Games for Health 2011: Play as Written

May 17, 2011, 1:12 AM, Posted by RWJF Blog Team

The 7th annual Pioneer-sponsored Games for Health Conference got underway this morning, with a preconference day that focuses on the intersection of mobile platforms/technologies, videogames and health. (For a real-world example of health videogame work being pursued with an eye towards mobility, check out a project that one of our Health Games Research grantees is working on called Lit2Quit). The main event starts tomorrow and will continue on until Thursday, with hundreds of thought leaders converging in Boston to discuss how to move the field forward.

Games for Health director Ben Sawyer kicked things off this morning, framing this year’s convening as an opportunity to form collaborations that will scale-up the amazing body of work that has been happening over the last several years.  And as more projects come to fruition and consumers begin to engage – and rely upon – technologies like games as tools to manage their day-to-day health, it’s important we start thinking of these technologies as legitimate medical interventions.

To that end, we’re supporting a "What's Your Game Prescription" thought activity where we will ask attendees to fill out game prescriptions that share their visions for how videogames could impact a certain health condition.  This is a chance for those in the health games field to envision a moment in the not so distant future, when some health professional writes you, or someone you care for, a prescription to play a videogame to improve a specific component of your health – be it management of a chronic disease or preventative in nature. It can be for games and functionality that exist now, or ideas yet to be developed.

 By thinking now about a future in which games are actively prescribed, we can be better prepared to identify the right paths, the best targets, and the work that’s needed to make game prescriptions a reality.

The “prescriptions” will be posted at the conference and we will be tweeting highlights of them throughout the week, in addition to posing questions to build on the conversation. You can follow along on Twitter (@pioneerrwjf) or the main conference hashtag #G4H11.  

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.