Launching sometime this fall, a new "peer-reviewed" academic journal on the positive effects of video games on health will be launched. The sole purpose of this journal is to publish research from various sources such as the New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has been studying and supporting games for health for the past six years.
"Games are fun," said Paul Tarini, a senior program officer at the foundation. "If what you're interested in doing is helping someone manage a chronic disease that needs daily maintenance, or helping yourself develop a habit to help yourself feel healthier, you can do it the old-fashioned way. Or if games really work, you can do it and have fun at the same time."
Tarini added that he sees the launch of this new journal as proof that interest is growing in this particular field of research, even though it is still in its infancy.
"There's an increasing number of people who are interested in the question of whether games work, how well they work, and what makes them work," Tarini said. "If we weren't beginning to see a critical mass of people who are interested in those questions, we wouldn't see somebody saying. 'I think it's time for a journal.' "
Researchers funded by this and other foundations are looking at how effective games that are already readily available at retail (such as Wii Fit), are at motivating people to exercise. But not all of the health research is about physical fitness or games like Wii Fit; researchers are also developing new games that can help Parkinson's patients improve coordination through dancing, help people manage diabetes, stop smoking, and improve cognitive function. For example, at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Autism Research, researchers have enlisted the help of programmers to create a series of games that help autistic children develop skills in facial recognition.
"We believe when we have computer games, and lots of kids with autism like computer games and find them inherently rewarding and motivating, they might play them at home," post-doctoral research fellow Gregor Kohls said.
The Center for Autism research has already run trials using a basic computer game. Now they want to develop a more sophisticated version based on a popular commercial computer game.
Source: News Works