Creating GridlockED: A Serious Game for Teaching About Multipatient Environments

Acad Med. 2019 Jan;94(1):66-70. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002340.


Problem: As patient volumes increase, it is becoming increasingly important to find novel ways to teach junior medical learners about the intricacies of managing multiple patients simultaneously and about working in a resource-limited environment.

Approach: Serious games (i.e., games not intended purely for fun) are a teaching modality that have been gaining momentum as teaching tools in medical education. From May 2016 to August 2017, the authors designed and tested a serious game, called GridlockED, to provide a focused educational experience for medical trainees to learn about multipatient care and patient flow. The game allows as many as six people to play it at once. Gameplay relies on the players working collaboratively (as simulated members of a medical team) to triage, treat, and disposition "patients" in a manner that simulates true emergency department operations. After researching serious games, the authors developed the game through an iterative design process. Next, the game underwent preliminary peer review by experienced gamers and practicing clinicians, whose feedback the authors used to adjust the game. Attending physicians, nurses, and residents have tested GridlockED for usability, fidelity, acceptability, and applicability.

Outcomes: On the basis of initial testing, clinicians suggest that this game will be useful and has fidelity for teaching patient-flow concepts.

Next steps: Further play testing will be needed to fully examine learning opportunities for various populations of trainees and for various media. GridlockED may also serve as a model for developing other games to teach about processes in other environments or specialties.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Male
  • Video Games*
  • Young Adult