Games for Health: Exploring the Role Video and Computer Games Can Play in Improving Health and Health Care

Exploring the role of video and computer games as a medium for health and health care messaging

Field of Work: Exploring the role of video and computer games as a medium for health and health care messaging.

Problem Synopsis: Games hold the potential to promote health and health care by:

  • Reducing patients' pain and the burden of illness.
  • Strengthening health care providers' and leaders' knowledge and skills.
  • Informing the general public about maintaining and improving their health and supporting their efforts to engage in healthy behaviors.

But there was no established forum for people in the video and computer game industry and the health care industry to meet and discuss their needs and opportunities to collaborate.

Synopsis of the Work: From 2004 to 2007, Digitalmill led a project called Games for Health to bring together video and computer game developers and health care professionals to discover what role games could play in improving health and health care. In 2007, Digital Innovations Group held a briefing for foundations and other funders on video games, with a focus on the work of Games for Health.

Key Results: Project staff from Digitalmill reported the following results to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF):

  • From 2005 to 2007, game developers and representatives of the health care industry came together at two conferences (Games for Health 2005 and 2006) and two regional meetings (Games for Health Day in 2006 and 2007).
  • A 2007 Games for Health Competition encouraged game developers to develop health games that solved a health or health care problem. Digitalmill and HopeLab., an organization that sponsors research to improve the lives of young people with chronic illness, co-sponsored the competition.
  • A white paper entitled Games for Health: Current Achievements and Future Promise (2007).

Project staff at Digital Innovations Group reported the following result to RWJF.

  • Approximately 30 funders from a variety of foundations attended a briefing on video games, with a focus on the work of Games for Health, on June 26, 2006, in New York. RWJF, the MacArthur Foundation (Chicago) and the Surdna Foundation (New York) co-sponsored the briefing.