Games for Change (G4C) is a conference that brings together gamers, game creators and other innovators that want to create social impact. Attendees get to see how games are utilized to help people improve their lives, communities and the world as a whole. G4C works with the private, nonprofit and public sector to create opportunities for people to design some sort of change whether it be in climate change or humanitarian issues.
PSFK had the opportunity to attend the conference and hear Dr. Adam Gazzaley, Founder & Executive Director of Neuroscape share his view on how new virtual reality technology can increase cognition, potentially improving the lives of all.
The goal of enhancing cognition is for both the healthy and those who might have impairments. It focuses not only on increasing knowledge, but improving how the mind functions and how we deal with our emotions to process different thoughts. The question is, can technology be used to improve cognition?
The answer is simply, yes.
Gazzaley covers how technology can be used to create powerful experiences in a safe environment that help change and/or shape the way that we think. Most importantly, virtual reality creates experiences that can assist with becoming more attentive while perhaps improving memory.
“Experience drives brain plasticity,” stated Gazzaley. As humans, it is hard for us to change. The big moments in life are what rewires how we think. Even as we age, the brain’s neural pathways continue to change and shift as we experience new things.
Gazzaley brought up the Jon Favreau’s VR experience Gnomes and Goblins, an original production from Wver, to give an example on the power of VR on our brains. This experience allows players to interact with mystical creatures in an enchanted world. The AI picks up on what the players are doing and uses that information to drive the responses of the creatures. The game tracks a players hands and head, allowing a personalized interaction with this fantasy world. Besides being able to be transported into different, beautiful place– It is a deep engaging experience that shows how AI and VR can be merged to create experiences that build empathy and compassion.
Favreau himself explains about the game, “Knowing that you are seeing something artificial and yet your brain is fooled into believing that it’s real. And that is unique to VR. Something that feels not so much like a game and not so much cinematic, but where you had the opportunity to explore the same feelings you get while lucid dreaming, and it really lent itself to this world and its characters.”
VR truly has the potential to improve cognition by creating unique experiences that help reiterate our human experience. In the right hands, VR can create different worlds that help, not hurt our brains.