Cherrypick’s game promotes all-physician narrative of hospital care
October 2017 – The premise of the My Hospital phone game is that after you graduate from medical school, your wealthy grandfather gives you a brand-new hospital to run and operate as a manager. The game introduction specifically states that “You will need doctors to cure patients,” which fails to convey that nurses are crucial to running a hospital and you actually need them, too. In fact, there aren’t any nurse characters present in the entire game, at least up to Level 7, where I stopped playing. And the woman in purple in the image above, who some people might think is a nurse? She is a receptionist.
In real life, nurses are not only important but crucial to a functioning hospital, just as physicians are. Nurses study science at college for years so they can help patients. Hospital nurses watch patients carefully for any change in their condition, using cutting-edge technology. Then they decide how to help patients get better, often saving their lives. Nurses also advocate for patients and teach patients how to manage their conditions. And many (although not enough) nurses play leadership roles in hospitals. However, none of this was remotely present in the game that I played.
In the game, you are supposed to earn coins or points or whatever to hire the physicians. The game description says you have to treat and cure “quirky and funny diseases” with specialty doctors. The areas the specialty doctors cover include: “head, tummy, appetite, skin, fever, nose, sleep, lung, and ADHD.” It seems the hospital is a non-emergency facility, yet for whatever reason it still has an operating ambulance. It’s your job to get the points to hire these doctors so they can cure patients. However, it turns out the physicians don’t actually cure patients, and it’s really “elixirs” and “panaceas” (which Google tells me means magical potions and cures for diseases). You have to create these in a laboratory using your game-money. It’s at this point that they wanted me to start paying for extra coins with real money, so I stopped playing.
This game obviously does not mean to be a real representation of how healthcare works. It was not intended to be educational, but to be an entertaining game that could make some money for its creators. And with over a million installations, it seems to at least be a mildly popular game. It probably didn’t mean to tell kids and anyone else who decided to play that hospitals could run without nurses, but regardless, that’s what it did by not incorporating them into the game. It perpetuates the myth that the work of nurses does not matter.
Oh, and can I just say the gameplay was boring? It was really boring.
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Review by Simone Summers
Senior Analyst of Kids’ Games and Programming, The Truth About Nursing