Each year the Drucker Institute award an organization that has exhibited the kind of innovative thoughts and behaviours that Peter Drucker himself would have been proud of. The award has been running since 1991 and this year received 687 applicants for the award, which offered the winner a $100,000 prize.
This year, the winner was HopeLab, an organization that was created back in the 1980s by Pam Omidyar, wife of Pierre Omidyar of eBay fame. The organization initially aimed to create games that helped cancer patients adapt mentally to their condition. The original game offered players the opportunity to zap cancer within the virtual environment, with the hope that this would boost their emotional wellbeing.
It was this kind of work that alerted the Drucker awards panel to them.
“HopeLab combines promising technology, research into psychology and biology, and design principles based on direct engagement with its target audience—itself a very Drucker-like practice,” said Drucker Institute executive director Rick Wartzman.
From those early days, the organization has developed a range of games that aim to improve the lives of players. One that the judges particularly enjoyed was Re-Mission, which is aimed at young cancer sufferers. The game hopes to help them address the problem of poor treatment adherence. Players are placed inside the body and challenged to battle cancer with the various methods available in real life, such as chemotherapy and the body’s natural defenses.
The game has been distributed over 200,000 times throughout 81 countries since its launch. Research has been published highlighting the valuable role the game plays in improving the emotional and mental well-being of young cancer sufferers. Indeed, the research found that players of the game took their chemotherapy and antibiotics more consistently, showed faster acquisition of cancer-related knowledge and increased their self-efficacy.
The organization have since built on this with the launch of a second version of Re-Mission, which is available both online and via mobile devices. They have also launched a game called Zamzee, which aims to boost physical activity amongst young children.
I’ve written a number of times about the use of games for social good, and in particular for various citizen science projects. It’s great to see work such as that delivered by HopeLab recognized by this award. Long may it continue.