Patricia Gruver

Patricia Gruver

Science & Innovation Officer

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

4th April 2016 Los Angeles, USA

Why So Serious? Brits play serious games with US researchers to improve health outcomes

By Science and Innovation Officer Patricia Gruver and Head of Science and Innovation Washington Catharine Young 

Imagine a child playing video games for hours on end with their parents’ full awareness and support. Sound like poor parenting? Not if the child is playing serious games.

What is a serious game, you may ask? A serious game is a video game with a twist. Instead of role-playing as a dragon humanoid in an online world of magic, the game is carefully designed to improve your health. Serious games can improve compliance among young children with cystic fibrosis or improve attention in children with ADHD.

But more importantly, the benefits of serious games expand beyond the confines of direct personal health benefits. For example, gaming can be used to test the emergency preparedness of a hospital. Therefore, it is clear that there is an array of applications for video games within the health care system, and we are only beginning to see the full potential and overall healthcare benefits of this research.

When determining the frontrunner in this emerging field, it is the clear that the UK is the winner. “Serious Games” is a tool now being implemented by UK hospitals, researched by top tier UK universities, funded with national health grants and earning both positive publicity and wide software distribution.

This is why the Science and Innovation Network (SIN) USA sponsored a group of UK serious games researchers to present their work together with US counterparts, the first UK-US workshop of its kind.

Spanning over two days and hosted by two world renowned serious games experts Dr. Frank Lee and Dr. Pam Kato at Drexel University’s ExCITe Center, researchers shared enlightening results of their current research projects. Topics ranged from using serious games to assist patients with schizophrenia, mild cognitive impairment, respiratory challenges and stroke rehabilitation.

In addition, experts discussed a variety of broader topics, including the challenges the field faces within the constraints of strict federal regulations and how this innovative approach to addressing healthcare needs is beginning to be taken seriously by industry.

Overall, the serious games workshop had a serious impact on all those who attended. The goal of creating a transatlantic network of serious gaming experts and facilitating the exchange of knowledge between the US and the UK was most definitely achieved. To read more about this “game” changing conference, click here, here and here.

1 comment on “Why So Serious? Brits play serious games with US researchers to improve health outcomes

  1. Hi Patricia,

    I realise that the main focus of the workshop was electronic/video games but I’d like to fly the flag for tabletop games and the face-to-face interaction they catalyse. We have developed a wide range of board games to help frontline clinical and support staff make small improvements to care delivery and so improve patient safety and outcomes.

    Several of our games are being used in the USA in health and social care.

    I’d be happy to explain them in more detail if you’re interested.

    Regards, Andy
    Focus Games Ltd

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