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There is growing recognition of the serious side of videogame play. ‘Games for Health’ is an important and internationally recognised field of medical and health researchers who apply videogame technologies to clinical issues. They work within the health and research system and collaborate with game developers and gaming console designers and manufacturers.

The aim of this event is to highlight the ways in which health researchers are working with videogame technology and to bring together people who are working in or have an interest in the development and application of gaming technology in the health sector.

The program includes leading edge researchers, an interactive demonstration of different game solutions and a panel discussion between game developers and health researchers to explore the key issues for building a Games for Health community in Australia.

In the popular media, as well as the scientific research literature, the playing of video games has often been associated with negative health outcomes such as increased aggression and violence problems with addiction to gameplay social withdrawal increased sedentary behaviour increased risk of cardiovascular problems and even increased risk of epileptic seizures.

With the popularity of exercise-based gaming systems such as the Nintendo Wii, there has also been a rise in reports of “Wii knee” haemothorax ruptured tendons and fracture of the metatarsal. Despite the gloom surrounding the negative health consequences of engaging in video gameplay, there is an increasing interest in the potential application of video game and virtual reality technology to various health domains. A quick search using the terms “video”, “games”, “medicine, “rehabilitation”, “pain” and “health” on the primary medical research database available from the US National Library of Medicine (Pubmed) reveals over 1000 recent research articles, many of which report significant beneficial effects of the application of video games to health. In this workshop we present an overview of the serious side of videogame play and how medical and health researchers are starting to apply videogame technologies to clinical issues.


Professor Glenna Dowling, UCSF School of Nursing/ Mr Bob Hone, Red Hill Studios. Glenna recently received NIH funding to partner with Red Hill Studios to adapt the popular Nintendo Wii platform to create a therapeutic interactive game based on a classroom training program that has proven efficacy in improving gait and balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Stuart Smith, Neuroscience Research Australia. Dr Smith is taking an active lead in building links between health researchers, clinicians and consumers with video game developers and publishers to build new, or modify existing, video games for health.

Dr Jenny Nitz, University of Queensland. Dr Nitz has investigated the use of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board for balance training in older adults.

Ms Kate Miller, Occupational Therapist/Clinical Researcher at the Royal Children’s Hospital Burns Research Group. Kate works with Professor Roy Kimble’s team on the development and evaluation of diversionary therapy technology for treatment of pain following burns.

Mr Justin Brow, Project Director, Interactive Skills Integration Scheme. Justin is an Industry Strategy Consultant for Australia’s Digital Media Industries, he holds leading roles in several national programs assisting economic development, innovation creation, industry sustainability and international competiveness of local operators.

Ms Miriam Hockwald. Miriam is a PhD student at the University of Queensland working on using computer games and artificial intelligence to communicate the complex system interaction of immune and cancer cells. Miriam is also leading the charge nationally in establishing the Girl Geeks Coffee Club which aims to promote the inclusion of women in technical fields.

Dr Jens Schroeder, Qantm College, lecturer in digital game design. Jens’ PhD was on the perception of digital games in Germany and Australia. The thesis gave him deep insights into patterns of consumption of mass media, how they relate to modes of distinction and how these can effect the ability to produce appealing content. The aim of this workshop is to highlight the ways in which health researchers are already working with videogame technology. In the afternoon session we will make available a number of different game solutions for individuals in the health sector to get a hands-on feel for what might be possible.

Jens Schroeder and Miriam Hockwald will discuss barriers to development of games for health and Justin Brow will provide an overview of the ISIS Program, funded by the Australian Federal Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Victoria Government’s Department of Business and Innovation. ISIS is a two year industry development project modelling the interplay of interactive media expertise with non-games industry sectors.  Drawing on the advice and input by a highly skilled and knowledgeable Industry Expert Group, the ISIS Team is reviewing the current international landscape to explore how Australia can situate itself to best capitalise on future opportunities.

G4H will conclude with a panel discussion between game developers and health researchers to explore the key issues for building a Games for Health community in Australia.


Attendance at G4H is included in the cost of full HIC registration. Separate attendance fees for this event are as follows: Member - $280 / Non-Member - $320 / Student Member - $120 / Student Non-Member - $150