Create fun and engaging experiences that improve health and lifestyle, this is the ambitious motto of ‘Games for Health‘, a Dutch project we’ll talk about in this article. Founded in 2010 by Jurriaan & Sandra van Rijswijk, this non-profit association has the task of bringing together the best minds in the development of toys and healthcare to design gaming technologies that improve people’s physical and mental conditions, as well as creating gamification for a new wellness.
The organization act on several fronts, first of all it plans an annual conference that brings together professionals working in the medical sector, shows innovations in the field and is committed to developing the healthcare 2.0, that promotes the personal wellbeing and happiness of the individual as well as his physical state. But the real strength of Game for Health is to ‘bring together doctors, academics, game developers and industry leaders by engaging them in a constructive discussion on the impact that gamification techniques can have in the near future.’
Games for Health Projects is the design branch and the creative engine of this organization. It is a multidisciplinary team that develops applied games not only for the medical sector but also for education and corporates. In this case, the term applied games is used to identify the strategic use of the principles and guidelines of toy design in different design areas, such as that of healthcare, public administration or transport. In the same way (and with the same purposes) we talk about gamification to indicate the use of more efficient solutions in economic and functional terms, as well as fun.
The success of this process is that by introducing the appearance of the game at some point in the user’s life, it produces a change in behavior. For example, rewarding someone after taking a specific action helps increase trust in a service as well as pushing him to be more involved in the system. But let’s move on to practical examples, and let’s take a quick look at three projects developed by Games for Health Project, all belonging to the category of the strategic gaming app, but each one in different areas, commissioned by different clients and aimed at specific targets.
Enterprise, for example, is a multiplayer online game to develop the entrepreneurial skills of the students of the ROC West Brabant, a business school in the south of the Netherlands. The request of this client was to immerse the students in a motivating and realistic situation in which they had to manage their own businesses. The game then develops in this direction, touching all the aspects and obstacles that an entrepreneur has to consider, from the initial budget to recruitment, from market research to competition with other student-entrepreneurs thanks to multiplayer.
A similar case study but carried in the medical field is Geriatrix. In this game the ultimate goal is to develop the decision-making process and the clinical thinking of the young doctors at the Radboudumc clinic. Practitioners must always deal with three figures (their director, supervisor and obviously the patient) and address their choices taking into account three key factors: medical effectiveness, the cost of each operation and the attractiveness of the practice for the patient.
The last project we want to analyze is Aviation Empire. Developed for the Dutch transport company KLM, this game allows anyone to take the role of the airline CEO. In this case, rather than the game modes, the process that led to the choice of this medium is interesting; In fact, KLM has always been at the forefront of digital development by first introducing, among other things, a 24 hour online customer service. The game is part of an ‘act not ads’ strategy and is aimed particularly at young, future travelers.
In conclusion, the work that Games for Health has been carrying out for years is perfectly aligned with the needs of the modern world. With this we do not mean only the development of the app, but above all the great ability to network, to involve partners and specific skills in the projects by integrating the expertise of each for a common result, satysfing for all the actors of the system, both in the form of a conference or product development.