Sea Hero Quest, the mobile game that contributes to dementia research every time it’s played, has become the biggest single dementia study in history.

Since launching in May, the game has been played by more than 2.4 million people and has now enabled scientists to set a global benchmark for spatial navigation – a key indicator in the diagnosis and development of dementia.

Sea Hero Quest is a naval navigation game, where players have to guide themselves through levels, finding their way to checkpoints as well as firing flares back in the direction from which they think they came. As the game is played, how players navigate is logged and the data sent to a database.

Additional data to help the study, including age, sex and country in which they live can also be added, with scientists then able to analyse the data.

Sea Hero Quest
(Sea Hero Quest)

 

The game was created by Deutsche Telekom along with game developer Glitchers and with help from scientists from University College London and the University of East Anglia, and leading dementia charity Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The findings from the data so far have led scientists to conclude that our spatial navigation abilities begin to decline at the age of just 19 and continue on this downward trajectory throughout our lives.

Sea Hero Quest
(Sea Hero Quest)

 

The data gathered through the game, which is the equivalent of more than 9,400 years of lab-based research in the same field, also found that those from Nordic countries – Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark – appear to have better spatial navigation skills when compared to the rest of the world.

Players from more than 190 different countries have so far contributed to the study.

It’s thought that the benchmark established by the game could in the future be used as part of a clinical testing process to help better identify and ultimately fight the disease.

Read more: NHS turning to tech to help dementia sufferers live longer