The game in the fight against dementia

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An article by Hans-Christian Schwingen, 2007 to 2020 Chief Brand Officer at Deutsche Telekom.

Deutsche Telekom's power of innovation and active sense of social responsibility are among its distinguishing characteristics. Both are evident in the "Sea Hero Quest" project, which is dedicated to international dementia research.

Hans-Christian Schwingen, 2007 to 2020 Chief Brand Officer at Deutsche Telekom.

Hans-Christian Schwingen, 2007 to 2020 Chief Brand Officer at Deutsche Telekom.

Great challenges can only be overcome with new ideas. One of the greatest medical challenges in our society today is combating dementia. It is estimated that some 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia – and by the year 2050, the disease is expected to affect 135 million. Anyone can be afflicted with dementia, regardless of age, heredity, lifestyle or social status.

Deutsche Telekom's brand promise – "Life is for sharing." – originates from the idea that shared experiences considerably enrich our lives. People are social beings with a fundamental need for communication. However, those with dementia are no longer able to share life's precious moments with other people. Since the concept of sharing is a fundamental component of our brand DNA, we at Deutsche Telekom take our social responsibility quite seriously, especially when it comes to dementia. Our products and services can do much more than supporting the exchange of information in social networks or the posting of someone's funny cat video. Our developments drive innovations that improve people's lives, their social environment and their sense of community. This is a central principle in our corporate philosophy and distinguishes Deutsche Telekom from its competitors. To achieve our aspirations, we have collaborated with highly specialized partners in developing the mobile game known as "Sea Hero Quest," which will help scientists in the fight against dementia.

One of the earliest symptoms of the disease is the gradual loss of spatial orientation. Even today researchers around the world still need to have much more comparative data to diagnose and treat dementia early. To date it has usually taken several years to collect and compile such data. At best, studies provide momentary insights into the behavior of a very small group of voluntary participants. While the game players embark on an exciting journey through various topical fields, "Sea Hero Quest" gathers a wide range of anonymous data about the players' orientation behavior in the game and thus provides scientists around the world with a comprehensive database that can be carefully analyzed. Players who wish to actively support dementia research can provide additional information such as age, gender and country of origin. It is hoped that this data will lead to the next breakthrough in dementia research. All data is collected anonymously and no information can be tracked back to specific individuals.

We are determined to make this groundbreaking digitization project a major success in the field of dementia research. To generate as much interest and user participation in "Sea Hero Quest" as possible, we are actively promoting the initiative in 13 European countries. According to researchers in the field of dementia, there has never before been a project of this magnitude anywhere. "Sea Hero Quest" is – in my personal opinion – not only a milestone in dementia research, but also in the medical field overall. It is also a milestone for all of the partners involved – including University College London, the University of East Anglia, the Alzheimer's Research Organization and Glitchers, the game developers – plus Deutsche Telekom. We are leveraging the opportunities of digitization and networking across borders to help find the solution that will enable us to cope with one of the most serious afflictions in our society. Great challenges can only be overcome with new ideas. This project represents one of those ideas. I invite you to download "Sea Hero Quest" from the App Store or Google Play – it is free – and play the game to help us win the fight against dementia.