Games for Health Competition Results

Aug 22, 2007, 12:34 PM, Posted by Susan Promislo

This week, Games for Health and Pioneer announced the winners of the first-ever Games for Health competition. People submitted entries in three categories—congrats to the three winners:

In the Open Competition, open to U.S. residents over the age of 18:

  • Open Prototype: Neuromatrix, submitted by Morphonix of Sausalito, Calif.—$20,000.
    Neuromatrix is a game designed to teach adolescents ages 11-14 about the brain and sustain their interest over time. The game shows that the brain is not an abstract topic, and aims to inspire more students to enter the field of neuroscience. It takes players through a series of short movies and games where students participate in a brain exam and make decisions very much like a neurologist would encounter in a real-life setting. Neuromatrix was funded by research grants from the National Institute of Health's Small Business Innovation Program.
  • Open Storyboard: Food Finder, Erin Hoffman, Albany, N.Y.—$5,000.
    Food Finder is an action-packed game envisioned for the Nintendo DS system. It shows children ages 8-14 how to make healthy eating choices through an interactive quest to find nutritious food groups. A status bar is present during the entire game that monitors nutritional facts such as calcium, protein and vitamin C levels and effect on heart health, so children can see how different foods affect their bodies. As players work through the game, the healthier food choices become harder to find. Food Finder's objective is to engage young children in the gaming experience and to simultaneously combat childhood obesity through the content and design of the game.

In the Student Storyboard Competition, open to U.S. college students:

  • Bizarro Olympics, Team Fun, Indiana University—$5,000.
    Bizarro Olympics is an interactive video game concept designed for the Nintendo Wii™. This exergame, or video game requiring physical activity for game play, blends the traditional surreal gaming environment with an exercise theme. The game takes players through a series of futuristic Olympic-style events, while educating players about the important lifestyle choices that should be made to maintain good health—and win the game.

We had an outstanding panel of judges, including:

  • Bob Bates: Prominent game designer/producer and author of Game Design: The Art and Business of Creating Games, one of the industry’s bestselling books on game development.
  • Connie Dresser, RDPH, LN: Program director, National Cancer Institute's Multimedia Technology Health Communication SBIR/STTR Program.
  • Erin Edgerton, MA: Content lead for interactive and new media at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Marketing.
  • Noah Falstein: Leading game developer, “Design” column author for Game Developer magazine and president of The Inspiracy, a consulting firm specializing in game design and production assistance for entertainment and serious game titles.
  • Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS: Vice dean for academic affairs and professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
  • Claudia Johnston, RN, PhD: Associate vice president of special projects at Texas A&M University and manager of the Pulse!! Project, a $4.4 million interactive virtual environment simulating operational healthcare facilities, procedures and systems.
  • Eric Klopfer, PhD: Professor of science education and educational technology at MIT, leading researcher on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems.
  • Ann Maloney, MD: Maine Medical Center psychiatrist and researcher who is working with Maine public schools and the makers of a computer-driven dance game to integrate exercise into each child’s school day.
  • Philip Polgreen, MD: Infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa School of Medicine and co-principal investigator on an effort to use electronic prediction markets to forecast the human-to-human spread of avian flu.
  • Skip Rizzo, PhD: Director, Virtual Environments Lab, Integrated Media Systems Center, University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering.
  • CDR Russell Shilling, PhD: Aerospace experimental psychologist in the Navy Medical Service Corps; a leading authority on developing simulations using videogame engines and sound designer and principal investigator for the “America’s Army” video game.
  • Kurt Squire, PhD: Professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Educational Communications and Technology division of Curriculum and Instruction, and former research manager of MIT’s Games-to-Teach Project.
  • Dave Warhol: CEO of Realtime Associates, one of the longest-established independent game production studios in operation today and developer of HopeLab’s Re-Mission game to help kids fight cancer.
  • David Wertheimer: Executive director of the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center and former president of Paramount Pictures’ digital entertainment division.
Other entries proposed games on safe driving for teens, nutrition, exercise, teen smoking, heart disease, disabilities, health in developing countries and brain science. Entries included games and game concepts developed by individuals as well as projects supported by health and health care organizations, including the National Institutes of Health.

Games for Health plans to stage the contest annually, so stay tuned for future updates on the 2008 competition.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.