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SGS Feature: 'What We’re Facing At Games for Health'

The latest main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses, continues coverage of t
The latest main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses, continues coverage of the recent Games for Health conference in Baltimore. Specifically, the feature covers the event's “What We’re Facing” panel, which saw three medical experts share their perspectives on significant challenges currently facing the medical community, as well as how games might help address them. In this excerpt, writer Erin Hoffman covers what was said during the panel by Erin Edgerton from the Center for Disease Control. Edgerton works directly with the National Center for Health Marketing and was quoted during the conference as stating that there exists “a lot of excitement about games and using this technology”: “Edgerton’s primary focus was one that would come up many times during the Games for Health conference: using games as a tool for patient behavior modification. When thinking specifically about challenges in the health community, she asked developers to consider “not what changes can games meet, but what are the most effective use that games can have in this,” and “When are games the most efficient and appropriate medium to communicate health messages?” She went on to ask what it was that makes games unique and superior to other media in addressing health concerns. She noted that games have a unique dedication among their target audiences, and that dedicated gamers spend more time on one game than they would on radio, a TV channel, or a magazine. The length of time spent on a game “opens the door to communicate more effectively”, and a game’s interactive nature provides an active engagement level that is unique among other media, providing the opportunity to learn from virtual experience. Edgerton cited modeling and role playing game mechanics as excellent for communicating health care messages. Edgerton anecdotally noted that it would be very interesting to see a game such as Grand Theft Auto imprinted with actual health consequences. “What if you were going to make a decision to take drugs,” she asked, “and if you did, experienced a consequence? What if you needed to go back every three minutes for a fix, needed money [to obtain the drugs], and faced health consequences from them? What about when you’re pressured? How should you react?” This fictional scenario presented a compelling illustration that was nearly a game concept in and of itself.” You can now read the full Serious Games Source feature on the subject, including more from Edgerton and others on how serious games can help in the medical field (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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