Games for Health Conference 2014

Games for Health Conference 2014 is coming June 18-20 in Boston.

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

Our Schedule is now up on Sched.org

Conference details

Some speaking spots are still open if you submit now!

We’re making a number of changes to this year’s program and will be opening registration shortly.

Key changes:

* Exhibits vs. case studies : As the games for health field moves more toward seeing more finished, deployable projects and entrepreneurial activity we’re creating a larger exhibit space and encouraging talks that were previously case studies and demos of games to be available in hands-on demos in our exhibits area.  This will foster more face-time with attendees, and provide a platform for projects and companies to move beyond a small 20 minute demo of their efforts.

* More tutorials & briefings : We’re adding more tutorial sessions on design, production, and emerging fields.  We’ve got some interesting surprises here to announce later in March but there will be opportunities to try new tools for building and prototyping exercise and nutrition games, and a set of standard briefings on the field, market, and funding opportunities in games for health.

* Additional conversational roundtables : Games for Health Conference has always been a great forum for networking and discussion, but we’re shifting more of our sessions to support the peer-to-peer conversations needed to foster increased collaborations and community building.

* Sunsetting : In our re-design we’ve decided to sunset our specific days on accessibility and medical modeling & simulation.  We plan to move LudicaMedica to a new event later in 2014, and we’ll feature the best content on learning and training with games in our main program.  Accessibility elements will also move to our roundtable sessions, and we’re looking at new ways to continue to support the needs, and cause of games accessibility.

* Games for Global Health : We’re planning our second year with a specific day on games for global health.  We want to continue to explore the opportunities for games for health to build on the explosive growth of mobile platforms in emerging markets.

* Out & About: Mobile Serious Games Day : This event will also return, but we’re looking to merge it with previous efforts exploring sensor games, to devote more time to the unique platforms, and opportunities being created by the growing wearable computing field.

Sessions for Games for Health 2013

Many more sessions are coming, but here is the first draft of content we’re going to have at this year’s Games for Health Conference including our first announced keynote!

Stay tuned for more announcements and additional information over the next two weeks as we finalize all three days of Games for Health 2013.

First Announced Keynotes!

Healing and Health with Virtual Reality
Palmer Luckey, Founder Oculus VR

For years, developers have strived to make immersive virtual worlds, and gamers have spent countless billions on the systems that play them best. Software, hardware, and input devices have all leapt forward, but the connection between the player and the virtual world has remained limited.

We’ve dreamed of stepping inside of our games, but the best we’ve been able to do is puppet characters through a tiny window! Until now. Technological progress in a variety of fields has finally brought immersive virtual reality within reach.

During this keynote, Oculus VR founder, and designer of the Oculus Rift VR headset, Palmer Luckey will talk about the intersection of body, mind, and virtual reality, and offer insights into how this new game technology can make a positive impact on the health of people and communities.

How a Mobile Game (and Zombies!)
Got 500,000 People Running for Their Lives!


Six to Start and author Naomi Alderman combine the emotional power of world-class storytelling with next-generation media to make unforgettable games and experiences.

Arguably the best mobile exergame to date, Zombies, Run! has sold over 400,000 copies and has seen fans of the game from around the world use it as a key part of their outdoor and indoor exercise routine.

This Keynote presentation by members of Six to Start’s Zombies, Run! team will delve into the inside story of the game’s development. From its successful Kickstarter debut to its current bestselling status on leading mobile platforms, you’ll get it all – with zombies included.

Over 40 additional sessions are also now posted online including…

Games for Autism: Therapy and Diagnosis

This session combines two talks orientated around opportunities with games for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Talk 1: Access Granted: Exploring Video Games as a Therapeutic Tool for Children with Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting approximately 1 in 88 individuals in the United States. General characteristics of ASD include deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. Regardless of ASD symptoms, research indicates that individuals with this disorder prefer to engage with activities they find interesting and motivating.

During this talk research and findings will be presented developed by exploring both how and why individuals with ASD choose and interact with technology, especially popular media such as video games and the perceptions of their parents about games and related technologies. Attendees to this session will gain insight on how, and why games might be effective for children with Autism and the best paths to successfully addressing Autism populations with games.

Talk 2: Assessing Play: Using Games To Diagnose Autism

This talk looks at how a game-based solution of interactive social challenges can help to possibly replace or augment existing clinical methods for childhood diagnosis of Autism with a game-based solution.

