Gamification vs Serious Games for Health Application
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Gamification vs Serious Games for Health Application

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Over the last few years during my time as the Director of the Serious Games Institute and now as a freelance consultant I have been and still am involved in the use of Serious Games for Health ...

Over the last few years during my time as the Director of the Serious Games Institute and now as a freelance consultant I have been and still am involved in the use of Serious Games for Health Applications in important areas such as Ageing Society, Staff Training, Health Education and Behaviours and Awareness. More recently, I have shifted my focus away from formal serious games to the process of Gamification and this short article seeks to explain my experiences and my belief that it will be Gamification which has the most significant impact on public health issues in the future.

Serious Games are applications which are designed by specialists for use by the target population. They require multi-disciplinary specialist teams who not only understand the subject matter but can also create a game experience which engages people and is effective in delivering the intended outcomes. In general, serious games are developed by people not affected by a health issue to be use used by people with a need related to the health issue. They usually are difficult to personalise to the individual and the cost of development of a serious game can be quite high. As time goes by, developments in technology can limit the attractiveness and/or effectiveness of the games.

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Gamification vs Serious Games for Health Application Gamification vs Serious Games for Health Application Document Transcript

  • Gamification vs Serious Games for Health Gamification or Serious Game? Over the last few years during my time as the Director of the Serious Games Institute and now as a freelance consultant I have been and still am involved in the use of Serious Games for Health Applications in important areas such as Ageing Society, Staff Training, Health Education and Behaviours and Awareness. More recently, I have shifted my focus away from formal serious games to the process of Gamification and this short article seeks to explain my experiences and my belief that it will be Gamification which has the most significant impact on public health issues in the future. Serious Games are applications which are designed by specialists for use by the target population. They require multi-disciplinary specialist teams who not only understand the subject matter but can also create a game experience which engages people and is effective in delivering the intended outcomes. In general, serious games are developed by people not affected by a health issue to be use used by people with a need related to the health issue. They usually are difficult to personalise to the individual and the cost of development of a serious game can be quite high. As time goes by, developments in technology can limit the attractiveness and/or effectiveness of the games.
  • My Withings Weight Loss Graph Gamification on the other hand is a strategy designed to achieve outcomes. It does not depend on the development of a technology based formal game but can be facilitated by enabling technologies. This is the background to my personal Gamification project started in June 2013. My aim was to establish whether I could successfully gamify my own health and the results have been unexpectedly spectacular. My motivation for gamifying my health came about through a combination of events and situations. I was obese (but happy and healthy), friends told me I was fat, I learnt through DNA analysis that I had a high risk of Diabetes 2 and I happened to see an article about the Jawbone UP bracelet that monitors physical activity and sleep. My Gamification process began by analysing the balance between my daily calorie consumption and calorie burning on the free iPad application that comes with the bracelet. I have to record what food I eat and I can visualise in graphical form relevant daily, weekly and monthly patterns. Through a process of trial and error and based on meeting a daily target of 10,000 steps, I quickly realised that eating the right foods was far more effective than large amounts of exercise. As a consequence, I was able to lose 21Kg in 3 months and my health and wellbeing not only improved considerably but I now have a lifestyle which maintains good health and technology applications that continue to improve my situation.
  • My conclusion is therefore that in the area of personal health, Gamification and Enabling Technologies can be considerably more cost effective than Serious Games in the right context and bring about an important change in acceptance of responsibility for personal health management. David Wortley FRSA CEO and Founder GAITSS david@gaitss.net