First-Person Shooter Game Engines and Healthcare: An Examination of the Current State of the Art and Future Potential

First-Person Shooter Game Engines and Healthcare: An Examination of the Current State of the Art and Future Potential

Christos Gatzidis (Bournemouth University, UK)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1903-6.ch004
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First-person shooter (FPS) games have evolved from humble beginnings to what is currently considered the interactive entertainment genre most associated with state-of-the-art developments in gaming, particularly those of a technological and graphical nature. This chapter outlines and discusses past efforts, current usage of contemporary tools, and, finally, the significant suggested potential of first-person shooter gaming engines in the area of health, irrespective of whether these are targeted towards healthcare professional training, patient rehabilitation, or even raising awareness on key issues (to name but a few contemporary and/or suggested remits of the medium).
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Current State Of The Art

Efforts towards the implementation of gaming approaches within the healthcare sector can be traced back to before the term “serious game” entered widespread usage as a means to describe applications bearing familiar computer and video entertainment hallmarks, yet also a more purposeful, educational aim. Similarly to healthcare, which branches out to many fields, serious games themselves can be categorised in a number of various groups.

Serious games are in evident use today addressing issues in fields such as healthcare, education, military/defence, government operations, politics, city planning, and corporate and industrial processes, with an increasing overlap of these and many sub-categories beyond the scope of this chapter. Strictly speaking, as a genre, serious games can be traced back many centuries to basic board-game formats. However, accepting the definition of a serious game as a computer-based solution, a foremost area pioneering the use of video gaming for educational purposes has been the military sector. Examples include games such as DARWARS Ambush! (Raytheon BBN Technologies, 2011), a military training simulator and America’s Army (U.S. Army, 2011), originally intended as a marketing tool for U.S. army recruitment and notably one of the first serious games developed with the Unreal first-person shooter engine. Military serious games have paved the way forward for and remained a strong supporter of the medium to date and it is difficult to see this tendency reversing in the near future.

The other categories listed previously have also flourished, with the continued emergence of new titles as well as updates of established games improving on their efficacy; notable examples worth exploring as representative samples include the following: for corporate serious games IBM’s INNOV8 BPM (IBM, 2011a), which tackles business process simulation for professionals; for government serious games FloodSim (Playgen, 2008), which addresses the complex flood policy decision-making; for educational serious games, possibly the most saturated area of all, partly a result of the obvious overlap with other fields, Supercharged! (Barnett et al, 2004) for teaching physics and specifically electromagnetism in a classroom environment; for politics serious games the Global Conflicts series (Serious Games Interactive, 2011); and, finally, for city planning serious games, IBM’s CityOne (IBM, 2011b).

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