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Dr. Gamer

Posted by: Kenji Hall on June 01

Shigeru Miyamoto, the Nintendo exec whose obsession over his own weight led him to create Wii Fit, isn’t the only Dr. Gamer in town. Just last week, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (through its Health Games Research program at the University of California, Santa Barbara) split $2 million in grants among a dozen university programs that are studying ways to merge medicine and video game interactivity.

A common theme among the winners: Getting inactive teens to exercise. Indiana University, Maine Medical Center, University of California, San Diego and University of North Carolina are all examining how gaming affects physical activity. Other ideas involve rehab and good dietary behavior. Gaming has gone from the arcade and living room to the workplace and hospitals, and it’s even threatening to replace the shrink’s sofa. In a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine, writer Sue Halpern describes how psychologists are relying on virtual reality to treat troops who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder after their tours of duty in hotspots like Iraq or Afghanistan.

Is this the gaming industry’s future? It’s hard to say. But there’s something ironic about the popularity of both casual and serious games: Analysts keep telling us that casual games are taking off because we people have less time to play games for fun and yet we’re seeing more games emerging as a way to help us cope with the real world. Try that one on for size.

Reader Comments

Lawrence Caldwell

June 3, 2008 08:10 PM

The future of gaming is in brainwaves. I have been studying this trend for over twenty years from both the technical and apocolyptic angles. The June 2008 issue of Inc. magazine claims this trend "is about to break down the barriers between the real world and fantasy."

The CGI capability is so good that in top-line movies one can scarcely tell the difference between reality and visual effects. Just imagine when these effects are constantly in front of you in games with thousands of simultaneous participants. Take it one step further and imagine that the what you see and hear is not produced by a computer but simply by the thoughts inside someone else's head.

There are interesting, fun, and frightening implications to this. Think about it.

Lawrence J. Caldwell
Author & Speaker
Lead System Engineer

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.



No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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