Cross-section of researchers, professionals, and game developers will explore video game-based innovation in health and healthcare
With the video game industry booming and developing new technologies every day, a unique two-day conference called Games for Health will bring together healthcare professionals, game developers, academic researchers, and consultants to explore how video games and game developers are driving new strategies in healthcare. The conference will be held Sept. 22-23 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in downtown Baltimore in partnership with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
“Maryland is the ideal place to host the Games for Health Conference, as we have an exceptional confluence of game developers, making Maryland an East Coast hub of this growing industry,” said Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. “We look forward to hosting this innovative conference and hope that by bringing together so many talented individuals in this industry, it will open the door for significant breakthroughs in healthcare.”
The same technology that powers games for entertainment is increasingly finding applications for military and training simulations, medical and academic use. Maryland has identified more than 75 companies that develop and implement interactive and simulation technologies for not only entertainment applications, but what have now been termed “serious games.” Companies such as BreakAway Ltd. in Hunt Valley and Immersion Medical in Gaithersburg partner with medical institutions such as the University of Maryland School of Medicine to provide innovative software and hardware solutions for disease management, nursing and medical training, and health education.
“Game developers have the skills to create programs that will help patients learn about diseases and disease management,” says Bruce Jarrell, M.D., vice dean of academic administration at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “There’s real promise in the video game industry to bring needed healthcare information to patients in a familiar and exciting format,” he adds.
"At last year’s conference, we showed the world that there is exciting work being done to apply the motivational, educational, and graphical power of video games to improving public health,” says Ben Sawyer, co-director of the Games for Health Project. “Some of the next-generation projects will be exciting in terms of their potential to help people live healthy lives and assist professionals in the practice of healthcare."
According to Sawyer, the video game industry is moving beyond entertainment to address a wide range of public and private policy, leadership, and management issues. As a result, the self-titled “serious games” field is exploding with work. Within this overall genre of games lies a specific set of projects focusing on health and healthcare.
The Games for Health Project, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is designed to foster the development of health-focused, video game-related projects. By developing and promoting best practices, bringing together novel communities of interest, and supporting innovation in healthcare training, health messaging, and disease management, the project is nurturing this dynamic field.
This year’s Games for Health conference will feature case studies, a demonstration expo, research, lectures, panels, and discussions covering a wide range of topics and projects. Highlights include:
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