Exploring unlikely errors using video games: An example in number entry research

Oladimeji, Patrick; Thimbleby, Harold; Curzon, Paul; Iacovides, Ioanna and Cox, Anna (2012). Exploring unlikely errors using video games: An example in number entry research. In: Fun and Games 2012, 4-6 Sep 2012, Toulouse, France.


A common and important feature of many safety critical interactive devices is number entry. In hospitals, number entry takes the form of setting drug parameters such as doses, volumes, etc. There are several ways a number entry interface can be designed - with different consequences for error and speed. Nurses and healthcare practitioners usually have to interact with different interfaces often under pressure and stress of taking care of patients with different health conditions. Error rates in practice are low, undetected error rates are even lower and obtaining the context in which the errors occur is often incredibly difficult due to poor logging systems in many medical devices and high cost of planning and conducting empirical studies. Laboratory based studies also suffer similar limitations in that, without interventions, error rates are also too low to study. This paper explores the benefits of using a gaming context to study safety critical systems. We argue that a game paradigm provides a way that overcomes many of the problems of studying low error rates in safety critical systems and specifically for number entry in medical contexts.

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