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A long-awaited video game meant to be prescribed to kids with ADHD is finally being rolled out — though not in the way its maker, Akili Interactive Labs, had ever imagined.

On Wednesday, the Boston-based startup launched an enrollment website to make its game available for free for eligible children for up to three months during the pandemic period. The rollout comes in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s move last week to relax regulations on low-risk mental health devices. Akili’s game is still pending regulatory approval, and as such it won’t be prescribed by physicians or covered by insurers as part of the unusual launch.


The game, dubbed Endeavor, sends players through landscapes like a molten lava river and an icy winter wonderland, rewarding them with stars and points as they finish tasks. Akili sees the video game as a delivery system for targeted algorithms that can activate and strengthen certain neural networks in the brain. It’s much more ambitious than the many digital health apps and software programs that aim to help patients manage medical conditions with education, tips, and reminders — and it’s long been seen as a crucial test case for the potential of the emerging digital therapeutics sector.

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