The psychological and psychiatric clinicians have been the driving force behind our game because they are frustrated by the lack of ecological validity in the most widely used interview-based methodologies. Time and again, parents doubt that the answers children provided when presented with oral descriptions of social situations are accurately representative of what they have seen those children do in similar situations in real life.

This presentation will showcase a system that weaves assessment into a game environment and will include discussions of how it was tailored to different environments and for addressing social information processing issues like those faced by children on the Autism spectrum. Also included will describe preliminary clinical results gathered in early 2013 as this game is shared with both ASD and Typically Developing Children.

Games for a New Climate: An International Collaboration in Research and Design

Is play an effective vehicle for preparing for climate change? Can games be part of long-term strategies for better organizing volunteer-driven organizations? Do academic-driven research methods lead to field-ready tools? Over the last four years, Parsons The New School for Design’s PETLab has collaborated with the American Red Cross and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre to explore these and other questions.

Games for a New Climate has produced games with ambitious goals: prepare communities at risk due to changes in the local climate; assist the Red Cross staff in training its volunteers; and help individuals and communities better forecast and plan for potential problems, including the implications of climate change on public health. John Sharp, PETLab’s co-director, will discuss the games the project has produced, the methodologies used for developing the games, and the successes and shortcomings of the project thus far.

New ideas for Pervasive Exergaming

Exergaming is a stalwart genre in commercial game circles now. Extensions into schools have become regular forays of companies often as adjuncts to P.E. class curriculums. Despite all the activity there remains a large gap between the capabilities and sales of exergames as a commercial category and their scaled and applicable uses in organizations such as schools, and even enterprises.

This session gathers two projects and a leading researcher together to explore new concepts in exergaming. Pervasive exergaming imagines a world where the distance between any one user and a beneficial exergaming experience is reduced to 0. There is no major equipment to be secured. Experiences are tied together across modalities and locations and the gamut of activities and presentations moves beyond just a fitness oriented dipiction.

Attendees to this session will get an overview of where exergaming stands today and what sorts of new trends may be signaling innovation and opportunities to reduce the barriers to exergaming reaching its potential. This review will then give way to presentations by two projects that are looking to break exergaming into new forms and platforms.

HealthTeacher is using purposely simple game concepts delivered over the Web to classrooms to create easily deployable movement games into schools that can be played outside distinct periods of P.E.

Fitness Interactive eXperience is creating a browser based experience that acts as a delivery platform of exergame experiences to end users across multiple population types to become a system that could stitch together many distinct forms of exergaming together.

What We’ve Learned From Casual Games and Where We’re Going With Defense Games

Featuring six years of data collection from ongoing studies on the effects of casual video games on depression, anxiety and cognition, this presentation provides an overview of research at East Carolina University’s Psychophysiology Lab that has been compiling evidence of the positive effects of casual video games on health.

Emphasis will be placed upon the usefulness of casual video games in ameliorating symptoms of physical and mental conditions as well as in improving overall cognitive function/performance. Data from several recently completed studies using physiological and biochemical markers will be presented.

The session will also discuss a new Department of Defense funded projects involving naturalistic games for assessment, intervention and evaluation using mobile platforms.

Attendees will learn about current neurological theories and research findings on the positive effects on stress, mood and cognition, hear a discussion about the practical applications for video games with positive health effects, and discuss the use of naturalistic games for assessment industry.

Virulent & Progenator X : Using Games to Explore the Science of Biology & Health

The University of Wisconsin’s Games, Learning, and Society Lab (GLS) has created and distributed several games that focus on explaining key biological concepts to the public-at-large. This session features demonstrations of those projects, how they came to be, and what was learned by creating and releasing them.

Two Board Games for Health : Monster Appetite & Aligning Forces 4 Quality

Increasingly we are seeing game designers move back and forth between paper and electronic forms and cross-pollinating ideas between the two modalities. While Games for Health focuses heavily on computer-game based projects this session looks at two recently developed board games designed to address issues in health & healthcare.

Monster Appetite addresses the obesity epidemic, one of America’s largest public health challenges, now growing in the rest of the world.

In light of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic, Monster Appetite (MA) is a
game that potentially remediates some aspects of the concern by promoting awareness of the content of food typically consumed by children.

The Aligning Forces For Quality game is a new game project focusing on how to help groups seeking to improve healthcare quality across many regions of the country. The project is a collaboration between Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab, Digitalmill, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundations Aligning Forces for Quality National Program.

