Case Study: What’s the Word? for Morquio A Support

What’s The Word: for Morquio A support is a social game created by Biomarin and Ayogo for young adults with Morquio A.

Ayogo was researching the benefits of social connection for people living with rare disease.  For people whose disease progression limits mobility, such as is the case with Morquio A, online communities can provide a wonderful source of social support and empathy.

People with Morquio A have access to online resources, such as, where educational resources are available. Participants can share their stories and biographies but the sharing of free text communication between patients is avoided.  Connecting up with others who have shared the same experiences is very difficult when there are only a few hundred people in the world who share your diagnosis.

So how do you create an interactive community using a more playful, sustainable social game?

This is the challenge addressed by the social game What’s the Word? for Morquio A Support. The game is available to people with Morquio A, and can be accessed at the same time that a new treatment, Vimizim, became available for the treatment of Morquio A.

Vimizim is a weekly, 4 hour IV treatment, which places a heavy time demand on patients.  What better thing to do to pass the time?

Designed using Ayogo’s unique approach to Playful Design in the healthcare space, What’s The Word: for Morquio A support has two social channels which connect back to the main word game.  One channel is a social channel where a conversation starter keeps the whole community (patients, families and friends) engaged on friendly topics.  The second channel is in the 1:1 chat with the person against whom you are playing the game.  Because people with Morquio A can choose to play against another random player with Morquio A, the game-match is an unintimidating way to make new friends.

Benefits Cited by Disabled Gamers

what's the word marquio AExcerpted from a very personal narrative on how video games can help people with disability and rare disease.

A 2008 study from PopCap Games shows that I am not alone in finding games useful in dealing with disability. According to the survey, more than 20.5% players of casual video games had a physical, mental or developmental disability. This compared to 15.1% of the American population overall who were disabled at that time. A whopping 94% of those surveyed said they believe playing casual games “provides physical or mental benefits”.The most common benefits cited by disabled gamers were:

  • stress relief,
  • mood lifting,
  • distraction from issues related to disability,
  • improved concentration and mental workouts.

Another interesting find was that disabled gamers spent more time playing casual games than the average person. They found that 60% of disabled gamers play casual games for five or more hours per week, compared to 52% of casual gamers overall.