The 8th Annual Games for HealthConference is now in the rear view mirror!   On June 12-14 hundreds of game developers,health professionals, and leading researchers gathered to discover, brainstorm,and debate how videogame and videogames technologies can work to improve health& healthcare.

Founded in 2004, the Games forHealth Project supports community, knowledge and business development effortsto use cutting-edge games and game technologies to improve health and healthcare. The Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the leadconference sponsor and a major supporter of the Games for Health Project.

The quest for better health games isalmost as old as video games themselves and filled with “a lot of falsestarts and a lot of products that are not that efficacious,” says BenSawyer, organizer of the conference, which is part of a project sponsored by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.

But one thing experts can agree on inthe future games will increasingly be:

•Mobile. Phones, tablets andother devices will make games cheaper, more accessible, more personalized andmore private. (Think about a teen playing a game about HIV risks on his phone, rather than acomputer in his classroom, Sawyer says.)

•Sensor-based. Wearable sensors willbecome cheaper and will communicate more seamlessly with our other devices,making it easier and more fun to track, tweak and build games around everythingfrom our daily step counts to our sleeping patterns.

•Social. Friends, familymembers, online acquaintances and even virtual partners will spur players tohigher performance, research suggests.

•Based on behavior-change research. “Knowledge canchange behavior, but it’s not enough,” Lieberman says.

 

Jane McGonigal was one of thekeynotes and a Game Developer herself. The author is credited with creating SuperBetter, an online gameshe invented after she was laid low by a concussion. An additional 35,000 peoplehave played the game in attempts to build resilience and reach health andwellness goals of their own — losing weight, stopping smoking, recovering fromsurgery or injury, she says.

With applications affecting everything from health andwellness to rehab and physical therapy, PTSD, stroke rehabilitation, autism andmore, there’s no reason games shouldn’t have a big role to play in health.

That’s why expertsfrom heavy hitters such as Microsoft and United Health, Yale and UPenn – designers,developers, care providers and more, from as far afield as Glasgow, Vienna andKyushu – convened in Boston last week.

Games offer a wholelot more value beyond mere entertainment, Poetter pointed out. They canmotivate people to overcome challenges; enable them to visualize change andprogress; improve self-efficacy through knowledge and goal sharing andfacilitate patient/provider communication and interaction.

As gaming continues to evolve intomore Exergaming categories Motion Fitness continue to be positioned to delivereven better products, service, programming and gaming options than everbefore.  As the Games for Healthconference continues to show, Gaming and Health are here to stay.