Theraplay was a project in which we were to design and develop a therapeutic game for children suffering from multiple sclerosis and/or brain palsy and had severe psycho-motor disabilities. The exercises that they have to perform often tend to be very boring and demotivating, so what better way to solve that than to turn them into games?
The result of the project was Kung-Fu Kitchen. Originally, the game used a variety of sensors (such as the Nintendo Wii-mote and a professional-grade 3D camera), but the latest edition has moved on to only using the Microsoft Kinect. In the game, the children take on the role of Kung-Fu apprentices, who have to appease their sensei by performing certain exercises. There is a game in which they fly a dragon, a game that has them cook a pot of soup, a game that has them collect dragon eggs, and finally a game that has them catch plates that are thrown to them by the sensei.
The game offers many customization options, from making the graphics less demanding for cheap computer systems to a back-end that allows the therapists to follow up on the progress that the children are making. The short video below shows some of the children playing the game with their therapists. I contributed to Theraplay’s funding acquisition, assembly of the user commission, initial project planning, and pre-production design.