The Role of the Researcher in Making Serious Games for Health

The Role of the Researcher in Making Serious Games for Health

Pamela M. Kato (University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1903-6.ch010
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There has been increasing focus on serious games for health; however, there is very little evidence for the effectiveness of these games and the existing research often lacks scientific rigor. The aim of this chapter is to demystify the process of collaborating with researchers and outline how a researcher can contribute to making more effective games and start the process of evaluating it scientifically. Researchers should be engaged BEFORE serious games for health are developed in order to place serious games for health in the best position to have a measurable impact on health outcomes. The chapter covers issues of working with researchers to agree on problems to address, applying behavioral and learning theories to solve them, and finding optimal research designs to validate the serious game. Issues of safety and ethics in health research are also given considerable attention.
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Validation research on a serious game for health is an attempt to evaluate whether or not the game intervention is able to have a measurable impact on an outcome. With a serious game for health, this outcome is assumed to be related to health. It is not about how satisfied the user is with the serious game for health, how much fun he or she has playing it, or whether or not the person understands how to use the game software and navigate it successfully. This type of research is usually considered to be usability research. Validation research is also not about how many copies of the game are distributed or bought although this certainly plays a part in how much of an impact the game can have on outcomes. Game usability and sales may have play a role in the ability of a serious game for health to impact health outcomes, but they do not represent validation research as we are using it here.

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