Four years ago I had a dream. I wanted to immerse my healthcare students in learning automatically, without them even thinking about it. As a nurse educator, I had seen my students struggling in theory classes, since they often describe themselves as practical learners. At the same time at home, I saw my children totally immersed in virtual worlds through their mobile devices and game consoles. I understood that learning needs to be changed.

Research shows that medical and nursing staff lack knowledge and skills in recognising changes in patient clinical condition At worst this can even lead to death. In hospitals, according to research more than 8o % of the patients who died unexpectedly could be identified already 25 hours before the event. Safe patient care needs constant practice. I understood that learning needs to be changed. Digitalisation in higher education was increasing, and especially in healthcare education the use of virtual simulations, and recently serious games, was growing. I saw a huge possibility for students to practice and learn to recognise signs of deterioration in an immersive and safe virtual environment where they can practice without a risk of harming real patients.

Designing games for healthcare education requires knowledge of healthcare, learning theories, game design, user interface development, game programming, and computer graphics and animation. This is why we at Practigame combine professional healthcare and education expertise with the talent of a game design studio. When I met our game designers Anna-Saida, Saku and Tuomas, my dream came true.

Learning through gaming changes the focus from traditional teacher-centered knowledge sharing to student-centered immersive learning experiences. In Practigame, learners simulate real-world situations and emulate the roles of healthcare professionals. Research shows that games used for educational purposes should share familiar characteristics of leisure games to ensure an engaging learning experience. That’s why we integrate game elements with learning objectives, and enable learning through doing.

When creating immersive learning experiences, it is important that the game replicates real-life situations. Immersion refers to the player’s experience of being drawn into the game so that they have the feeling or perception of being part of the game environment. Practigame focuses on genuine patient concerns and the willingness of the player to help the patient. We enable interaction between the player and the game environment. The better the game enables interaction, the more realistic and engaging the learning experience will be.

In the core of learning is feedback. In Practigame, learners and educators can analyse learning through an integrated feedback system. The purpose of feedback systems in games is to inform players about their performance and progress (8). Performance based feedback is necessary in order for the student to fully benefit from the gaming experience. Feedback during the virtual experience triggers learners to reflect on their own learning processes. This leads to better knowledge retention than traditional learning methods. Especially in healthcare education, games offer an ideal teaching method for practicing in a safe environment without harming real patients before students are entrusted with the care of real patients. In Practigame, all of the learning content can be updated and customised to match treatment protocols in any country.

At Practigame we empower learners. We give them confidence in their skills. Our vision is to create the most empowering and engaging learning experience by leading the world’s journey to gamified education. We think that learning not only could, but also should be fun.

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Jaana-Maija Koivisto, CEO & Co-founder, Practigame

Jaana-Maija is CEO and co-founder of Practigame and a registered nurse and nurse educator (MNSc). She is currently finishing her PhD in the University of Helsinki in Faculty of Behavioural Sciences. The purpose of her research is to generate design principles for simulation game, and to design and develop a simulation game for learning clinical