EndeavorRx is an FDA-approved game that requires a prescription to play

(Image credit: Akili)

EndeavorRx is a brightly-coloured hoverboarding game that looks like a million other games for kids. You speed down corridors, avoid obstacles, collect critters and pick your look from a rotating list of skins. You also need a prescription to play. 

For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration, has approved a game for the treatment of ADHD in children aged between 8 and 12, and while it's not available to anyone right now, when it launches on iOS the only way anyone will be playing it is if they visit their doctor and get a prescription. 

"EndeavorRx is indicated to improve attention function as measured by computer-based testing and is the first digital therapeutic intended to improve symptoms associated with ADHD," reads the press release from the FDA, "as well as the first game-based therapeutic granted marketing authorization by the FDA for any type of condition."

It's "designed for the targeted activation of specific neural systems in the brain," says developer Akili, using sensory and motor challenges. According to one of the five studies Akili used data from, one in three children had no measurable attention deficit after four weeks of playing. The study involved more than 600 children. 

As The Verge reports, however, that study—published in the Lancet Digital Health Journal—doesn't actually recommend the game as a treatment for ADHD, concluding that "the results of the current trial are not sufficient to suggest that AKL-T01 should be used as an alternative to established and recommended treatments for ADHD." 

Several of the study's authors are also employees of Akili, while others have received funding from it or own stock options in the company. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.