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May 14, 2010

2010 Games for Health Conference

From the conference's press release

The Games for Health Project announced the sixth annual Games for Health Conference, to be held at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel from May 25 to 27.

Held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Pioneer Portfolio, the conference focuses on supporting ideas that may lead to breakthroughs in the future of health and health care. The Pioneer Portfolio has funded the Games for Health Project and this conference since 2004, to serve as a catalyst connecting diverse professional groups and creating opportunities to develop innovative solutions that help people live healthier lives and get the care they need.

“The Games for Health Conference joins leaders in health care and game development to initiate compelling new ideas and solutions,” said Ben Sawyer, founder of the Games for Health Project. “Attendees can expect an interactive and dynamic conference platform with valuable content, networking opportunities and community-led tracks.”

“This annual conference has become the premier event attracting the top minds in game development and health care,” said Paul Tarini, M.A., RWJF senior program officer and team director for the Pioneer Portfolio. “Games can effectively motivate people to adopt healthier behaviors, empower patients to better manage their health, and raise medical training and skill development to new levels.”

Conference Overview

The three-day conference will offer over 55 sessions featuring 100 speakers covering a wide range of topics such as exergaming, cognitive and emotional health, simulation and learning, virtual worlds and more. Sessions include a discussion about dreams and video game play with Jayne Gackenbach of Grand MacEwan University; a panel about the effect games can have on global health such as flu epidemics; and a presentation by Yale School of Medicine’s Dr. Lynn Sullivan on a National Institute of Health-funded project for HIV Prevention in At-Risk Adolescents.

The conference will also feature a game demo room as well as an outdoor game pavilion.

For more information visit the conference's website


May 12, 2008


Via Technology Review 

Players of a new online game called Foldit will help design three-dimensional protein structures for HIV vaccines, and enzymes for repairing DNA in diseased tissues. David Baker, a leading protein scientist at the University of Washington, teamed up with computer scientists to create the game.




01:35 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Dec 08, 2007

The Glucoboy for Diakids

Re-blogged from Medgadget


Parents with diabetic kids know how difficult it often is to convince the young ones to take regular glucose readings. Now a Minnesota company called Guidance Interactive Healthcare managed to fuse a portable glucometer with a Nintendo Game Boy Advance videogame cartridge. The idea is that the hybrid cartridge is preloaded with a number of games, and kids have to submit themselves to regular readings in order to unlock games and get points that can then be used in the games to get to higher levels.

Currently only available in Australia, the device should prove a hit with the parents, while the kids might be wondering why they got a locked down game cartridge that feeds on human blood for Christmas.


Glucoboy product page...


18:16 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Oct 09, 2007

Serious Games approaches to challenging racism in the workplace

There is an incident at work. One of your fellow colleagues has come to you to ask advice about the way in which a member of your team is making them feel. They believe they are being treated differently from you and the rest of the team because they are from an ethnic minority. It may or may not be racism. The fact is your colleague is feeling
discriminated against. What do you do?
This scenario is just one in a series of Bytesize Basics serious games which are designed to allow 'frontline workers' to 'play' with methods of inclusive service delivery away from the frontline. Users are immersed in a virtual safe haven to explore the consequences of their actions in choosing a 'solution' which leads to a video outcome scenario of the likely impact of their choice or decision. Players are also offered counsel support from a virtual tutor expert. Individual or collective users are given the opportunity to play out a numbered of potential scenarios. These are based on their solutions choices to further imbed understanding of likely outcome when seeking to support a colleague in the workplace who confides they are feeling discriminated against.

The Institute of Digital Learning at the University of Wales, Newport (UK) has been successfully applying serious games positive technologies as a mechanism of empowering workers with virtual experience and knowledge transfer that allows them to deal with situations relating to Equality & Diversity as they arise in a workplace settings.
The Challenging Racism in the workplace serious game is one of open source resources developed as part of the Addressing Barriers - Enhancing Services series of Equality and Diversity etraining resources as part of the European Social Fund Welsh Equal Equinex project. Dave Phillips from the South East Wales Racial Equality Council was instrumental in developing the eTraining resource.  Other approaches include the use of virtual tutor expert tutorials, topic resource manuals and MP3 downloads. In addition to Racial Equality training the other Awareness raising topics include Homelessness Awareness, Disability Equality and Age Diversity contextualised for frontline workers in the Welsh/ UK Lifelong Learning sector.  

