Playing the young magic-user, named Oz, you dodge heat-seeking missiles, bombard a giant robotic dinosaur with spells, and freeze foes in gleaming blocks of ice. To win you’ll need quick wits, lightning reflexes and, perhaps most importantly, a solid understanding of diabetes management.
What? An understanding of how to keep blood sugars stable?
You see, in the upcoming video-game, The Magi and the Sleeping Star, your character isn’t just the descendant of a long line of magical heroes, he also has Type-1 Diabetes.
Adam Grantham, President of Game Equals Life and Magi’s creative producer, is a videogame veteran who’s also lived with diabetes for over 15 years. With Magi, he hopes not just to create a health education game, but to create one that stacks up favorably with the latest action hits. “The illness isn’t the focus,” says Grantham. “The game is about a hero who must battle armies of robots and giant monsters in order to save his world. But since this hero happens to have Type-1 diabetes, players must learn to manage the disease in order to be successful.”
For example, keeping a stable blood sugar level is directly tied to the hero’s combat performance. Eating food restores his health, but if the carbs pile up, his selection of spells will become limited and his movements will become sluggish. Administer just the right amount of insulin, and perform regular blood sugar tests, though, and his magic will gain extra power.
“Diabetes management really is a system, and even though the rules are soft, and not always 100% predictable, it is possible to use the rules to manage the disease,” Grantham explains. “Games teach players things all the time in regards to managing systems and dealing within rules. You can ask anyone who frequently plays Role-Playing Games and Real-time Strategy Games and others. They remember from the game, what order to take actions in, what attacks to use on what enemies, what techniques to use in what kind of environments, etc. So Magi just takes this norm from video games and applies it to diabetes management.”
Game Equals Life, an independent design studio funded by private partnerships and investment, has yet to announce a release date for Magi. However, the project has already caused some buzz on various blogs and message boards. In an industry where young gamers are savvy and selective, Magi’s pedigree and polish are just as important as the health content itself in conveying a message of responsible diabetes care.