A fun, futile thought exercise where a few infamous score systems are playfully applied to a medical game

If Surgery Was Scored Like A Video Game

If Surgery Was Scored Like A Video Game


March 10, 2020

Author: Victoria

I am currently designing the score system for my math games, and decided it would be helpful (and fun) to apply diverse types of scoring systems to other educational enterprise.

Grading Your Doctors

Quite a number of surgery simulations are being released, including hip and knee replacement games. The fact that these surgeries are common procedures makes them more disturbingly gory than mortal kombat games. Especially when players prob their patients soft tissues...

Most of them are sold to universities and medical institutions, so can be difficult to download, or find much information on their inbuilt score systems. However, VR knee replacement surgery simulation is one such medical experience that can be found on Youtube.

As the medical industry is in it’s interactive infancy, I thought more experienced game niches could provide wisdom and advice. Score systems are the determinants of which activities players find worthwhile. Pokemon's battle system changes the game so it's not about cute electric pets, and is instead about stat sheets that squeak. Social media and the like button put a score on our popularity, irrevocably changing human interaction. As such, the question of which type of score system would bring out the best in medical students, is a valid one.

Lets look at how three very different score systems might reward our future medical professionals.

Devil May Cry - Style Meter

Devil May Cry only cares about one thing – how stylish you are. The games scores are themed with fashionable names like:

  • Smokin' S**y Style
  • Sick Skills
  • Savage
  • Apocalyptic
  • Bad ass (my best score!)
  • Crazy
  • Dismal

The names are complementary, but what measurements actually translate to "smokin’ sexy style"?

DMC rewards you for using as many different tools as possible. It is assumed that, the more different weapons you use, the more stylish and professional you are. Sound logic, easily quantified.

How would this be applied to knee surgeon simulator? Well the better surgeon would use a variety of tools, preferably all the tools, in creative ways. So instead of one scalpel, we could have a variety of cutting implements. Why finish the job with one scalpel, when you could chain in a pair of scissors and a pizza blade too? Who knows what kind of circumstances surgeons may need to operate under. It could be vital that they perform knee replacements with unconventional means.

DMC’s score system would ignite their surgery style.

What activities does DMC frown apon? Getting hit by enemies, and non-continuous action. The former is irrelevant with an unconscious patient, but the later could be useful to cultivate. With shortages of both surgeons and budgets, managers can't afford doctors that dawdle. Moreover, pausing to think during surgery, implies lack of confidence and knowledge. DMC’s score system can cultivate a students timeliness by punishing inactivity down to the millisecond.

So, our future medical professionals would learn to be very quick with a wide variety of tools, easing future budget constraints.

Zachtronics - Infinifactory

Zachtronics games have various means of scoring the same trait – efficiency.

In infinifactory, this is embodied via the metrics of the footprint, the number of cubes used and the number of cycles taken for your machine to complete the task.

In a medical simulation, this would mean that the fewer the tools used, the better. The fewer the number of actions taken, the better. If a player can get two jobs done in one move, it is a good thing. If they can do it with cheaper tools, that’s a good thing. Infinifactory does not impose any judgements on how costs are cut, it only matters that they’re cut.

Behold, how a scoring system can influence player action.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

It’s quite common for tests to use time as a ranking mechanism, assuming the fastest thinker is also the best thinker. Such a scoring system would rank surgeons by completion time. Every second would count. At the very least, you could be assured shorter lobby waiting times.

CoD also judges players by the number and difficulty of achievements unlocked. There are 27 achievements, with 1050 points cumulatively for players to collect. The demands of the achievements are diverse, including:

  • Difficult tasks: ‘save Alpha 3-2 from being drowned’ for 25 points
  • No failure: ‘Do not injure any civilians in “Piccadilly”’ for 50 points
  • Unconventional tasks: ‘take down a helicopter with a molotov’

Were the concept of achievements applied to surgery, doctors would certainly have to flex their skills in bizarre and healthy ways to aquire distinction. Perhaps there would be an achievement for doing the surgery with one hand only, or for discovering a set of collectibles on the patients person before surgery was finished.

The sky is the limit.

Were such a score system applied to medical games, I’d expect tomorrows doctors to be disturbingly fast, and always up for obscure and unusual challenges.