abcdesim: Saving lives with a game

abcdesim is the first game in the Netherlands to be recognized as a complete training tool. This crossover between medical science and the gaming industry is proving highly effective for learning to save lives.

At a&e departments, you’ll often find a poster on the wall with the standard steps for stabilizing admitted patients as quickly as possible. “When every minute counts, the five steps – a, b, c, d, e – need to be automatic,” says Evert Hoogendoorn at IJsfontein. To accomplish that, he worked with medical special - ists from Erasmus mc and medical information experts from the University of Twente to design a serious game for training doctors, nurses and students. It is a real, almost ‘addictive’ game that effectively solves the problem of a shortage of time and trainers; it can be played without any additional guidance. 

Players have 15 minutes to stabilize the virtual patients. Just like in real life, what is wrong with the patient is unknown. The player reaches the required level only when the abcde method is quickly and correctly applied. “Of course it is just algorithms and pixels, but the patient on the screen behaves exactly like a flesh and blood person,” says Hoogendoorn. “We have built in cardiovascular, respiratory and medication models. The model of the circulatory system simulates the pumping of the heart and calculates the blood pressure. The influence of the virtually administered medicine is also precisely calculated.”

Now that they are working on the fifth edition of the game, it is doubtful that there is another game designer with as much medical knowledge as Hoogendoorn. “Practically speaking, I am not of much use if something happens to you, but I now know a lot about how the body reacts to various operations.” Vice versa, the supervising internist from Erasmus mc now knows a lot more about the endless possibilities of gaming. “This exchange has led to enormous gains in quality.”