In each case presenters will discuss the design work involved in each game and how it is being rolled out to their target communities. Discussion about how the ideas might translate into computerized forms and whether such ideas provide useful advantages (or not) will also take place.

Frontline Implementation with Clinicians: Lessons from Zamzee

Zamzee is a research-proven Health Game that increases tweens’ physical activity. A six-month randomized clinical trial in 2012 by HopeLab Foundation showed that tweens using Zamzee were 59% more physically active then a control group.

Today pediatricians across the country use Zamzee Programs in primary care practices and weight management clinics to measure and motivate tween physical activity.

Learn how Zamzee developed programs to partner with healthcare providers and tackle the challenges of patient attrition, limited funding, over-scheduled doctors and sedentary behavior.

Finding a Revenue Stream in the Physical Therapy Gaming Business: Third Time’s a Charm

Physical therapy and related sensorimotor rehab games are often held up as one of the no-brainer business opportunities in the Games for Health field. Current rehabilitation protocols are often seen as repetitive and lacking in feedback or visual stimulation, resulting in low patient compliance. The drive to augment these activities through new technologies such as the Microsoft Kinect™, Sony Move, or Nintendo® Wii™ is clear to anyone who has looked at the many pilot projects built over the last several years.

Why then is there not a thriving commercial market for such games?

CSMi has been involved in the Physical Therapy and Athletic Training markets for many years and has recently begun building specific game-based product offerings. During this talk we’ll move beyond the topic of building better games and discuss developing sustainable business models for game-based therapy products.

The Sensorimotor Rehab and PT game market offers important lessons for developers looking at many different types of health & business opportunities with games. Come hear how one company has taken several runs and evolved its approach to turning game-based health interventions into new opportunities for patients, providers, and makers alike.

Designing Games for Chronic Disease Management : What we’ve learned

Helping a patient with chronic disease issues is one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare today. Roughly 50% of patients are failing to properly manage their health care, and lifestyle compliance hovers below 30%. Where are the magic levers of adherence and self efficacy that can drive change of often daily activities? Finding these levers is necessary if we are to reverse skyrocketing healthcare costs related to chronic disease.

Ayogo has learned that the psychology of games and play can be employed specifically to address the challenge of chronic disease management. To date they’ve prototyped or developed eleven games and applications that support patients with chronic disease.

This talk is designed to share the do’s and don’ts compiled while designing projects for leading health, pharma, and patient-related organizations. Drawing from the progression of Ayogo efforts like Healthseeker, attendees will gain the insight that often can’t be shared until you’ve been through the trials, errors, fires, and successes of multiple projects.

Revisioning Re-Mission

In 2013 HopeLab is releasing Re-Mission 2, the follow-up to the groundbreaking 2006 video game for young people fighting cancer. Learn how brain science, an unconventional development model and candid feedback from young cancer patients led to this next-generation health game.

Playforward: A Post-Mortem Panel of Designers, Developers & Researchers

PlayForward: Elm City Stories is an iPad-based game designed to help youth at-risk for HIV and STD infections.  The game was produced over the course of a 18 month period and is now completed and in the course of a randomize clinical trial with after-school youth in New Haven, CT.

The game is designed to integrate risk reduction skills with social learning narratives with the hope that the acqusition of skills, practicing of behaviors, and exposure to important narratives can help youth better negotiate risky situations related to early sexual activity.  Such risks can include early drug and alcohol use, poor STD knowledge and preparedness, blind risk taking, and more.

PlayForward’s design process was extremely rigorous and involved multiple designers, developers, and researchers working together as a team to produce a game that has over 1000 individual pieces of content organized across four mini-game sections, a large-scale narrative structure, and an aspirational avatar model designed to improve self-esteem and longitudinal life orientation.

During this session members of the PlayForward design, research, and development team will gather for a frank and open discussion of the game’s development, covering the beginning, middle, and completion focusing on both the high-points, low-points, and still active wishlists that all games have when completed.

During the post-mortem conversation hundreds of slides will cycle behind the team providing a glimpse into some of the game’s early artwork tests, content trials, and even some of the best emails, and memo highlights that will be taken from an trove of over 1000+ pages of content the team is currently cataloguing for future archiving.

Attendees will see a major game for health effort laid bare, learn tips and tricks that only get learned from the crucible of actual development.  You will have a chance to get a sense of the creativity and sacrifices needed to build a health behavior game from scratch that comprises over 12 hours of gameplay built on a tight budget.