For further information and to access the serious games and wider etraining as free resources please visit http://equal.newport.ac.uk


Matt Chilcott and Nick Savage

Institute of Digital Learning, University of Wales, Newport


10:47 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Feb 17, 2007

New Video Games Aim at Improving Mental Health

From Medgadget


Psychologist Mark Baldwin has developed and clinically tested a new commercial software, Mindhabits, that aims to decrease stress and build self-esteem:


MindHabits produces computer software designed to help people reduce their stress levels and boost their self-confidence, using games that automatically retrain the way the mind responds to social stress. This patent pending technology is the result of a decade of research by scientists at McGill University, one of the world's top medical research centers. The software -- based on the emerging science of social intelligence -- helps you practice the mind habit of focusing on positive social feedback, which in turn reduces stress levels and improves self-confidence...

Our starting point is past research showing that insecurity feelings and daily stress arise, in large part, from anxieties about whether one will be liked, accepted, and respected by one's peers and significant others. Sometimes people are aware of these concerns, but often social insecurities of this type influence people's thoughts and feelings "automatically", without a lot of deliberate thought and sometimes even entirely outside of their awareness. All they experience are negative reactions to the self or to social situations.

People with fewer insecurities, on the other hand, seem to have a range of automatic thought processes that make them confident and buffer them from worrying about the possibility of social rejection. Fortunately, our recent research shows that with enough practice, even people prone to stress and low self-esteem can develop these beneficial thought processes that might allow them to gradually become more secure and self-confident. We started with the idea that just as playing the game Tetris over and over for hours can start to shape the way you look at the world (even in your dreams!), playing a specially-designed computer game might also help to improve your thoughts and feelings about yourself.

We drew on research showing that certain people have attentional biases toward socially threatening information, so they automatically focus on any sign of rejection or criticism from others, which in turn perpetuates their sensitivity to rejection and heightened tendency to experience social stress. The attentional training software teaches people to look for the smiling/approving person in a crowd of frowning faces. By doing this repeatedly and as quickly as possible, this trains an automatic response of looking for acceptance and ignoring rejection. In several studies we have shown that after using the software, people become less distracted by rejection, and they become less stressed at work and school.

GRAViTONUS® Gaming System For Quadriplegics

From Medgadget



Gravitonus, a new medical device company from Russia, has created Alternative Computer Control System (ACCS), a system designed to help paralyzed individuals control computers and 'resume active lifestyles'.


Any person with physical disabilities is entitled to active interaction with all aspects of social life, independent personal life, self-determination, freedom of choice, as are all other human beings.

The concept of independent personal life assumes elimination of dependency from manifestations of an illness, removal of limitations generated by the illness, becoming functionally independent, formation of skills indispensable in day-to-day social engagements that should enable incorporation and problem free participation in all types of social activities, finally resulting in meaningful development as a valuable member of society.

People with paralyzed legs and hands (quadriplegics) can not execute any movement of arms and legs. At a high lesion of a spinal cord in cervical department of a vertebral column skeletal muscles cease to operate completely. Only the groups of mandibulo-facial muscles and tongue remain functional as they are innervated by cerebral nerves which are anatomically irrelevant to the spinal cord.

The proposed alternative hands-free computer control system ACCS - Alternative Computer Control System - is being already effectively used by SCI (spinal cord injury) patients who have become completely immobilized. If incorporated into personnal computer, home electronics and personnal movement control systems, ACCS will provide a person with an additional control contour, which will allow for continuous computer control.

ACCS GRAViTONUS® has high level of precision positioning, discontinuity, low response time, and is resistant to all kinds of noise interference.

