Games for Health


Health is an elementary foundation of prosperous human life. Average human life expectancy has never been as long as it is today and medical advances have greatly improved overall population health. However, modern societies are burdened by new complications in the form of lifestyle diseases which arise due to various aspects of modern life, such as sedentary behavior. The pressure on public health systems is ever increasing with the emergence of further complex and expensive treatment options, and due to the complications resulting from demographic change. The technological advancements of the industrial and information age, the computational revolution in general, and video games for entertainment specifically contribute to the prevalence of some prevalent lifestyle-related health issues. At the same time, computing devices and interactive applications also play an important role in improving all areas of individual and public health. Recent research and early commercial releases deliver convincing evidence that playful applications and games for health in particular offer approaches that can help overcome the motivational barriers which often restrain successful health treatments or preventive actions and behavior. This chapter provides an overview of the arguments that motivate the application of play and game techniques for personal and public health. It summarizes the basic promises and challenges of games for health research and development, provides starting points regarding their design and implementation, illustrates selected aspects along the lines of exemplary applications, and hints at pressing open challenges as well as promising avenues for further research and developments. A selection of quality references for further reading is included in the last section.

Entertainment Computing and Serious Games