Feb 19, 2010
In this video from the TED conference 2010, game designer Jane McGonigal explains the prosocial potential for video and online games.
An interesting example of the increasing role played by Positive Psychology in interactive design and development.
Dec 14, 2009
Dec 02, 2009
(From the press release)
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced more than $1.85 million in grants for research that will offer unprecedented insight into how digital games can improve players’ health behaviors and outcomes. With funding from RWJF’s Health Games Research national program, nine research teams across the country will conduct extensive studies to discover, for example, how the popular dance pad video game Dance Dance Revolution might help Parkinson’s patients reduce the risk of falling, how Wii Active might be most effectively implemented in high schools to help overweight students lose weight, how a mobile phone game with a breath interface might help smokers quit or reduce their tobacco use, or how facial recognition games might be designed to help people with autism learn to identify others’ emotions.
Health Games Research is supported by an $8.25 million grant from RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio, which funds innovative projects that may lead to breakthrough improvements in the future of health and health care. The national program, which conducts, supports, and disseminates research to improve the quality and impact of health games, is headquartered at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It is directed by Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., communication researcher in the university’s Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research and a leading expert in the research and design of interactive media for learning and health behavior change. The grants were awarded under the program’s second funding round to strengthen the evidence base in this emerging field.
“Digital games are interactive and experiential, and so they can engage people in powerful ways to enhance learning and health behavior change, especially when they are designed on the basis of well-researched strategies,” said Lieberman. “The studies funded by Health Games Research will provide cutting-edge, evidence-based strategies that designers will be able to use in the future to make their health games more effective.”
The nine research teams, chosen from among 185 proposals, each have been awarded between $100,000 and $300,000 to lead one- to two-year studies of digital games that engage players in physical activity and/or motivate them to improve how they take care of themselves through healthy changes in lifestyle; prevention behaviors; cognitive, social or physical skills; chronic disease self-management; and/or adherence to a medical treatment plan. Studies will focus on diverse population groups that vary by race and ethnicity, health status, income level, and game-play setting, with age groups ranging from elementary school children to 80-year-olds. The research teams will study participants’ responses to health games played on a variety of platforms, such as video game consoles, computers, mobile phones and robots.
“The pace of growth and innovation in digital games is incredible, and we see tremendous potential to design them to help people stay healthy or manage chronic conditions like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. However, we need to know more about what works and what does not — and why,” said Paul Tarini, team director for RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio. “Health Games Research is a major investment to build a research base for this dynamic young field. Further, the insights and ideas that flow from this work will help us continue to expand our imagination of what is possible in this arena.”
The nine grant recipients are listed here
Oct 27, 2009
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus, which goes on sale this Friday, got the permission to use the NHS’s Change4Life logo in its advertising on television and in shops. From next year, it is possible that the logo will be used on the product itself, an unprecedented partnership between a video game and the Government.
Change4Life is a public health programme in the UK which began in January 2009, organised by the Department of Health. The campaign aims to encourage people in Britain to lead healthier lives, using the slogan "eat well, move more, live longer"
A spokesman for the Department of Health told the Telegraph: "Active video games, where kids need to jump up and down or dance about as part of the game, are a great way to get kids moving."
Jan 08, 2009
The current issue of Science has a special section on the use of technology in education.
I found particularly interesting the article by Chris Dede about the potential offered by immersive interfaces for learning. According to Dede, the key benefit of immersive media is their ability to combine actional, symbolic, and perceptual factors, providing the participant with the impression that she or he is "inside" a digitally enhanced setting.
In another article included in this special issue, Merrilea Mayo reviews the most promising applications of videogames in science and technology education, and describes the challenges to be faced for the wider adoption of this approach.
Jan 05, 2008
BusinessWeek has published an article this week where David Boker, senior director of the Business Development Group at Microsoft's Aces Studio, one of Microsoft's game studios where ESP was developed, says Microsoft conservatively estimates Serious Games market at $9 billion.
The Serious Games market is currently valued at about $150 million, according to Ben Sawyer, president of the Portland (Me.) consulting firm Digitalmill and co-director of the Serious Games Initiative. While not huge, that's nearly three times more than in 2005, according to Sawyer's estimates, and growth looks set to continue.
Apr 22, 2007
Cognitive Informatics investigates usability and training effectiveness of a game-based training application in the domain of cyber-security education. They conducted a usability evaluation and described cognitive principles that may be used as part of a systematic process to design more effective serious games as resources in education and training.
Apr 05, 2007
Bangkok, Thailand -- Concerned about a news report of a boy attacking his mother because she refused to give him money to play online games, a senior officer at the Religious Affairs Department decided to create a game himself.
Ethics Game", created by Pakorn Tancharoen, director of the Moral and Ethical Development Office works by using a principled game to overcome decadent games.