ACCS is placed in a person's mouth (and comprises a tongue controlled directional command module along with 12 additional commands). It does not interfere with breathing, talk and consumption of fluids.

Without resorting to outside assistance, users can operate his or her movement accessory device, independently make telephone calls and respond to them. They can even be virtually present in any part of a house and actively participate in the life of their family, as well as use unlimited capabilities of the computer and INTERNET.

Completely motionless and otherwise helpless persons can compensate for lack of physical capabilities with their intellectual potential. ACCS GRAViTONUS® allows:
1. To realize many common professional skills, e.g., engage in scientific research, teaching, legal work, economic studies, engineering, medical, literary, musical and art activities, as well as countless other skills.
2. To gain new knowledge via remote education, on-line libraries, etc.


Product Page 

Promotional Video 


20:44 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Dec 03, 2006

Games for Health Competition

Re-blogged from Videogame workout 

The Games for Health Competition runs from October 19 to April 1, 2007.

[there are] three specific competitions - two for storyboards & game treatments, and a grand prize for best working prototype/game. The following links provide basic information on each competition:

Student Storyboard & Treatment ($5,000 prize)
Organization Storyboard & Treatment ($5,000 prize)
Open Prototype/Health Game ($20,000 prize)

Five finalists will be announced in each competition with one finalist receiving the prize for that competition.

Official Rules are available

13:34 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

A serious workout game

Via Videogame Workout

oh, that's brilliant! 

For many people, exercise is simply boring, so they turn to devices that can help them keep their minds off what they’re doing while they exercise. Entertainment fitness uses technology to engage users rather than distract them.

Tetris Weightlifting is a prototype entertainment fitness system that allows players to lift weights as the means of control for a modified version of Tetris. User testing with the device suggests great potential for combining casual games with exercise activity.


Link to the Tetris Weightlifting website

13:25 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Nov 01, 2006

A game to help Swahili youths educate themselves about HIV prevention

via Medgadget

HIV Video Game.jpg

UNICEF has released a game to help Swahili youths educate themselves about HIV prevention and testing.

From the UN homepage:

Seeking to reach East African adolescents and young people in the battle against AIDS, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has launched its first interactive feature in Swahili, an online game that empowers the young to make good life choices and prevent HIV.

The game, called 'Ungefanyaje' or 'What would you do?' in Swahili, takes the player through a series of relationship-based scenarios that emphasize the importance of HIV prevention and testing.

"Although prevention is essential to half the spread of HIV/AIDS, an alarming 80 per cent of all young people still don't know how to protect themselves from the virus," UNICEF said in a news release, noting that sub-Saharan Africa has been especially hard-hit by the epidemic.

"By speaking openly about the threat that HIV and AIDS poses to young people, we can help give them the knowledge they need to keep them safe from infection," said Amber Oliver, Coordinator of Voices of Youth, an Internet site created by UNICEF for the young who want to know more, do more and say more about the world.

"It is estimated that of the 2.3 million children under 15 living with HIV, 2 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. Reaching young people with prevention education and services is a crucial step towards an AIDS-free generation."


The game is available in English as well as Swahili


22:10 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Oct 26, 2006

Middle-East Conflict Informs Game

From Networked Performance


"Global Conflict: Palestine gives the option of three perspectives. A game based in the midst of the conflict in the Palestinian territories is set to be the latest release in the trend of politically-conscious gaming. Global Conflict: Palestine centres on the activities of a young journalist. The player must navigate between different Palestinian and Israeli sources to get to the truth of a story. "You can take a pro-Palestinian angle, a balanced angle, or a pro-Israeli angle," said Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen, of Serious Games Interactive. Mr Egenfeldt-Nielsen told the BBC's Culture Shock programme: "The game is much more about the personal experience; the emotional experience."

