Lessons Learned from 5 projects on Games for Health
Games for Health 2012, Amsterdam, 5-6th November
Damian Brown and Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen (PhD, Psychologist)
CEO, founder Serious Games Interactive
My Background
• MA Psychology
• PhD Games & learning
• Between industry & research
• Founder of Serious Games Int.
• Cofounder DIGRA
• Cofounder of Game Centre
Developing games
• Three series for education
• +80 client projects
Who are we...
• Research-based company
• Using games for more than entertainment
• Won several awards for our productions
• First company starting with Unity3
Current research projects
• Gala – Network of Excellence for Serious Games
• SIREN – Conflict resolution for children & Adults
• VISTRA – virtual game-driven assembly line training
• ETREES – Advanced narrative work-place training
• C2Learn – Creative learning environment through games
9 Nationalities | 24 Employees | +80 Projects | 20 Products
What is this talk about?
Methodology & games studied
Quick overview key results
Recommendations and conclusions
That we, as researchers, game producers and end users,
reflect on the processes we go through when developing
health-based serious games, and ensure that every aspect
of that process drives towards reducing barriers
to uptake
(otherwise, how will we create any impact, and how
will we make any money?)
What is this talk about?
Methodology & games studied
Quick overview key results
Recommendations and conclusions
• Project post-mortem evaluation with 5 key
project stake holders(new perspective)
• Qualitative analysis of the marketplace
• End user and service provider interviews
– Reflections on design process of the relevant SG
– Views on current SG-H market condition
– Expectations for the future
– 11 questions in all
Interview Content
What is your view of the state of the market for health-focused serious games?
Are there any particular challenges for health-based serious games as a result of
the Danish healthcare system?
What pre-requisites would need to be in place for you to start another serious
game project?
How important is evidence of efficacy?
How were end users involved in the development of your serious game project?
How do development teams need to evolve to improve production processes in
Did you experience any particular positive or negative experiences during the
serious game design and production?
What usage patterns have you observed since your serious game has been
Do you have any reflections regarding the project implementation?
Do you plan to start any new initiatives in the area of serious games for health?
Which areas do you believe are the most relevant for health-based serious gaming
over the next 12-24 month?
Brain Lounge
• Client project, rehab. of elderly
persons in Bispebjerg region
• Range of games for cognitive training
& development
• Maintain and improve mental health,
functioning and wellbeing
• Enjoyable and accessible for nongame playing user group
• Engage different areas of the brain
(memory, problem solving, speed,
flexibility, attention)
• Successfully working in real praxis.
Change mgmt. more important that
the game development.
Sex og Samfund (Sex and Society)
• Sexual health information: 2 games
• ”Me and my body”: ks 2-3, onset of
teenage years and changes to body
• ”Kroppelop”: ks 1-2, introductory level
sexual health information
• Mixed modality, mediated learning
• Highlights role of teachers for younger
• Very succesful with teachers and
students to learn about sensitive
StressMester (StressMaster)
• Client project (Knowledge Center for
Work Environment)
• Dilemma RPG for public employee to
frame stress positively (CATS)
• Browser-based, singleplayer
• Choose to plan different tasks, and
depending on timing and framing will
influence work done and stress.
• Goal: Get people talking about stressor
and recognize they are not powerless to
handle stress.
• Quite succesfull with public employees
but limited long-time pickup.
Helbredsprofilen (Health Profile)
• Client project (Zealand Health
• MMO social gaming for patients >50
with chronic health conditions
• Browser-based, up to 720
simultaneous players
• Users create avatar with chronic
condition and attempt to improve
their health through lifestyle
• Competitive gameplay, but...
• A strong social support element
• Closely embedded in new praxis
around chronic patients.
• STREP FP7 Project (3 years)
• Hospital-based therapy for patients
with chronic pain and compulsive
• Challenges in a 3D island environment
• Motion capture and biofeedback
sensors provide data to the medical
• Good data and patient response
• Difficult technology to set-up and use
Games 4 Health
• Danish-funded research project
• Post combat stress conditions for exmilitary personnel
• Screening, diagnosis and therapy
• Side-by-side gameplay with therapist
• ‘Flashbacks’ and civilian life scenarios
• Use of biofeedback, GSR and heartrate monitoring in real-time
• Extremely effective assesment effect
and player response – almost too
effective in preliminary tests.
• Overly complex development cycle
What is this talk about?
Methodology & games studied
Quick overview key results
Recommendations and conclusions
Current Market Condition
• SG-H is well established and certain to
become stronger
• Evidence of efficacy is lacking – willingness
and acceptance would increase dramatically
• Funding for innovative health projects is
always less than we would like to see
• Regulations and documentation limits the
chances of moving from experiments to
mainstream use.
Reflections on SG Development
• Movement from a position of skepticism to enthusiasm based on
• Willingness to be seen as an ‘early adopter’
• Poor integration of end users in development cycle (despite
impression of strong involvement)
• Collaborative dev. process held in high esteem by professional and
contributes greatly to patient confidence in products (but can be
overly complex and hard to manage)
• Overly long development cycles
• Impressive results through low- and middle-cost technologies (data
• A need for tools which make the development cycle transparent to
pedagogic designers, SG designers, clients and users
The Future
• US military involvement in health space is
attracting major insurance companies to invest in
clinical trials of effectiveness
• Methods to develop ‘cross-over specialists’ are
crucial (and we see some movement in this area,
e.g. Odense University Hospital initiative)
• Common trend of development cycle cost
reduction (time, and money)
• Promising signs regarding service sustainability
What is this talk about?
Methodology & games studied
Quick overview key results
Recommendations and conclusions
Future Trends II
Short games (mini-games)
‘Just-in-time’ approach
Self-tracking & self-reporting
– Emotional, psychologial, cognitive health
– Stress-management
– Anti-phobic training
– Relevant health information in timely fashion
Key Points
• Expectation that the overcoming of lack of efficacy for
effect will be driven from the US
• Some encouraging signs of improvement in the
development process, but end users need to be more
fully integrated
• Improvements in service provider understanding of the
value propositions (in particular: data mining potential,
ease of use, social value, and the potential to shift
upstream to prevention rather than treatment)
• All pointing towards a maturing of the serious games
for health space
Contact info
Company details
Serious Games Interactive
Ravnsborggade 2-4, 2. floor
DK - 2200 Copenhagen N
My details:
Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen
[email protected] | +45 40 10 79 69

games-for-health-amsterdam - Simon Egenfeldt