Improving lives
through VR therapy

What is gameChange?

gameChange is a landmark psychological therapy for people with psychosis.

It targets the intense anxiety that keeps many people with psychosis from participating in everyday activities. These fears can develop into severe agoraphobia that means people avoid leaving the home, severely disrupting relationships with family and friends, their education, and working lives.

gameChange is a virtual reality therapy. Users simply put on the headset and start the program. No computers, cameras, or cables are needed.

gameChange is automated: a virtual therapist guides the patient though the program. So, the therapy can be supported by a range of staff, increasing patient access to effective psychological therapy.

Designed in collaboration with people with lived experience, over six sessions users practise being in simulations of everyday situations: a café, shop, pub, street, doctor’s surgery, and a bus. They can choose what they work on and when.

gameChange was tested in the largest ever randomised controlled trial of VR mental health and is now in use in selected NHS mental health services. You can read about the results in The Lancet Psychiatry.

gameChange was developed by a multi-partner team led by researchers at the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, and including staff from the University of Oxford spinout company Oxford VR, who are managing adoption of the treatment in services; the McPin Foundation, a charity dedicated to ensuring the participation in mental health research of people with relevant personal experience; the Royal College of Art; NIHR MindTech, specialists in the development and adoption of new digital technologies in mental health; and nine NHS Trusts across England.


Person 1: I was missing out on quite a lot. I couldn’t go out and see my friends and family. The biggest one for me was going up to visit my dad’s grave because in my mind I couldn’t physically get the bus to go up there. It was heartbreaking.

Intertitle: gameChange is a landmark virtual reality therapy for people with psychosis who are anxious about everyday social situations. Over six sessions, patients practise being in simulations of everyday situations, such as a café, shop, street, and bus.

gameChange is automated: a virtual coach guides the patient though the program. So, the therapy can be supported by a range of staff: peer support workers, assistant psychologists, or CBT therapists. That increases access, helping to get gameChange to all those who need it.

Most importantly, gameChange works. The results of a large clinical trial involving 346 patients with psychosis, published in the Lancet Psychiatry, show big improvements for people who had previously found it difficult even to leave their home. After gameChange they can get on with living the life they want to lead.

Person 1: gameChange therapy changed my life. I’ve been able to get the bus to me dad’s grave. I’m more confident in myself. I’m more confident around other people. I see gameChange helping everyone. I think everyone’s going to be using it.


Received £4 million in funding as winners of the NIHR (National Institute for Health and Care Research) Invention for Innovation (i4i) Mental Health Challenge Award.

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Department of Experimental Psychology
University of Oxford
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