The player walks around a city resembling Jerusalem and its surrounding areas talking to people. As the conflict intensifies, however, the situation becomes increasingly complex and exposes some of the reasons for the ongoing violence ... Different perspectives: Global Conflict: Palestine, which is released early next year, follows music channel MTV's internet-based Darfur Is Dying, which went online earlier this year and had 700,000 players in its first month. Later, tens of thousands of players sent e-mail messages to politicians to urge action over Darfur."

From Middle-East Conflict Informs Game, BBC News.

21:56 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Sep 30, 2006

Gaming Realities

Re-blogged from Networked Performance 

By luis on Opportunities + Events + Resources


What role do videogames play in our lives today? As the boundaries between the virtual and the real blur more and more in the new gaming worlds we have come to inhabit, new conditions arise.

With the theme Gaming Realities, medi@terra 06 aims to explore the different dimensions and developments in the gaming fields and the impact they have on the different fields of society today. This year's Festival and International Conference set up to explore the diverse ideas, narratives, and ideologies involved in the video games.

Videogames express and reflect today's world, its aesthetics and technologies, give rise to new identities and new mentalities. Medi@terra Festival has invited individuals who have realised the importance and dimensions which this field has acquired, asking them to deposit their viewpoints and experiences with regard to the connections of the game to society, the identity and psychology of the player, the space and narration of the game, new technologies and conceptions and possibilities for the computer game to comprise the key art of 21st century.

'Gaming Realities: the Challenge of Digital Culture' is a three days International Conference [6-8 October, Athens] organised by Fournos Centre for the Digital Culture.

Sep 26, 2006

Gametrack: a new device for virtual rehabilitation?

Via VR Geek

The Gametrak is a real 3DOF tracker, which can be used with both hands. According to the company, the system is able to calculate the exact position in 3D space, with a spatial resolution of 1 millimetre anywhere within a 3m cube around the unit, with no processor overhead or time delay (that seems quite unrealistic to me, but if they write it...)

Strings attached to the user's hands allows the system to measure the distance and angles from the base item on the ground; these information are used to calculate the x,y, and z coordinates of the hands.

Given these features, the Gametrack system could be effectively applied in post-stroke rehabilitation of the upper limb and in other computer-based programs for neurorehabilitation. In fact, the Gametrack can be easily programmed and adapted to existing applications. Further, the cost of the device is very cheap (about 30€) if compared to other virtual rehabilitation hardware.    

If any Positive Technology reader wishes to try the system for rehabilitation purposes, we would be very interested in knowing the results  

See The Original Gametrak Promotional Video


Sep 16, 2006

Video game-based exercises for balance rehabilitation

Video game-based exercises for balance rehabilitation: a single-subject design.

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006 Aug;87(8):1141-9

Authors: Betker AL, Szturm T, Moussavi ZK, Nett C

OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether coupling foot center of pressure (COP)-controlled video games to standing balance exercises will improve dynamic balance control and to determine whether the motivational and challenging aspects of the video games would increase a subject's desire to perform the exercises and complete the rehabilitation process. DESIGN: Case study, pre- and postexercise. SETTING: University hospital outpatient clinic. PARTICIPANTS: A young adult with excised cerebellar tumor, 1 middle-aged adult with single right cerebrovascular accident, and 1 middle-aged adult with traumatic brain injury. INTERVENTION: A COP-controlled, video game-based exercise system. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The following were calculated during 12 different tasks: the number of falls, range of COP excursion, and COP path length. RESULTS: Postexercise, subjects exhibited a lower fall count, decreased COP excursion limits for some tasks, increased practice volume, and increased attention span during training. CONCLUSIONS: The COP-controlled video game-based exercise regime motivated subjects to increase their practice volume and attention span during training. This in turn improved subjects' dynamic balance control.

Aug 07, 2006

Social Impact Games

Social Impact Games is a comprehensive web repository of serious games, which are video games used for education and training purposes.
The not-for-profit SIG catalog includes over 200 serious games, listed under different categories (i.e. education, health, public policy, etc.). 
The website has several additional resources, such as links to other serious gaming initiatives, free full-text articles and reports, and design guidelines for developers.

