Working in the medical profession rarely sounds like much fun to me. I’ve heard many anecdotes from doctors and nurses over the years, and almost all of them sound stressful and more than a bit grim. Despite such common problems, video games have managed to make the concept of curing people (and sometimes, killing them) fun and satisfying.
Here’s a look at five great titles for scratching that healing itch.
Trauma Center series
The Trauma Center series of games is part visual novel, part surgery simulation. Think of the childhood game of Operation, and you’re not far off here.
You play the role of a surgeon who has to save people from dying of various fictional conditions. Oftentimes, bioterrorism plays a significant role in the series which spanned the DS and the Wii in the mid 2000s. Slicing and dicing is everything as you use either the DS’s stylus controls or the Wii’s Wiimote to use tools such as scalpels, forceps, and syringes to take you through each step of the operation.
A steady hand is vital if you want to succeed, but the intriguing storylines will keep you hooked.
Plague Inc: Evolved
Placing you on the wrong side of medicine, Plague Inc: Evolved has you determining how best to wipe out the world by creating a pathogen that can’t be stopped.
Using an epidemic model with some realistic set of variables, it’s attracted the attention of the CDC due to its accuracy. It works as a simulation for bad guys, basically, by having you unlocking bacterias and viruses in a bid to slowly but surely wipe everyone out. It’s been praised by the CDC for its ability to raise public awareness on disease transmission, but don’t expect this to be an overly light affair.
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a tough game that won’t appeal to everyone–much like its spiritual predecessor, the humble game of Operation.
The game has you participating in a series of operations as you attempt to complete standard procedures such as a heart transplant without anyone dying. It’s tough. You use a mixture of the mouse and keys to manipulate objects and your virtual hand. It requires a tremendous amount of dexterity and is quite obtuse. That means this is a bit of an acquired taste but for those players who found Operation to be stupidly easy, they’ll appreciate showing off here.
Big Pharma takes a cynical look at healthcare and medical research. It has you controlling a manager of a pharmaceutical company, working towards creating new prescription drugs.
The key here is to limit the side effects while boosting the positive benefits–and make plenty of money in the process. It’s a keenly focused strategy game, showing you just how important drug production lines are to developing a profit. Little time is spent on feeling good about helping others, which feels in direct juxtaposition to the general viewpoint of the caring profession. However, it’s a rewarding game that just might make you think a little harder about why some medication costs so much and just how the medical industry really works.
Released during Bullfrog’s era of being the king of quirky strategy games, Theme Hospital is arguably the studio’s greatest title.
Players must design and operate a hospital, with an aim to curing more patients than rival hospitals, as well as turning a healthy profit. It could have been done cynically, but instead Theme Hospital has some ridiculously silly diseases that need curing. Bloaty Head and Elvis Syndrome being just two of the bizarre ailments that the locals suffer from. Even when you accidentally kill a patient, it’s darkly humorous as Death arrives to take the poor soul away. Numerous other pop culture references are made, ensuring that this is highly enjoyable, as well as genuinely funny.