.... He spent his after-work time at online-game arcades to observe what kinds of games attract children.
"Most of them were about killing," he said.
He then devised a game plot that includes four main characters: Dharmmahapanyo, an old respected monk; Charn, an orphaned boy who is mischievous but clever; Nu Na, a girl who is clever and kind-hearted; and Paloe, a big half-Chinese boy who was born into a rich family and likes to tease others, especially animals.
Pakorn said he had initially asked children to participate in designing physical images of the four characters because he wanted them to win kids' hearts.
The three kids have to follow the monk on a pilgrimage. There are many barriers they have to face during the journey. Only intelligence, goodness and morals help get them past the barriers.
Killing might be the aim in most popular games, but in "Ethics Game", hurting even an animal means you lose points.
Mar 19, 2007
Against conventional wisdom, the computer training in MindFit(tm) cognitive skill assessment and training software, created by CogniFit, Ltd. http://www.cognifit.com), was found to improve short-term memory, spatial relations and attention focus--all skills used in driving and other daily activities that maintain our independence as we age.
The trial was conducted at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center of Tel-Aviv University in Israel, where researchers are taking a leading role in the study of age-related disorders. During the two-year clinical trial, doctors conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blind study with active comparators of 121 self-referred volunteer participants age 50 and older. Each study participant was randomly assigned to spend 30 minutes, three times a week during the course of three months at home, using either MindFit or sophisticated computer games.
While all study participants benefited from the use of computer games, MindFit users experienced greater improvement in the cognitive domains of spatial short term memory, visuo-spatial learning and focused attention. Additionally, MindFit users in the study with lower baseline cognitive performance gained more than those with normal cognition, showing the potential therapeutic effect of home-based computer training software in those already suffering the effects of aging or more serious diseases.
"These research findings show unequivocally that MindFit, which requires no previous computer experience of users, keeps minds sharper than other computer games and software can," said Prof. Shlomo Breznitz, Ph.D., founder and president of CogniFit. "In fact, the same cognitive domains that MindFit keeps sharp are also central in most daily activities-including driving-that enable aging independently."
Breznitz continued, "These findings support CogniFit's belief that if you exercise your brain just as you do your muscles, you can build the speed and accuracy of your mental functions, significantly. 'Working out' with MindFit three times a week from the comfort of your home will yield similar results for your brain as exercising at the gym with that same frequency does for your muscles."
"We are additionally encouraged by the implications of our findings for those already below baseline in cognitive performance," said Nir Giladi, M.D., principal investigator, senior neurologist for the Department of Neurology for Tel-Aviv University's Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and faculty member in Tel-Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine. "In the future, we may research MindFit's effect on Alzheimer's disease and forms of dementia."
MindFit software helps to assess and build overall cognitive skills for baby boomers, seniors and people of all ages. In other research studies, MindFit has helped users to improve their short-term memory by 18 percent. The comprehensive cognitive training program assesses, trains and enhances cognitive skills--including memory, focus, learning and concentration and safeguards overall cognitive vitality, an overall concept patented by CogniFit.
After an initial assessment session, users are encouraged to train with the software on their home PCs three times a week for 20 minutes a day. Then, MindFit provides fun, individualized training to match users' unique cognitive skill sets, changing exercises and levels to suit each individual's unique needs. No other cognitive assessment or training software product on the market has that personally tailoring technology.
Feb 25, 2007
The Serious Games Institute will be based at Coventry University Technology Park and built on the West Midlands’ excellence in computer games to diversify into non-entertainment uses such as simulation, education and training.
The centre is currently under construction and will be linked into satellite centres at Coventry University and the University of Warwick.
The Serious Games Institute will be fully operational by the autumn of 2007 but it will be holding a series of events to raise awareness between now and the opening date, including a special serious games workshop on Tuesday March 20 at the Technocentre Creativity Lab.
Sep 17, 2006
The latest BusinessWeek has an interesting report on brain training software. Although there is poor scientific evidence of the effectiveness of this approach in improving brain function, preliminary findings are encouraging:
This summer Posit released two studies [of their $395 Brain Fitness program] that Merzenich says prove its worth. One, involving 182 healthy people 60 and over, assigned half the group to Posit's brain exercises for eight weeks. The rest were asked only to watch educational DVDs. The researchers found that 93% of the Brain Fitness group significantly improved their memory function, while the control group did not.
In a second study released this summer, Posit's program was tried on 45 people diagnosed with MCI. PET scans of the brains of 15 participants were taken before and after the study. There was some evidence of memory gains in the Brain Fitness group, and the PET scans revealed a decline in brain activity in those who did not use the brain exercises. Brain activity held steady for the rest. "We've seen 80-year-old people improve from being sluggish and slow to having the mental performance level of a 35-year-old," says Merzenich.