Games for Health to appear at SIEGE

 

The Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo (SIEGE) is a development conference in Atlanta that hosts a wide spectrum of attendees and contributors, from educational institutions, to business types, and the developers themselves.

This year they have one more, Games for Health, an organization focused on health-related game development and awareness.  One look at their staff and contributors page will reveal a collective of professionals from various disciplines,  including biomedical and health informatics.  Staffer Ben Sawyer is also a co-founder of the Serious Games Initiative for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

A few minutes of browsing through their respective websites shows that these institutions are not focused on mass public consumption (probably why I’ve never heard of them).  Rather, their goal is to place interactive media in hospitals, schools, management training environments, and other traditionally non-gaming habitats for educational purposes.

Normally placing “educational” before “game” makes me cringe, since my experience with educational games has been, to be blunt, bad.  Luckily developers are recognizing the historical poor quality of educational games and working to remedy that; Brain Age is a fantastic example.  Games for Health seems like an integral project, but they appear isolated in their own sub-industry.  There is definitely room for that, but there is also ample room advocating for the inherent educational qualities of mainstream games, something that is still severely stigmatized.

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