Real-life bonuses suggested in the game showed a potential to be highly demanded in future. Numerous levels with a gradually growing difficulty and improved game content with abilities of team-play and sharing with others the player’s game achievements are suggested to be adopted in future versions of the application.||en