Video games against malaria: learning through play

Do you love to tap bubbles and get information against malaria? It is now possible with MalariaSpot Bubbles, an online game that was launched on April 25, International Day against malaria. Players analyze real images of parasites in order to differentiate between the five species of parasites that cause malaria. And they do it while playing shooting mosquitoes and bubbles.

It is an application to learn playing while contributing to research into new methods of diagnosis of this disease. MalariaSpot Bubbles has been developed by researchers of the Group of Biomedical Imaging Technology of the School of Telecommunications at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (CEI-UPM).

Learn playing

Learn while you play

MalariaSpot Bubbles aims to create awareness against malaria using the gaming tool. On International Malaria Day, schools across Spain will participate in the “Olympic Games Malaria” to cooperate with the investigation. Thousands of school competes to become the best virtual hunters of malaria parasites through a video game that uses real images of digitized blood.

“They spend millions of hours a day around the world playing video games, mainly digital natives. MalariaSpot Bubbles is a very simple to understand the value of video games as an educational tool and as new solutions to problems of global health experiment,” says Daniel Cuadrado, game programmer and researcher at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.


Diagnosis among all for all

With MalariaSpot Bubbles, players not only learn but also participate in the development of collaborative methods of malaria diagnosis via the Internet. “Malaria is diagnosed by identifying parasites in a drop of blood observed through the microscope. Part of the protocol is to identify which of the five different species of parasites that cause malaria is in the blood, since it may depend on the treatment, “explains Maria Linares, researcher at the Hospital October 12.

With MalariaSpot Bubbles, it become possible to identify the species of malaria collaboratively and through internet investigation. The game complements its “big brother”, MalariaSpotgame that takes another part of the diagnostic protocol and which has recently been recognized as social innovation of the year by the MIT Technology Review and noted in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet .

MalariaSpot Bubbles has been developed by a team led by Dr. Miguel Luengo-Oroz, a research group Biomedical Imaging Technology of the School of Telecommunications at the Polytechnic University of Madrid — CEI Campus Moncloa and Ashoka social entrepreneur.

The project has the support of the Institute of Health Carlos III, the Institute for Global Health of Barcelona (ISGlobal), the Center for Health Research of Manhiça, the Center for Innovation in Technology for Human Development UPM Center Biomedical research Network (CIBER-BBN), Amazon web Services and the Renta Corporación Foundation.