Game-Based Learning: Current Research in Games for Health, a Focus on Biofeedback Video Games as Treatment for AD/HD

Game-Based Learning: Current Research in Games for Health, a Focus on Biofeedback Video Games as Treatment for AD/HD

Krestina L. Amon, Andrew J. Campbell
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-495-0.ch028
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Whilst biofeedback video games are still new to AD/HD treatment options, this Chapter demonstrates that with children growing up in a technologically advanced world, it is not surprising that the prospect of learning relaxation skills to clear the mind, and calm anxiety or frustration, and receive treatment through a video game would increase a child’s interest and cooperate with biofeedback treatment.
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Computer and video games provide players with a medium that engages and, in some instances, cognitively immerses them for certain periods of time. By balancing numerous game components including game narrative, character traits, obstacles and challenges, game rewards, competition and collaboration with other human gamers. Video games draw out powerful emotional reactions in their players. These emotions include wonder and elation, power, fear, aggression, and joy (Squire, n.d.). Research studies conducted on computer and video games are increasing in number. Malone (1981) and Bekhtina (2002, cited in Cole & Griffiths, 2007) suggests that the basic motivations for playing video games are curiosity and interest, mastery and control, challenge, cognitive stimulation, as well as indulgence in fantasy and enjoyment of attending to life in a virtual world.

More recently, research has investigated the different ‘affective’ avenues video games can manipulate. As an entertainment source, video games have been produced that guide the player to focus, relax, be challenged, and become immersed in another world. As an education tool, video games have been shown to teach a range of technical and cognitive skills in increasing perception and stimulation, problem solving, strategic thinking and assessment, organising and discovering answers (Subrahmanyam, Greenfield, Kraut, & Gross, 2001; Wan Rozali, Hamid, & Sabri, 2007). Over the years, video games have evolved from basic sources of entertainment into a completely new level of fun, socialising, and education using advanced technology – which are frequently referred to as, serious games.

Serious games are associated with games which aim to achieve something more than just entertainment. Game-based learning deals with applications with defined learning outcomes and include the teaching, training, and informing features of education (Susi, Johannesson, & Backlund; 2007). Serious games are “…about leveraging the power of computer games to captivate and engage end-users for a specific purpose, such as to develop new knowledge and skills” (Corti, 2006, p.1; cited in Susi, Johannesson, & Backlund; 2007).

This Chapter will focus on the serious games of health, with particular focus on biofeedback technology for AD/HD.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Biofeedback: Individuals use biofeedback as a training technique using their physiological signals to gain conscious control over their body’s functions to improve health and performance.

The Journey To Wild Divine: Created by scientist Kurt Smith and game computer graphics artist Corwin Bell, The Journey to Wild Divine is an interactive computer game that uses three biofeedback finger sensors, called ‘Magic Rings’, to measure the player’s heart rate variability (HRV) and skin conductance levels (SCL). Measurements from the sensors are registered through the Wild Divine ‘Light Stone’ and fed back to the player through visual biofeedback activities, called ‘events’, on the computer screen.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV): The measure of a person’s natural changes between heart beats.

Classical Conditioning: It is learning to respond in a desired manner whereby a neutral stimulus (known as a conditioned stimulus) is repeatedly presented in association with a stimulus (unconditioned stimulus) eliciting a natural response or reflex (unconditioned response) until the neutral stimulus alone produces the same response (now called the conditioned response).

Skin Conductance Level (SCL): The measure of electrical conductance in the skin associated with the activity of sweat glands.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD): A developmental disorder the essential features of AD/HD is a continual pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity, comparable to what is typically observed in individuals of the same developmental level. To be diagnosed with AD/HD, a minimum of 12 symptoms listed in the DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000) must have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is inconsistent with the appropriate developmental level, and have been present before the age of seven years. Symptoms should be observed as present in two or more settings (e.g., at school and at home), and must demonstrate clear evidence of significant impairment of functioning in social and academic environments.

Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback training aims to develop skills for self regulation of brain wave activity, using real time EEG measurements. Individuals learn to train their brain activity to establish control over a desired response by making themselves aware of the sensations associated with the occurrence of a response.

Relaxation: Relaxation is characterised by a weakened state of physiological arousal and peaceful state of mental well-being. Relaxation training involves a number of methods such as meditation procedures, autogenic training, progressive relaxation, visual imagery etc., useful for managing a number of physiological and psychological conditions.

Operant Conditioning: It is the likelihood of whether a specific behaviour is increased or decreased through positive or negative reinforcement. The behaviour becomes associated with the pleasure or displeasure of the reinforcement.

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