14:43 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Aug 02, 2006

Animation can be outlet for victimized children, a tool for research

From the University of Illinois press release 
Animation is a proven vehicle for biting comedy, a la "The Simpsons" and "South Park." But some of the same qualities that make it work for comedy make it valuable, too, as an outlet for victimized children and for a new research method that tests the empathy of teachers who may deal with them, says Sharon Tettegah, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tettegah believes so strongly in the value of animation – specifically “animated narrative vignette simulations” – that she sought out a computer science professor at Illinois, Brian Bailey, to help develop her concept for a child-friendly program for producing them.

The program that resulted, called Clover, gives children, as well as adults, a tool for making and sharing their own vignettes about their personal and sometimes painful stories.

According to Tettegah, the program is the only one she is aware of that allows the user to write the narrative, script the dialogue, storyboard the graphics and add voice and animation, all within one application. Those four major aspects of producing a vignette gave rise to the name “Clover,” the plant considered to bring good luck in its four-leaf form.

A paper about Clover, written by Bailey, Tettegah and graduate student Terry Bradley, has been published in the July issue of the journal Interacting With Computers.

In other research, Tettegah has used animations as a tool for gauging the empathy of teachers and others who might deal with children and their stories of victimization. One study with college education majors, or teachers-in-training, showed only one in 10 expressing a high degree of empathy for the victim, she said.

A paper about that study has been accepted by the journal Contemporary Educational Psychology (CEP), with publication slated for later this year. The co-author of the study is Carolyn Anderson, a professor of educational psychology at Illinois.

ECGBL 2007: The European Conference on Games Based Learning

University of Paisley, Scotland, UK 25-26 October 2007

Over the last ten years, the way in which education and training is delivered has changed considerably with the advent of new technologies. One such new technology that holds considerable promise for helping to engage learners is Games-Based Learning (GBL).

The Conference offers an opportunity for scholars and practitioners interested in the issues related to GBL to share their thinking and research findings. The conference examines the question “Can Games-Based Learning Enhance Learning?” and seeks high-quality papers that address this question. Papers can cover various issues and aspects of GBL in education and training: technology and implementation issues associated with the development of GBL; use of mobile and MMOGs for learning; pedagogical issues associated with GBL; social and ethical issues in GBL; GBL best cases and practices, and other related aspects. We are particularly interested in empirical research that addresses whether GBL enhances learning. This Conference provides a forum for discussion, collaboration and intellectual exchange for all those interested in any of these fields of research or practice.

Important dates:
Abstract submission deadline: 17 May 2007
Notification of abstract acceptance: 24 May 2007
Full paper due for review: 5 July 2007
Notification of paper acceptance: 16 August 2007
Final paper due (with any changes): 6 September 2007

A full call for papers, online submission and registration forms and all other details are available on the conference website.

Aug 01, 2006

Drinking Games

Via Medgadget

Miles Cox, professor of the psychology of addictive behaviors at the University of Wales, is experimenting a computer-based approach to get alcoholics to ignore the potent cues that trigger their craving. The study has been covered by MIT Technology Review:

Just as these responses can be conditioned, they can also be de-conditioned, reasons Cox. His computer program helps abusers deal with the sight of alcohol, since it's often the first cue they experience in daily life. The program presents a series of pictures, beginning with an alcohol bottle inside a thick, colored frame. As fast as they can, users must identify the color of the frame. As users get faster, the test gets harder: the frame around the bottles becomes thinner. Finally, an alcohol bottle appears next to a soda bottle, both inside colored frames. Users must identify the color of the circle around the soda. The tasks teach users to "ignore the alcohol bottle" in increasingly difficult situations, says Cox.

Such tests have long been used to study attention phenomena in alcohol abusers, but they have never been used for therapy, says Cox. His group adapted the test for this new purpose by adding elements of traditional therapy. Before the tests, users set goals on how quickly they want to react; a counselor makes sure the goals are achievable. After each session, users see how well they did. The positive feedback boosts users' motivation and mood, Cox says.


