Sunday, April 8, 2012

iPad/iPhone app: Success Story

Success Story App
Success Story from iTunes (free for a while)

What it is: A FUN (and kind of addicting) time management game. These types of games usually involve playing a role of a cook or waiter purveyor of some sort of goods or services, and your task is to complete your customers' requests (e.g., cook specific dishes to order, or arrange ingredients in a sequence) to make a specified profit and move up to next level. As requests become a little more intricate, and customers can get pissy if you don't deliver on time and walk away, you have to prioritize the steps to complete your tasks. That's the "time management" aspect of these games. I have long considered these types of games optimal for Tx for both adults and children, but the problem is that these games are often overly complex with too many steps to negotiate in too little time. My motto, which I keep repeating here, is that if it goes from fun to frustrating too fast, it's not useful as a Tx tool.

Screen image towards end of 1st level
"Success Story" is, finally, a time management game that takes it easy; while there is a timed aspect to this game, the complexity of the tasks is built up slowly, and I feel that a large number of levels (way more than needed for Tx) are usable. In this game you are making sandwiches to order; there is a grid of 11 plates where single ingredients are presented for a time, although not all the plates are full especially in the first levels so it's easier to choose (see screen image). If an ingredient is not used after a while the plate empties and is replace with another ingredient. Customers come up to the counter (it starts with one at a time, then two, and a maximum of 3 customers at higher levels) and order sandwiches (each customer needs 3 identical sandwiches). All levels start out with one ingredient sandwiches (e.g., hamburger, or lettuce or bacon). The "order" is shown as an image so you can see what is in the requested sandwich. You click on the ingredient (e.g., hamburger) once per sandwich (so x3 for an order) and then a few desserts pop up: each customer finishes a meal with desserts. The desserts you just click on, you needn't check what the customer asked for. Complexity is slightly increased with additional ingredients (two items, but in sequence: hamburger and lettuce, or lettuce and pickles; then three items, and more) and at higher levels there is less time as customers get impatient quicker, the ingredient plates time out faster, and of course there's more ingredients per sandwich. There's a few other details like powerups and between-level mini games, some of which are memory games. Let me tell you, it may sound complicated when you read about it, but it is really fun and addicting. And the initial levels are really easy to get through as you only need to serve a portion of your customers to move up a level.

How we can use it in Tx: Let a pt play this game, going through the first 3-5 levels where at most sandwiches include 3-ingredients. This game will work on an iPhone/iPod touch, but I'd recommend only using it on iPad for patients. The tutorial section is actually very useful, and is the virtual version of full modeling of the task. If a patient can get even one customer served (shouldn't be a problem in the first few levels no matter how long one takes) it's considered successful, and they can replay the same level instead of moving to the next one. You can quantify progress by how many ingredients were picked correctly, how few were picked incorrectly (incorrect ingredients require an extra step to remove from an order), or how many customers were served.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Direction following (this game involves 1-, 2-, 3-, and at later levels more, step commands). The game directions do get a little easier to follow as one gets used to the game, and the difficulty is increased very slowly so there's plenty of time to enjoy the game before it gets frustrating (if ever). Problem solving in the form of prioritizing (do you finish one customer's dessert order or take care of another customer's sandwich order first so they don't leave, do you grab the power-ups or finish an order, etc.), and as such there's sequencing of steps as well as sequencing of ingredients (if a customer wants lettuce topped by pickles, they will not take pickles with lettuce on top). Scanning goals can be addressed as well since there is a grid of 11 ingredients that need to be scanned to select the required ones, and during dessert time, the player has to distinguish all the dessert ingredients in the grid and grab them. Memory goals are also addressed with some of the mini-games between levels, where the ingredient grid is turned into a tiny memory game of matching two ingredients at a time. Attention and focus can also be indirectly addressed. Categorization skills are accommodated in the part of the game where desserts are sent to customers, since this part of the step involves scanning the grid of ingredients for any dessert items (rather than looking at the specific order).

Specific examples:

1. For scanning or visual neglect write a goal to use a certain % of the ingredients on the neglected side during a level. So for example, if one is making a bacon and tomato sandwich, the 11-ingredient grid will have plates of bacon in random locations, and a player without visual neglect would normally not favor either side of the grid; so ask your pt to specifically grab available ingredients from the side they tend to neglect, and then quantify what % of bacon plates were selected from that side.

2. For memory goals, at a level where more than one ingredient is needed per sandwich, quantify how much cuing was necessary for the 2nd and 3rd sandwich for each order. That is, when a customer orders a burger, cheese, tomato sandwich, you have to make 3 of these to complete the order. The first one requires looking at the order image for each ingredient, but the next two sandwiches should be built from memory or verbal repetition. As an aside, completing these tasks is a great way to contextually practice holding an increasingly larger list of (related) items in memory using visual and verbal cues.

3. Brain-training: this is also a great app in general for exercising one's memory, reaction time, attention and focus.

And hey, how appropriate is the name of this app for Tx purposes?!

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