“Pocket Ritual” – Developing A Phone App For Self-Exploration Based On The Hero’s Journey

“Self-directed play can get us in touch with our inner truth. If we follow our internal play-compass, it points the way to an authentic life, or what Joseph Campbell calls “bliss”. Free play, however, does not come easily to adults. If one is out-of-touch with oneself, one does not know where to start. In games, play is guided by rules. But usually games are about a specific, pre-defined idea.

This presentation focuses on the design of “Pocket Ritual”, a windows phone app for self-exploration, which addresses this issue. “Pocket Ritual” is a ludic framework that leverages the potential of free play for self-discovery, while providing a structure to guide it. At its center are 12 card categories, corresponding to the 12 steps of the hero’s journey. Each morning, the app randomly suggests cards within these 12 categories for players to build a hand and play throughout the day. Cards contain evocative questions for contemplation that refer to a stage on the journey. E.g. a card that belongs to the “mentor” stage might ask about supportive / admirable qualities in people (dead or alive) that you would like to be your mentors. Players can decide to accept or skip cards. Playing a card is accompanied by uploading a picture and adjective that represent the player’s emotional associations with the card. This process constructs the “Journey Landscape”. Each card category has a corresponding landscape tile (e.g. “ordinary world”; “threshold”; “inmost cave”). Playing cards transforms their associated landscape tiles, creating unique journeys that further invite reflection: if the pictures and adjectives associated with the “Threshold” are fearful or hesitant, this will be reflected in the audio-visual representation of the “Threshold” part of the journey.

The goal of this presentation on “Pocket Ritual” is to provide a further example of, and invite a dialogue about how games and ludic applications can promote emotional health and personal development, as well as to inspire more design work in that direction. The talk will give concrete examples of how research on play, creative recovery, authentic living and positive psychology informed the design, and reflect on the issues revolving around structured vs. free play to leverage play’s potential for personal growth.

[Read more…]

A Spark for Games to Stop Teen Dating Violence

 

Jennifer Ann's Group

Jennifer Ann’s Group

Earlier this year it was announced that for work done by Games for Health Project co-founder, Ben Sawyer, in serious games and games for health that he will be a SxSW Dewey Award Winner. The award is given to 10 people each year by SxSW Interactive as a memory to one of the original organizers of the event, Dewey Winburne. It is used to honor people who have used technology to try and improve the lives of others.

As part of the award which he will receive on Sunday March 10 in Austin SxSW is donating $1000.00 to the charity of his choice. The decision is to donate the funds to Jennifer Ann’s Group.

Jennifer Ann’s Group holds contests to inspire people to build games to help raise awareness and combat teenage dating violence. It is a one man show at Jennifer Ann’s Group. Jennifer’s amazing father is Drew Crecente, better known in some gaming circles as the brother of well-known game journalist Brian Crecente who was editor of Kotaku and is now at Polygon. Through the Crecente’s love of vidoegames came the inspiration to use that media form and other advocacy to create a living memorial to Jennifer Ann Crecente.

In less then three years the challenge has generated 2 dozen+ games built and some have made it into app stores, and been posted online to play.

This year Jennifer Ann’s Group is launching the contest again and our goal was to use this award from SxSW to give it and the organization a boost.

We decided to use the original $1,000 award a spark, a starting off point to help raise money to sponsor the prize this year and help with operations. As such, Games for Health Project is going to match the donation. We also reached out to some of our friends and we’re happy to report that in the last 24 hours we raised an additional $3,000 in matches from Schell Games, Mary-Ann Liebert Publishing, and Child’s Play Charity.

As of this morning we’re proud to say that $5,000 is going to Jennifer Ann’s Group to support the 2013 contest!

Now here’s where you come in…

Today, February 15, 2013 is the 7th anniversary of Jennifer Ann’s death. February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Today, as we announce this effort, we’re calling on all who follow us, who attend our events, who just care about the idea of games for health to help take this to the next level. Help Jennifer Ann’s Group and Drew Crecente prevent teen dating violence with any one or more of these three actions:

1. Build a game and enter the contest for 2013
2. Spread the word about this year’s contest. Entries can be submitted by anyone around the world 13 or older.
3. Consider making a donation to help up the prize amount and support operations. If you do let us know and we’ll track all the extra donations and report them here.

Games for Health was originally started with a few thousand dollars of funds that remained from one of the earliest serious games grants made. Today we are presenting a similar amount to Jennifer Ann’s Group sparked by an award recognizing that early work. It’s people like Drew Crecente, and innovators found in contests like this that inspire us every day.