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Another of today's main Gamasutra features, as part of <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/sgsdc2005/">this week's Serious Games Summit coverage</a>, is an excerpt from San...

Simon Carless, Blogger

October 31, 2005

2 Min Read

Another of today's main Gamasutra features, as part of this week's Serious Games Summit coverage, is an excerpt from Sande Chen and David Michael's book 'Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform', which takes a look at how to utilize the educational benefits of video games, and how a number of serious games now exist that target healthcare and well-being, like the “exergaming” game, Yourself!Fitness, and the biofeedback game, The Wild Divine Project, which combines breathing techniques and meditation with biofeedback. In this part, Chen and Michael discuss so-called 'distraction therapy' in the field of healthcare and gaming: "How much pain a person experiences often depends on how much conscious attention the person gives to the pain signals. Video games and virtual reality (VR), with their ability to immerse the individual in a computer-generated environment, have been shown to be effective in focusing a patient's attention away from their medical treatment and the pain they are experiencing. Immersed in the world of the game, they are not as consciously aware of what is going on around them, and they miss a proportion of the pain signals. The Believe In Tomorrow Foundation, an organization founded in 1982 with the goal of improving the quality of life for critically ill children, has long been an advocate of the use of virtual reality or computer games for pain management. The foundation's Management and Distraction Technology program uses distraction as a pain management technique and has been employed in hospitals nationwide for almost two decades. Participating doctors and hospitals give children kaleidoscopes, squeeze balls, hand-held video games, and so on, before and after treatment. This teaches children an important key to enduring pain: Don't focus on the painful stimuli. The squeeze ball or the video game gives them something else to focus on and think about. Video games, particularly those with virtual reality (VR) immersion via headsets or similar technology, are a recent extension of that program. The distraction is important before the treatment or procedure as well. Everyone is anxious before surgery and most other medical procedures. This is called anticipatory anxiety. Children seem to feel anticipatory anxiety more deeply than adults, to the extent that sometimes children need to be held down even for a simple injection with a hypodermic needle. The same distraction techniques can be used to alleviate anticipatory anxiety." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless


Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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