Brand Experience and Activation > Digital & Social




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To be successful the game needed to be addictive and entertaining, ensuring that the science and the gaming were seamlessly integrated. Navigation was the answer. Navigational skills are one of the first cognitive functions dementia sufferers lose, and a popular gaming genre.

The idea was to create the first mobile game that would challenge and record navigational skills of players, and in doing so create a human benchmark for spatial navigation, against which dementia could be measured in the future. However, a game is only as good as the story it tells.

We created a backstory about a father & son retracing the father’s adventures by navigating your boat through five different themed areas. This simple but powerful tale of a son trying to save his father’s memories is the metaphor for what people are doing by playing the game. The only game where anyone can help scientists fight dementia.


Deutsche Telekom pulled together researchers and gaming experts, creating a game big enough to make a dent in dementia. A true collaboration which saw a telecom brand learn about medical research and University College London neuroscientists and Alzheimer’s Research learn about gaming.

Our challenge was to balance engagement and scientific utility, to capture the same quality of navigational data achieved in a clinical trial, hidden within an addictive mobile game. In doing so we created the world’s largest open-source benchmark for human navigation.

For all the work that went into the game, it would have all been for nothing if we didn’t get it onto people’s phones.

Launched on April 18th in the UK, followed by a global launch in 16 languages, the game featured on Google Play. Over the next 2 years, a UCL team will be analysing the data, providing maximum use to the global scientific community.


In less than 5 days following global launch, primarily driven by PR, the game was downloaded over 500,000 times, and picked up by over 400 media outlets worldwide. We were Top 20 in App Store and Google Play across 40 markets, and #1 free game in the majority of them. We used media and an influencer partnership with PewDiePie, reaching 3.2 million views in 24 hours.

After playing a total of 58 months, players generated 725 years of similar, lab-based research – a rate of 150 times faster. The largest previous study into dementia reached only 599 participants. A seismic shift that entirely depended on the innovation and advancement of the smartphone technology that we have in our pockets.

Averaging 5 stars across app stores with 25,000 ratings, the response has been overwhelming. Thousands of people left reviews all sharing a common sentiment: they loved gaming with a new purpose.


This is a story of the power of participation to solve an inscrutable problem. Dementia affects millions of people, it is incurable and there is not even any reliable early diagnosis. We believe in “Life is for sharing.” and dementia destroys the ability to share our lives. With Sea Hero Quest we were able to rally hundreds of thousands of people to attack a problem that could only be addressed by a group of that size. We had to get all these people to download and play a game on the most personal media space of all, their mobile phones.


Traditional dementia research was limited by access to participants. At most a study would be able to attract a couple of hundred participants and as a result the comprehension of the brain was always incomplete.

Our approach was to revolutionize the way research data was collected by getting people to volunteer information and time. The insight that people on average spend 3 billion hours a week playing games, increasingly on mobile platforms, meant that a mobile game was the natural solution to our problem.

We had 2 key audiences. Emotional Philanthropists are in search of ways to get involved in the issues they care about, to feel like they’re making a difference. The game, for them, needed to show that the impact they’re having on dementia is tangible and easy to share. The Casual Gamers, are looking for entertainment, something they can play for 2 minutes while waiting for the train.


Deutsche Telekom’s fundamental belief is that “Life is for sharing.” To us, memories and the people we share them with are what really matter in life. This belief is at the heart of everything we do.

Dementia is the single biggest threat to this belief. It is the next global health crisis; currently affecting 47.5 million people worldwide and that number is set to almost triple by 2050. It destroys memories, and not one person has ever survived. However, despite the size of the problem, for every 6 research scientists looking into cancer there is only 1 researching dementia.

There is no understanding of where dementia comes from, how to stop it, or even how to detect its earliest signs. To close the knowledge gap we needed huge and varied amounts of data.

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