Games in Healthcare

Health News: Games to Fight Epidemics and New DS Health Timer

The Health Control Game TimerA couple of interesting headlines regarding health gaming have caught our attention recently at Game Forward. With all the news surrounding the H1N1 virus, otherwise known as Swine Flu, an online flash game has been re-released under the evocative name Stop Swine Flu.

The premise of the game, however, is quite the opposite. Its goal is actually to infect as many people as you can by sneezing on them and having them in turn spread the virus. The game does present information on germs and the spread of airborne illnesses. Initially released as Sneeze, the game was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust. Read More...

Similarly, a new Facebook game was released to underline World Malaria Day on April 25, 2009, titled Mosquito SPLAT. The game has players using a fly squatter to SPLAT mosquitoes before the baby gets malaria. For each mosquito you SPLAT, you score 10 points and for every 100 points scored, advertisers will make a donation to support malaria research projects at the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania.

Still on the subject of epidemics, we learned that researchers are using World of Warcraft’s infamous 2005 “Corrupted Blood” plague, which infected more than four million of the game's six million players worldwide and “killed” millions, to better study pandemic trends. The virus which was originally designed to create a greater challenge to high level players ended up spreading across the board, after many players underestimated the threat of the infection and ignored quarantines.

"That's one of the big question marks in epidemiological research: how do you predict human behaviour?" asks Nina Fefferman, assistant professor at the Center for Discreet Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and co-author of a study on the WoW plague. "We don't expect people to behave the same way in a virtual world, but it's closer than asking them hypothetical questions."

In other news, Datel Japan introduced in April a new device meant to limit how long you play your Nintendo DS. Aptly named the Health Control Game Timer, the device slides in the GBA slot of the DS. Its indicator light will flash after 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes, letting you know you should take a breather. It can be purchased online here for approximately $40 USD.