On Wednesday 14th May I attended the Games for Health UK conference, held at Coventry University’s Simulation Centre. This was a satellite event linked to Games for Health Europe, which is an organisation based in Amsterdam.
Jurriaan van Rijswijk spoke first, talking about Games for Health’s vision of using games as a way to change education, promoting active learning and behavioural change. As an organisation they want to help game creators in institutions to share their work more widely. He also said that the ‘Games for Health’ book that they had published, which contained proceedings from their 3rd annual conference, encouraged people to take the organisation more seriously.
Next, Sebastian Yuen talked about wearable technology and how this can be used to change patient behaviours. He was able to talk about his own experience using Fitbit and talked about the possibilities around using badges.
Charlotte Lambden who is a Research Therapist at Newcastle University spoke about a game that they had developed to help with the rehabilitation of people such as stroke victims. It is called Limbs Alive and encouraged people to perform a range of movements and tasks, helping the patient see their progress.
Paul Canty from Preloaded spoke about a range of games for health. You can explore further on the Games with Purpose and Games for Change websites, but examples were FoldIt, Family of Heroes, The Walk, Dys4ia, Actual Sunlight, and Touch Surgery.
Pamela Kato talked about the future of games for health. She says we need research to help us understand if games work, for whom, when and how. We need quality games, and distribution channels so there are places where people know that they will find high quality games. She also gave advice on making games saying to be precise about what you want when dealing with game development studios, because they cannot do your job as a medical professional or academic. She was keen on people hiring artists to work on the game to make them look better, and including the target group in development at each stage to make sure there is nothing that would prevent that group using the game. Games she mentioned were Re-Mission 2, and Plan-It Commander.
Jamie MacDonald from Fosse Games shared from his long experience in the games industry, again pointing out the importance of quality and customer recommendations in making a game a success. He said a key area to look at is innovation. This can be leading in new categories of games, with new audiences, and in using new hardware, but it can also be smaller scale evolutionary innovation within an existing genre.
Over all I was impressed by the organisation and its aims. There was a focus on the importance of producing quality games, and on sharing games that have been created. Because of the cost of creating quality games, the reuse and sharing of what has been created seems vital if the use of them is to grow and make the investment worthwhile.
It is certainly going to be useful to keep in touch with what is going on in this organisation, to know what sort of educational games are being created and how people are using them in health contexts.
Learning Technology Development Officer