Immersive Fortnite simulator puts gamers in the shoes of Alzheimer’s sufferers

Immersive Fortnite simulator puts gamers in the shoes of Alzheimer’s sufferers

Momentum Worldwide’s Fortnite mod highlights the plight of Alzheimer’s sufferers, and the metaverse’s newfound relevance.

It’s been two years since Mark Zuckerberg bravely re-christened his company Meta, but we’re yet to hear anyone outside of a boardroom refer to it as such. The metaverse medium’s branding crisis however, could be coming to an end as a spate of project’s successfully demonstrate its utility.

Presently, over 55 million individuals globally grapple with dementia, with nearly 10 million new cases emerging annually. Alzheimer’s disease, as per the World Health Organization (WHO), accounts for 60–70% of dementia cases, making it the most prevalent form.

Even more worryingly, up to 9% of dementia cases occur in individuals under 65. It’s an important condition to draw attention to, then, and in a collaborative effort, Momentum Worldwide, the experiential agency, and CEAFA (Spanish Association Against Alzheimer’s and other Dementias) have launched a project to shed light on early-onset Alzheimer’s among Gen Z in Spain, employing an innovative approach using Fortnite.

This ground-breaking campaign introduces an immersive simulator within the Fortnite video game, offering players a first-hand encounter with Alzheimer’s symptoms in a virtual setting, complete with disorientation, memory lapses, and distortions in time and space.

Rodri González, Spain executive creative director at Momentum Worldwide, emphasised the importance of raising awareness among Gen Z: "When Gen Z hears the word Alzheimer, it sounds like something they don’t have to be worried about yet. In contrast, the disease affects young people too. If we get them to know the symptoms and experience them, we will be a step closer to obtaining an early diagnosis, which is crucial for effective treatment."

To gauge authentic reactions, influential Spanish gamers were invited to test the simulator, unaware of the experience they were about to encounter. Influential streamers were leveraged to engage with an audience traditionally disconnected from Alzheimer’s awareness efforts to shed its perception as a disease that only affects older people.

During gameplay, Fortnite characters confront obstacles mirroring real-life Alzheimer's challenges. Gamers witness scenarios such as sudden disorientation, blurred self-recognition in mirrors, random object naming changes, and rapid transitions between daylight and nightlife, reflecting time dissociation.

Our take

Over the years we’ve seen a spate of technology evangelists wind up with digital yolk on their avatars for championing faddish futuristic failures. Google Glass, Microsoft Zune and the Segway spring to mind, but is it premature to include ‘the metaverse’ among this laughable laundry list?

The concept of a virtual shared space where users interact with a computer-generated environment and other users, experienced a surge in popularity during the last cryptocurrency ‘bull run’ around the early 2020s, with the concept gaining extra momentum as techy-types pitched it as a social solution to coax covid lockdowners out of their stay home boredom.

Technical challenges soon took the virtual wind out of the idea’s sails. However, it became apparent that building a fully immersive and seamless metaverse experience poses significant technical challenges and involves interoperability between different virtual worlds and platforms. There were also potential privacy concerns, and frankly, people didn’t fancy bumping into their old school bully in polygon form.

The real challenge, however, has been making the metaverse relevant for everyday people. Momentum’s campaign is genuinely creative and poignant, achieving what all good advertising does: make you rethink a product, service, or – in this case – a condition.

The metaverse is perhaps the best medium to achieve this sort of empathetic connection, and, as technologies like Apple’s Vision Pro emerge, it’s likely just the beginning of something huge. 

Now where have we heard that before?

If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our weekly email alert and receive a regular curation of the best creative campaigns by creatives themselves.

Published on: