The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded over $2 million in grants in its first round of grants awarded through its Health Games Research. The grants will be distributed among 12 teams across the country researching the development and use of video games to improve players’ health behaviors and outcomes.
Based in the University of California, Santa Barbara, Health Games Research is funded by an $8.25 million grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, which supports projects that may lead to breakthrough improvements in the future of health and health care.
Funded studies include motion-based games used to help stroke patients recover faster in physical therapy to virtual worlds that allow those in substance abuse treatment to practice skills and behaviors to prevent real-world relapses.
112 research proposals were submitted by universities, medical centers, and game industry organizations across the country. Health Games Research will issue its next call for proposals in January 2009, again awarding up to an additional $2 million in grants in its second round of funding.
Said Health Games Research program head Debra Lieberman, Ph.D: “Health Games Research gives us a tremendous opportunity to advance the field. Previous studies and clinical trials have shown that well-designed interactive games can significantly improve players' health-related knowledge, skills, behaviors and outcomes. The 12 new studies will give us deeper insights into how and why certain game designs are compelling, fun and effective, and for which types of people. This work will yield a broad spectrum of validated game design principles that game designers will be able to use to enhance the effectiveness of future health games and game technologies.”