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Will Doctors Soon Be Prescribing Video Games For Mental Health?

Developers of a new video game for your brain say theirs is more than just another get-smarter-quick scheme.

Akili, a Northern California startup, insists on taking the game through a full battery of clinical trials so it can get approval from the Food and Drug Administration — a process that will take lots of money and several years.

So why would a game designer go to all that trouble when there’s already a robust market of consumers ready to buy games that claim to make you smarter and improve your memory?

Think about all the ads you’ve heard for brain games. Maybe you’ve even passed a store selling them. There’s one at the mall in downtown San Francisco — just past the cream puff stand and across from Jamba Juice — staffed on my visit by a guy named Dominic Firpo.

« I’m a brain coach here at Marbles: The Brain Store, » he says.

Brain coach?

« Sounds better than salesperson, » Firpo explains. « We have to learn all 200 games in here and become great salespeople so we can help enrich peoples’ minds. »

He heads to the « Word and Memory » section of the store and points to one product that says it will improve your focus and reduce stress in just three minutes a day.

« We sold out of it within the first month of when we got it, » Firpo says.