Gaming at the dentist's - serious game design for pain and discomfort distraction

Rafael Bidarra, Dien Gambon, Rob Kooij, Dylan Nagel, Maaike Schutjes, Ioanna Tziouvara
Proceedings of Games for Health Europe Conference - oct 2013
Download the publication : gamingdentist.pdf [515Ko]  
Virtual reality (VR) techniques have proved effective in distracting patients from perceived pain in a variety of studies. These results, partly due to the visual impact and immersion achieved, encourage investigating the purposeful design of games for deployment in a variety of dentist treatments. In fact, a large group of patients, particularly youngsters, experience a strong resistance or even aversion to visiting a dentist's practice, often due to previous distressing and painful experiences. We argue that, to solve such situations, distracting a patient with just an attractive virtual environment is less efficient than with an interactive game expressly designed for this context and purpose. This paper presents the first results of a pilot project in this direction. We discuss the various requirements gathered throughout the project, and describe several technological challenges, involving e.g. user experience, interaction, content, graphics, which we faced throughout the game design and development phases. Although the project is still ongoing, the preliminary results of the prototype game evaluation in a controlled environment were very encouraging.

Images and movies


BibTex references

@InProceedings { BGKNST13,
  author       = "Bidarra, Rafael and Gambon, Dien and Kooij, Rob and Nagel, Dylan and Schutjes, Maaike and Tziouvara, Ioanna",
  title        = "Gaming at the dentist's - serious game design for pain and discomfort distraction",
  booktitle    = "Proceedings of Games for Health Europe Conference",
  series       = "Lecture Notes on Computer Science",
  month        = "oct",
  year         = "2013",
  publisher    = "Springer Verlag",
  address      = "Amsterdam, The Netherlands",
  url          = ""

Other publications in the database

» Rafael Bidarra
» Rob Kooij