Last Friday (19/10), I had the honor to speak on DiGRA Flanders Meeting, on Antwerp university. It was a wonderful opportunity to present my work to other researchers and hear about so many interesting research projects. There is so much distance between Brazil and Europe, but I hope that meetings like this become the starting point for future partnership projects and sharing of knowledge.
Em the last days of June we had the second edition of the event Health in Game. While the last one was at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, in Manguinhos, this one happened at Getúlio Vargas Foundation, which houses the CTS Game Studies, coordinated by Arthur Protasio, who shared with us the event’s organization. We had researchers and game developers presenting the potential of video games in cancer treatment. First we had UFF professor Liliane Faria da Silva, talking about the importance of playing for the children with cancer, then game developers from T&T presenting Combate, their video game about cancer treatment inspired in the successful Re-mission. The third presenter was Arthur Protasio, talking about the importance of narrative in games for health. After that there was a debate with the audience who was very engaged on the theme. These second event confirmed to us the importance of discussion about video games for health and we are already planning next year’s event.
The Hospital Evangélico de Londrina (in Paraná, Brazil) developed Intera, a software working with Microsoft’s Kinect to be used during surgeries, which makes possible for the surgeons to manipulate x-rays and other exams without risk of contamination. The video is in Portuguese, but the images speak for themselves:
This year started with an alarm in Brazil. A old draft bill from senator Valdir Raupp got ressurrected. This bill would ban the manufacture, import, sale and even possession of games deemed offensive to religions, customs, traditions and cults. The poorly written bill would permit to condemn pratically any game to oblivion and would be a devastating strike against Brazilian nascent game industry. Fortunately, a major movement from gamers, gamedesigners and game companies managed to show the senator the problems with his project and he decided to withdraw his bill. A huge victory for games in Brazil which also shows the long path we still have to walk untill video games get the same respect than other media.
Below, some links where you can read more about these events:
Two different stories recently announced positive cognitive effects of video game playing. The Wall Street Journal video below shows the findings of researchers at Simon Frasier University, whose study concluded that games like StarCraft II improve players’ multi-tasking and cognitive skills:
Researchers at the Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University published an article reporting that playing World of Warcraft boosts the cognition of older adults. This is especially interesting because the study showed that playing the game boosted cognition for “Particularly those adults who had scored poorly on cognitive ability tests before playing the game.” . The complete article is here.
These are encouraging findings. Who knows, maybe in the future we can devise whole new therapy programs for older citizens using games instead of medication. It’s good to see the scientific community looking games not as a threat, but as a potential tool.
The blog is still in a small hiatus, but I’m far from being on vacation. Actually, there are a lot of work, projects and tasks to do. For now, a quick link from Yasiv, a web application that shows the “web” of books (on Amazon’s catalogue) surrounding a certain theme. This is the result for Game Studies. A great collection of works.
This is a very late post, since the DiGRA 2011 conference happened on last September. The process of the qualifying mixed with the organization of the event “Health in Game” here at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro absorbed all available time. Actually I don’t remember much about the last few months but an unending routine of writing, correcting and writing again. My wife is too gentle to mention it, but I’m pretty sure that I missed some baths in the last weeks…
The DiGRA conference was a great opportunity to see Amsterdam again and know more about the Utrecht University campus in the city of Hilversum. It was also a wonderful time to make some new friends and get a better view of how big and diverse the field of Game Studies really is. I had the honor of presenting together with Mary Flanagan and Jonathan Belman, who spoke about their game Pox, designed to show people the importance of vaccination. It’s a game with a elegant design and I could see its potential in Brazil, where we deal with some similar health issues. Who knows, maybe someday we can bring them to a workshop at Fiocruz…
I also had the pleasure of shaking the hands of some bibliographical references of mine as Eric Zimmerman, play in group with the thirty-year veteran on the field of games and play Bernie DeKoven and meet Reiner Knizia, the legendary boardgame designer, with more than 500 published titles. The event organization was excellent and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of colleagues from different countries. All in all, it was more like a vacation with friends than a academic conference, which, considering the theme, was a really good sign.
After a lot of work, finally we had our first event mixing health & games. The Health in Game occurred last Thursday and was a success. Even with the unfortunate location (Manguinhos is basically far from everywhere) and timing (we had to schedule it to a workday in the morning), we had more than fifty people for the first time hearing about the serious uses of video games for education and health communication. Giancarlo Vasconcelos and Bruno Monteiro, students of professor Esteban Clua, presented their game Jecripe, projected to patients of Down syndrome. Then Antonio Marcelo, professor at Oi Nave school, talked about the game design in education. Lastly, I spoke about the potential of video games in health communication. The event was moderated by Arthur Protasio and we even had ten copies of the game Capoeira Legends given to some lucky participants by professor and game developer Guilherme Xavier. It was a great event and our first initiative in that subject. I hope we were able to share our enthusiasm with the audience.