Skin Cancer Awareness Game
in collaboration with
Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. This is due to our population being predominantly fair-skinned, whilst also being geographically exposed to higher amounts of sunlight or solar ultraviolet radiation, the main risk factor for skin cancer. Skin cancers are more common in Australia than all other cancers combined and cost over $800 million to treat each year. The risk of developing melanoma increases with every sunburn and melanoma is the most lethal form of skin cancer. It is the third most common cancer in Australian men and women. In 2019, Cancer Australia estimated the number of new melanoma skin cancer cases at around 15,229 and an estimated 1,726 deaths (1190 males and 536 females).
A team of health researchers from QUT approached Real Serious Games with a video game concept, that would raise awareness of the dangers and risks of sun exposure. The game was to be targeted at young Australians, Despite the significant success seen with public health sun-safety campaigns introduced in the 1980’s, Australians aged between 18–25 years are still seven times more likely to report having a sunburn in the last 12 months than those over 65 years.
Furthermore, sun protection campaigns have historically been delivered with traditional communication channels such as newspapers and TV. With society increasingly favouring digital and online engaging content, our challenge is to develop new, innovative and creative ways to reach young Australians.
Real Serious Games began working with various health experts to understand how skin cancer develops inside a human body, and the different treatments that are available and how they work. The health experts were also consulted to design an accurate, virtual human lung. The final product is played as a virtual-reality based, seated, interactive video game, that is set inside a virtual human lung. The game-play involves a face-off with the cancer, as the cancer speaks to the player about how it entered the body: "through the mole on your skin". The game then progresses with the player using a gun representing different cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy,, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, to eliminate cancer cells from the body. There are two voices that can be heard in the experience. First is cancer, which talks about how it spreads into the lungs and its response to treatments. The other voice is the treatment technician, which advises how to combat cancer. Together, they both serve as the informational and awareness piece.
The game was showcased at QUT's stand during the Schoolies week to a positive response. Some of the feedback from kids was around how the game changed their perception about skin cancer.
Both QUT and Real Serious Games are now working on taking the game across Australia.