For this month’s post I was really trying to look for simulations using some new technologies out there. I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, but I did stumble upon an interesting role-paying game franchise for the Wii called “Trauma Center.”
The first version for Wii is called “Trauma Center: Second Opinion” and it’s definitely more of a game than a true realistic simulation, but gives players a way to get introduced a little bit to the world of surgery in unique and fun way. It also looks to make great use of the Wii controller, which only having limited experience from the Wii by playing at friends’ houses, looks to be something of a rarity for Wii games (except for the ones exclusively designed by Nintendo like “Wii Sports Resort” which make excellent use of the technology); many of the Wii titles I’ve tried thus far would almost be easier in using a regular controller in my opinion.
This is a story-based game where you play a surgeon at a hospital and have to use all of your skills in order to save patients in certain time limits (before they die). You use the “nunchuk” part of the Wii controller to select from a variety of surgical tools, then use the motion controller part to actually do whatever procedure is needed like actually making incisions, applying medicine or devices to wounds, and sewing up an incision using stitches and tape. Even though it’s in an animated form, it gets the basics of what surgery is supposed to be about right, which is refreshing.
While the gameplay looks to be quite fun and at least mildly realistic, the game designers must have taken a page or two out of Lepper and Malone’s article for study because there’s a lot more to the game than just the basic gameplay of “fixing” patients. There is a huge endogenous fantasy component — you actually become the surgeon in a hospital setting — complete with interactions with patients, colleagues, administrators, etc. There is also an actual episodic storyline to the game as well which helps to motivate players to continue playing through to the game’s conclusion (judging from the cover, there must be some sort of master villain, don’t you think?). From a video review I watched the game is designed using anime-characters complete with over-the-top melodrama that anyone who has seen a typical anime (other than Miyazaki’s works) will be familiar with which also adds to the fun and immersion experience of the game.
All in all, it looks like a very fun game and must be a popular franchise — they’ve already made 3 iterations for the Wii alone. It might not be exactly the simulation I was looking for, but it seems like this same story-based model could easily be applied to a more realistic simulation at some point (maybe without the melodrama reminiscent of anime shows or ER and Grey’s Anatomy for that matter), incorporating a controller like the Wii’s and creating a more true-to-life experience for educational purposes. One can hope, anyway.
If you’d like to see the video review referenced in this post along with some additional video screen captures of the game, check out this link here from GameSpot.