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Game designed to help burns victims escape their pain.

The game ‘SnowWorld’ is set in an icy 3D canyon and was developed by Professor Hunter Hoffman and Professor David Patterson at the University of Washington Harberview Burn Centre in Seattle. It evolved out of the scientific advances in the last decade in understanding pain.

The aim of the game is “to make a very attention grabbing experience for the patient and basically to give them a place to escape from their pain” says Hoffman. "Because pain has such a strong psychological component to it, psychological treatments can be used to counteract the pain”. “Because humans are so visually dominant wherever you're looking typically that's where your attention is focused”.” "(For patients) during wound care, when they're getting their bandages changed, they're looking at these different tools that the nurses are using to treat them, and just looking at those objects makes them anxious”. "They begin to associate objects in the room with high pain so you can imagine that day after day they start to develop psychological associations between the treatment room and pain, amplifying how much pain they experience."

Being immersed in SnowWorld puts a "curtain between the patient and reality", Hoffman explains. Patients wear a helmet hooked up to the virtual world and wear noise cancelling headphones, cutting off all the sights and sounds associated with the painful treatment.

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, commented: “SnowWorld is a wonderful example of the different ways video games can be used. Video games can be employed for entertainment, educational, and medical purposes. Increasingly, video games are being created for non-entertainment uses as society harnesses the positive benefits of games technology.”

Original article appeared here:

SnowWorld will feature in Horizon: The Secret World of Pain on BBC Two 31 January 2100 GMT.


Notes to editors:

About TIGA:

TIGA is the trade association representing the UK’s games industry. The majority of our members are either independent games developers or in-house publisher owned developers. We also have games publishers, outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership. TIGA was awarded ‘Trade Association of the Year’ and the ‘Member Recruitment Award’ at the Trade Association Forum Best Practice Awards 2010. TIGA has also been named as a finalist in the 2010 Chartered Management Institute (CMI) National Management and Leadership Awards in the category of ‘The Outstanding Organisation of the Year Award (SME)’. TIGA is an ‘Investors in People’ accredited organisation.

TIGA's vision is to make the UK the best place in the world to do games business.  We focus on three sets of activities: political representation, generating media coverage and developing services that enhance the competitiveness of our members.  This means that TIGA members are effectively represented in the corridors of power, their voice is heard in the media and they receive benefits that make a material difference to their businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial opportunities.

For further information, please contact Eva Field, TIGA PR Manager on: 07814 039 983, or email


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