Find more on the ESRC study page


Jul 29, 2006

Simulated violence experiment

Via Omni Brain


According to this press release, psychologists at Iowa State have done the first study on violence desensitization from video games.

From the press release:

Ames, Iowa -- Research led by a pair of Iowa State University psychologists has proven for the first time that exposure to violent video games can desensitize individuals to real-life violence.

Nicholas Carnagey, an Iowa State psychology instructor and research assistant, and ISU Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson collaborated on the study with Brad Bushman, a former Iowa State psychology professor now at the University of Michigan and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

They authored a paper titled "The Effects of Video Game Violence on Physiological Desensitization to Real-Life Violence," which was published in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, a professional journal. In this paper, the authors define desensitization to violence as "a reduction in emotion-related physiological reactivity to real violence."

Their paper reports that past research -- including their own studies -- documents that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal and aggressive behaviors, and decreases helpful behaviors. Previous studies also found that more than 85 percent of video games contain some violence, and approximately half of video games include serious violent actions.

Their latest study tested 257 college students (124 men and 133 women) individually. After taking baseline physiological measurements on heart rate and galvanic skin response -- and asking questions to control for their preference for violent video games and general aggression -- participants then played one of eight randomly assigned violent or non-violent video games for 20 minutes. The four violent video games were Carmageddon, Duke Nukem, Mortal Kombat or Future Cop; the non-violent games were Glider Pro, 3D Pinball, 3D Munch Man and Tetra Madness.

After playing a video game, a second set of five-minute heart rate and skin response measurements were taken. Participants were then asked to watch a 10-minute videotape of actual violent episodes taken from TV programs and commercially-released films in the following four contexts: courtroom outbursts, police confrontations, shootings and prison fights. Heart rate and skin response were monitored throughout the viewing.

When viewing real violence, participants who had played a violent video game experienced skin response measurements significantly lower than those who had played a non-violent video game. The participants in the violent video game group also had lower heart rates while viewing the real-life violence compared to the nonviolent video game group.

"The results demonstrate that playing violent video games, even for just 20 minutes, can cause people to become less physiologically aroused by real violence," said Carnagey. "Participants randomly assigned to play a violent video game had relatively lower heart rates and galvanic skin responses while watching footage of people being beaten, stabbed and shot than did those randomly assigned to play nonviolent video games.


See also a critique to this article by Ed Castronova, a "synthetic worlds" researcher.

21:05 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Apr 07, 2006

1st Annual Serious Games Showcase

The First Annual Serious Games Showcase and Challenge will occur at this year’s I/ITSEC Conference held in Orlando, Fl December 4-7, 2006. Student and very small business based Serious Games developers can use this as a venue to get their games in front of the huge crowd that attends each years I/ITSEC Conference. Last year over 16,000 people from over 40 countries were in attendance for the worlds’ largest simulation and training conference.

11:05 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Mar 29, 2006

Video games tackle 'lazy eye'


By Gareth Mitchell
Presenter, Digital Planet, BBC World Service

Playing virtual reality computer games may help treat the condition known as amblyopia, or lazy eye, say researchers. In patients with amblyopia, one eye works better than the other. Because the amblyopic eye is inferior for some reason, the brain decides to use the good eye. Over time, the neural connection to the bad eye becomes gradually weaker in favour of the good eye. The traditional way of fixing the problem is for patients to force the bad eye to work harder by wearing a patch over the good eye. The treatment usually involves patching for around 400 hours and can cause the eyes not to work together, resulting in double vision.

Researchers at Nottingham University say that an experimental treatment using virtual reality (VR) may offer the best of both worlds, encouraging the lazy eye to be more active and getting both eyes to work together.
"Traditionally VR has been used to present realistic environments in 3D so you imagine you're there because of the depth of the world around you," said Richard Eastgate of the university's Virtual Reality Applications Research Team.
"But we're using VR to make something unrealistic. You could call it virtual unreality," he told Digital Planet...

Read the full story from BBC NEWS

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