Videogames and Healthcare

Videogames are becoming an integral part of education, work and health. Companies are designing new ways to keep their employees motivated, and are providing similar options to students. Furthermore, non-adherence in healthcare is being targeted as an area that videogames, or gamification is particular, can improve upon.

A recent article from imedicalapps.com discusses LiteSprite, a company that developed an anti-anxiety application called SinaSprite. LiteSprite was the winner of the Games to Generate Data Challenge competition by Games for Health. The article covers an interview with Swatee Surve, the CEO and David Hazel, Technical Advisor.

Hopefully, the days of bland patient information and mind-numbingly dull educational videos will soon be behind us. Increasingly, people are recognizing games as a way to better engage patients for educational and therapeutic purposes. These include mainstream consumer titles like the Wii Fit to specialized applications like laparoscopic surgical simulations and physical rehabilitation. In the past decade, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — a philanthropy whose aim is to improve healthcare — has provided grants and guidance for Games for Health and related initiatives. Their most recent competition, the Games To Generate Data Challenge, targets population health.

Litesprite (@Litespritegames) one of the competition winners, created SinaSprite, a mobile game that targets 25- to 50-year-old women with anxiety & depression. Players’ progress can be monitored & rewarded by clinicians and caregivers. The game uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and grant funding has been submitted for future clinical trials (view their slide deck submission at RWJF).

iMedicalApps recently interviewed Swatee Surve MBA MSME, founder and CEO of Litesprite, along with David Hazel MS, Litesprite’s technical advisor and Managing Director of the Center for Web & Data Science at the University of Washington – Tacoma.

Most healthcare apps aren’t games, so there must have been a steep learning curve. What challenges did you encounter while designing your game?

Swatee Surve: I started with the philosophy that if you want someone to get engaged,… it has to come from emotional connectivity. So I took an entertainment-driven approach. And there were several challenges we encountered. Games now are highly-engineered experiences that are audience specific. And audiences have sophisticated expectations. I needed people who understood the core components of a game and how to make these sorts of engaging experiences. So the first skillset I brought on board were game designers and other subject matter experts like Wanda Gregory who teaches game design at the University of Washington. Because we were all volunteer, we spent 4 months solely focused on game design [to determine] the role of the character,… the story arcs…[Then] we added an illustrator [to add] initial design sketches. The next challenge was then how to bring that domain expertise into addressing a healthcare issue. That is where the game designers worked closely with clinicians during the game design process.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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