Development of a Serious Gaming App for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

In this paper we describe the development of SCI Hard, a serious game designed to promote self-management skills among adolescents and young adults with spinal cord injury and dysfunction (SCI/D). With assistance and input from individuals with SCI/D and healthcare providers, SCI Hard was designed as a mobile gaming app that allowed for game play by individuals with high levels of tetraplegia. It takes approximately five hours to complete and consists of four levels that require the player's character to figure out how to get around with SCI, manage their health, and engage in activities so they can save the world. Evaluation of the game by fourteen individuals with SCI/D found that while reactions varied regarding the music and plot, in general, participants had a positive experience with the game and felt that playing it could benefit those with new SCI as well as a general audience. In conclusion, electronic games -- if thoughtfully designed with input from the target population -- appear to offer a potential avenue for engaging adolescents and young adults with SCI/D in the self-management process. The medium is familiar and allows a safe place to learn rules, test boundaries, and experiment with the connection between outcomes and actions/inactions.