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SGS Feature: 'Games For Health 2006: Addressing PTSD, Psychotherapy & Stroke Rehabilitation with Games & Game Technologies'

Today's main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training,...
Today's main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses, we present another write-up from the Games For Health 2006 conference. In this Games For Health session, USC's Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo presented an interesting study on psychotherapy and stroke rehabilitation using video games and related technologies, such as virtual reality. His approach focussed on three strategies - which he summed up as Expose, Distract, and Motivate. Here, the first approach - Expose - is described by explaining the Virtual Iraq simulator developed to be controlled by physicians for Iraq war veterans, and to show gradual exposure to trauma in a manageable way: "...they needed some way to control the intensity and content from outside the game environment, which was provided by creating what they called a “Wizard of Oz” clinician's interface, which according to the project's website “enables the clinician to control the virtual environment in real time to modulate the patient's anxiety level as is required for therapeutic gain”.... The simulation included city streets, desert highways, city scenes, small rural villages, building interiors, convoys, checkpoints, and a desert base. It also included controllable time of day, situations in which the patient is alone or when they are in groups, driving a Humvee in various views, or from a helicopter interior. The simulations went beyond the normal Xbox experience, providing 3D sound, vibration and even scents (such as gunpowder, cordite, body odor, garbage, burning rubber, diesel fuel and Iraqi spices) to further simulate the reality... As part of the development of the clinician's interface, they also identified a long list of possible situations that could cause trauma, including being attacked or ambushed, being responsible for the death of an enemy (combatant or non-combatant), seeing dead bodies or human remains, handling dead bodies, seeing dead or seriously injured Americans, etc. Each of the identified scenarios could be recreated in appropriate levels of detail." You can now read the full Serious Games Source feature on the subject, including information on the Virtual Iraq simulator made with Full Spectrum Warrior (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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