The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a Princeton-based philanthropic organization devoted to health care, has awarded the Games for Health Project a two-year grant to fund applications of the committee’s work. The project is a product of the Serious Games Initiative, a joint effort between Digitalmill Inc. and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The funding from the grant will go toward furthering the Games for Health Project’s aim of research into how games can be used in both the education and application of personal health care.
Ben Sawyer, president of Digitalmill, which will run day-to-day activities and planning for Games for Health, commented: "We have exercise games, games that help with phobia treatment, games used for treating pain related to cancer or burns, and games used to train health care workers in important new procedures. We're not starting at zero. We've already showcased more than a dozen projects, including commercial products that prove there is a potentially pervasive role for games and gamelike software in health care."
Examples of games which currently exhibit solutions to health problems include Dance Dance Revolution
, for its active play and Diet mode; Yourself! Fitness
, essentially a video game enhancement of conventional exercise tapes; and games such as Code Orange
and Cardiac Arrest
that simulate onscreen emergency medical situations for the benefit of the player.
Specific use for the new funding will be an extension of the project’s Games for Health Conference into 2005 and 2006. The first such conference, held in 2004, drew over 120 participants and speakers, a number the project hopes to increase in the coming years. Details on the 2005 Games for Health Conference will be revealed in March.