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FreePint BlogSerious gaming Ė letís play

Wednesday, 12th October 2011 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Joanna Ptolomey


A recent New York Times article reports on the new Harun Farocki film art installation at the Museum of Modern Art. The film and video, called Serious Games, work around the images of war and deal with the use of video game technology for training the modern soldier.

Disturbing it may well be. Designed for purpose is a certain "yes". Serious gaming is a trend that is continuing to gain relevance in many industries as a useful training and problem solving tool.  

Without a doubt one of the most interesting strands from DigiPharm was around serious gaming use. These games are not just about fun, they should have a purpose in mind.

Mark Petersen presented an awareness session of healthcare-related serious gaming; including Darfur is Dying, Mind and Body, Immune Attack and Didget. He introduced Dr Trombino, a serious game he helped create at Boeringher Ingelheim, where your mission is to prevent a blood clot. The presentation reported on the process of game product development, including the costings which were reported to be around the €7,000 mark for build.

There was no promotion of the game, it is available to download free from the Apps store - and they have passed the base load number for free downloads. The success, so far, of this game provides some further evidence for the role and development of serious gaming for the healthcare sector.

Why is gaming serious in this sector? The general consensus is that intervention adherence (drug and other) is improved with games and gaming.  For example, a new game, developed at the University of Utah using PlayStation technology, has been developed recently to help children with cancer feel more empowered to cope with their physical therapies.

Another well-received game, Re-Mission, was developed for teenagers with cancer by the non-profit HopeLab and the efficacy has been trialled finding that it improved drug adherence. Wellbeing and being able to cope with life are the reasons behind SuperMe – a game about resilience and coping when things go wrong for young people.

Does serious gaming make a better world? Until recently I would not have been sure but Jane McGonigal, a TED presenter, thinks so. She talks about how gaming opportunities allow people to see the possibilities of the Epic Win scenario – whether it be solving world hunger or eradicating disease with help of other people all focused on the same mission. Her talk is quite compelling.

I am not a gamer, but listening to Jane and on hearing the efforts at DigiPharm, I am intrigued by the possibilities, sense of empowerment and collaborative efforts that gaming could bring to solving complex and unwieldy issues.

Let’s get serious about games. 


About this item:

Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

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