Serious Games

Games for Health 2009 Preview

Games for Health SloganThe fifth edition of Games for Health conference will be taking place June 11-12, 2009 in Boston, MA. The annual gathering will bring together researchers, medical professionals and game developers to discuss the impact technology can have on health care and policy.

Participants will share their experience and research on exergaming and active games, physical therapy, cognitive health, training games as well as disease management technology.

The sold out conference features over 50 speakers, including two keynote presentations: Shyang Kong of EA Sports will discuss the virtual fitness revolution and the recent launch of EA Sports Active; and, Steven Brown of 3Banana will speak about the “games for health ecosystem” based on new technology and portable media advancements. Read More...

The event features two special themed rooms labeled the Exergaming & Active Gaming Track and the Cognitive Health Track. Participants will be able to remain in one of these rooms during the span of the conference to focus on presentations directly linked to those themes.

Sessions will touch a variety of subjects including the use of games for motor rehabilitation and psychological treatment like attention deficit disorders and schizophrenia, in child development and for managing diseases like multiple sclerosis or diabetes. Speakers will also touch on the effect of games on visual skills and game-related injuries.

Seminars will look at the use of video games like Guitar Hero in prosthetic-limb development, as well as virtual-reality games for medical and dental surgery training. The Nintendo Wii will be featured a few times for its use in assisting Parkinson’s patients, burn victims as well as seniors along with a study on the fitness brand Wii Fit.

Get Well Gamers will be speaking about the introduction of games in hospitals; Benjamin Heckendorn will be discussing the many possibilities of hardware modding; Humana Games for Health will have a talk on the health insurance business and its involvement in video games; while Child’s Play will focus on microgrants and support for games and health. The use of video games in health information technology as well as a teaching tool for health care management, policy making and emergency preparedness will also be featured.

On June 10 and preceding the official start of the conference will be a special themed day with presentations on two subjects. The Game Accessibility Day is a forum about making all games accessible to people with physical or cognitive disabilities and will feature talks, networking opportunities and demonstrations.

Also on June 10, the Virtual Worlds and Health Day will focus on the use of virtual worlds as new synthetic spaces for training, practice and visualization. The special workshop will also feature a keynote presentation by Nina Fefferman, Assistant Professor at the Departments of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, and at the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science at Rutgers University. She will be presenting a study on the infamous plague set loose in World of Warcraft, which epidemiologists are using to better understand how such diseases can spread in the real world. 

Games for Health is a project produced by The Serious Games Initiative, a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars endeavour that applies innovative game technology to a range of public and private policy, leadership and management issues. It was developed to build a community and to share best practices between health care application makers and users.

The conference is presented by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy which focuses on the pressing health care issues facing America. Games for Health is notably sponsored by Humana Games for Health, the International Game Developers Association, Virtual Heroes, BreakAway Ltd. and SharpBrains.