Elude: Gaming as the “Opposite of Play”

Last week at the Games for Health 2011 conference, Dr. Doris Rusch (MIT-Singapore GAMBIT Game Lab) presented her groundbreaking game, Elude. Elude is not like most games – its intention is not to “play” but just the opposite. A beautifully designed metaphor, Elude is a tool for people supporting others with depression.

For people who have never experienced it before, depression is difficult to understand. It is not simply sadness, as many may think; it is more akin to an all-encompassing hopelessness, a failure to connect to or derive meaning from the outside world. By tapping into the experiential aspects of the video game medium, Elude’s metaphoricalmodel for depression serves to bring awareness to the realities of depression by creating empathy with those who live with depression every day. (GAMBIT Labs)

Sitting in the dark hall, the music, scenes, and up- and downward visual pull of the game quickly sent my emotions astir. This trailer gives you a taste.


Elude is designed for the clinical setting, as part of a psycho-education package for friends and family of those living with depression. As I sat imagining this play out between clinician, client and family, my mind wandered to health literacy and realized that this type of education doesn’t fit in our current definitions. According to Healthy People health literacy is “the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.” What about the ability to empathize with others’ and their health struggles?

This has caused me to contemplate our current definitions of health literacy. Would the inclusion of empathy be too complex? Does it even make sense in the context of health literacy? As a society we certainly push for awareness of health conditions, with new awareness days/weeks/months cropping up regularly. Do we strive to understand though?

What do you think? Are we too restrictive in our definition of health literacy? Please leave me your comments and links to conversations I may have missed!

– Bridgette

Bridgette Collado is a free-lance health communication consultant and recent addition to the Pulse + Signal team. You can find her on twitter as@bcollado.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Quick Google search and found this:


Note the “10 Tips for Health Marketing and Communication Professionals”:

#1 – Health literacy is a two way street. In all outreach efforts, aim for shared understanding between you (public health professional) and the public. Don’t assume everyone will understand your messages and/or how to manage their health. For example, if you want to include an illustration in your campaign materials, make sure to test it with your audience to ensure they understand its intended meaning.

Bridgette Collado

Thanks for your comment, Andrew! I’ve been through the handbook before but think I should revisit it…