Jenny Darmody and Sam Glassenberg. Image: © Connor McKenna/

Can the video games industry help revolutionise medical training?

16 Jan 2024

Level Ex founder Sam Glassenberg believes the video games industry can be used as a model for how to approach generative AI in healthcare.

There is often a misconception that doctors and other healthcare professionals are resistant to technology, but dig a little deeper into this and you’ll often find its the tech that hinders their work with patients to which doctors may be resistant. Sam Glassenberg believes this anecdotally comes from a resistance to adopt subpar or antiquated systems without proper training.

“I think that doctors in general are technology forward.  They’re very smart. They’re always looking for new ways to learn,” he told

“We continually give them interfaces that look like software from the early 1990s. It’s terrible, and then we say, ‘Oh, you’re not adopting this because you’re backward’. No, it’s because they’re using apps on their phone, they’re playing video games, they know what the state-of-the-art is, and you’re giving them crap.”

Glassenberg is the CEO and co-founder of Level Ex, a company that makes video games to help train doctors. Glassenberg himself has several accolades to his name having worked at companies such as LucasArts and Microsoft, even accepting a technical Emmy on behalf of his team for pushing the cutting edge of video game graphics.

‘We can look at the video games industry as a model for how to approach generative AI in a fearless way’

However, Level Ex came about almost accidentally when Glassenberg’s father, an anaesthesiologist, asked his son to “put this gaming nonsense to good use” by making a mobile game that could help his colleagues learn how to do a fibreoptic intubation, an effective but tricky procedure for establishing airway access that even experienced anaesthesiologists could struggle with.

Glassenberg acquiesced, threw together a game over three weekends and didn’t think about it again until his father looked for stats on it two years later. It turned out more than 100,000 medical professionals had downloaded the game.

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“Unbeknownst to me, they’ve been doing efficacy studies on this little game I made for my dad at medical schools all over the world that shows it’s drastically improving physician performance. So clearly, there’s need for this,” he said.

Technology already plays a massive role in healthcare, from AI in diagnostics to advances in 3D printing. But there is also some understandable trepidation about bringing in too much emerging tech and the mistakes and biases it could bring.

But Glassenberg said the healthcare industry could learn a lot from the video games industry about how to embrace those new technologies, such as generative AI.

“We can look at the video games industry as a model for how to approach generative AI in a fearless way. In the video games industry, every five years, you have a new generation of game console that can deliver an order of magnitude more content at an order of magnitude more detail, but you have the same team of artists. So, how do you enable an artist to create all that [extra] content every five years? You need to totally reinvent the way you create things,” he said.

“So, we’ve come up with all sorts of methods over the last 30 years to do this. Generative AI is just an evolution, just another step in that process. That’s why we embrace it so wholeheartedly in games. And at Level Ex, we’re embracing it to find new ways to, again, help train doctors and accelerate the adoption curve in healthcare.”

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic