Games For Health Regional Summit: Playnormous, Humana & More

Are these critters cute, or what?

They’re the lil’ monsters from our friends at  Playnormous, who shared news of a one day event called the Games for Health Regional Summit coming up December 4, 2008 in Houston, Texas. The event offers a great opportunity to get an introduction to the games for health field. You can meet some of the Playnormous allies and their core team from Baylor College of Medicine, hear from speakers such as Ben Sawyer of the Serious Games Intitiative, Jim Bower of Whyville, Miguel Encarnacao of Humana Games For Health, all in a one day event at Rice University…(Andre Blackman, heads up!)

It’s so affordable I’m even tempted to go myself since it’s much more streamlined in topic than the massive Health 2.0 national conference (which was fabulous, and I’ve only yet BEGUN to sift through my data to cover) I have at least five more posts on Health 2.0 in the hopper, so stay tuned, and know “it’s coming.”

Similarly, the Elf Island interview I mentioned here. is forthcoming (so excited to hear they successfully kicked off on Tuesday, November 4th!) but now that I have an ‘Elf Island boat pass’ into their beta-testing virtual world, I’m holding off a tad so I can cruise around inside the world myself for a firsthand peek! Plus, with the elections, then “All Things Girl” week, the timing is pushed back a jiff.

Delays sometimes happen for reasons we don’t surmise…The Health eGames pushback works well too, since the panel moderator, Doug Goldstein of (Gaming4Health community I wrote about here) was so swamped in his Health 2.0 booth that I need to interview him online now about his new Market Report titled “How Video Games, Social Media and Virtual Worlds Will Revolutionize Health.”

Sounds intriguing…Especially after plunging into some CDC “Health eGames” research and Verb Yellowball CDC marketing to kids…(remember what happened there?)

Here’s the game release schedule from Playnormous just to show you the plethora of offerings being created in this realm…(including their two newest ones Lunch Crunch and Brain Gain)

Playnormous is now officially ‘out of beta testing’ phase, complete with teacher pages, buttons to snag for your own site, and an all new partnership with Kids.Gov (official kids portal for the U.S. government; I’ll post Melanie’s favorite links from that site at the end!)

Melanie Mowry also wrote a fabulous multipart series on ‘how to measure’ health e-games outcomes which I’ll run in full when I get back to the Health 2.0 theme. But for now I’ll focus on the Humana Games post, since the whole concept of an insurance company entering the gaming arena for preventive purposes intrigues, and actually makes a lot of sense to me…both from a profitability and corporate social responsibility standpoint.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve been looking at the potential of ‘benign underwriters’ to keep this blog going, such as maybe life insurance companies or people who have an interest in kids’ health and well-being long term? I don’t know, we’ll see…I can’t live on air forever.

Innovation for education…corporate social responsibility and profiting from healthy outcomes for all? —I can get behind that!

Melanie has given me permission to ‘lift’ relevant posts from the Playnormous “Monster’s Blog” ongoing, to give people a feel for the various types of tactics, outcomes and measures and creativity being lobbed into ‘casual games’ in the gaming for health segment.

Here’s her recent post about positive new ways companies are aligning for childrens health.Meanwhile, congratulations, Playnormous people one and all…Seems you’re rolling out faster than we can cover these things!

I hope they’ll be coming to the Network for a Healthy California/Champions for Change event in March, as our state could sure use some new, collaborative and participatory wellness thinking. It makes so much  more sense for hospitals and youth venues to team up with turnkey programs that work rather than invent them from scratch.

Teamwork, people, teamwork! Collective knowledge!

This is why I want to continue to keep Shaping Youth and all of our youth programs OPEN source…I have very little patience for information-hoarding. But, um, if you’re a regular reader (or a student who’s played our hands-on games) you’re more than well aware of that…

Humana Games for Health Promoting Exergaming System

via Melanie Mowry, Playnormous (+Humana Games release in italics)

Humana Insurance Company wants you to get off your couch and play some games! Not only is Humana our office’s insurance company, but some of the Playnormous team has become pretty good friends with their new intitative HG4H, Humana Games for Health, after meeting them at the Games for Health Conference earlier this year. Our friends at HG4H issued a press release a couple of weeks ago that was picked up by the International Business Times. They wrote such an interesting article that I decided to re-post it here on Monster’s Blog. Happy reading! –MM
A new collaboration between Humana and iTech Fitness is intended to inspire video-game players to get off the sofa and try their hand at the latest generation of active games, known as exergames. Humana is working with iTech in an effort to get more people more active – using exergame technology to promote health and wellness.

Humana Games for Health, part of Humana Inc., and iTech Fitness will jointly promote iTech’s new XRKade iZone, a fully integrated and mobile exergaming system that can be purchased and easily installed in about 300 square feet of space. The XRKade iZone incorporates four LCDs, all gaming electronics, gaming consoles and up to eight items such as bikes, boards and dance pads into one convenient package. The system can be upgraded at any time with new gaming technologies. Humana and iTech will present the iZone as a solution for organizations that want to promote exergaming, but have limited space and technical know-how, including fitness centers, schools, senior centers, corporate wellness programs and hotels. The iZone, which plugs into a single 110-volt outlet, can be easily stored or moved from site to site for special events.

We developed the XRKade iZone to offer a fun and simple solution for non-traditional markets wanting to offer the fun of active gaming with limited space and easy set-up,” said Mike Hansen, iTech president and CEO.

“We are excited to collaborate with Humana to bring active gaming to new markets.” iTech is unveiling the XRKade iZone this week at Club Industry ‘08, a trade show and conference for health and fitness professionals. The iZone is featured at Booth 160 in the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. Active gaming incorporates physical activity into the video game experience. Players power a fighter jet by pedaling, dance alone or in a group, do tricks on a skateboard or snowboard, or take an exercise bike for a leisurely spin through beautiful scenery, or a thrilling stage of the Tour de France – just a couple of examples.

“At Humana Games for Health, we believe game technology can be used to improve people’s health,” said Paul Puopolo, director of Humana Games for Health. “More importantly, active gaming offers a fun way to increase physical activity. That’s why we’re pleased to be working with iTechFitness. With exergame solutions such as the XRKade iZone, exergaming will now be accessible to more people.”

Back soon for Shaping Youth’s take on the Health 2.0 conference outcomes, since Paul Puopolo, director of Humana Games for Health was also on the panel I attended…They’ve got a LOT going on!

I’d like to also address thoughts and questions on outcomes with casual gaming, exergaming, virtual world fitness, gaming gyms, and the plain ol’ concept of ‘get ’em outside!!

We’ll also look into news of No Child Left Inside implementation (NCLI Act for environmental eco-literacy in schools) and how that could help impact health and fitness and curb against Nature Deficit Disorder more…

Meanwhile, Melanie Mowry, lead writer on the Playnormous Monster’s Blog shares her personal favorites on health and science with new partner Kids.Gov.

Melanie Mowry’s picks from Kids.Gov:

See Playnormous on by clicking on the following links:

Now on to “All Things Girl” week for more positive picks on Shaping Youth



  1. Amy,

    Congrats on a great blog and thanks for the wonderful work that you are doing for the youth of the world. You mention that “Shaping Youth is about leveraging alignment. Responsibility. Accountability. Ethics.” There are some great insights in this combination of words and principles.

    I was particularly taken by this blog about Eileen Clegg and how she uses visual insight to get her point across. Dr. Kathy Cramer of The Cramer Institute and I have written a few books that take the power of positive thinking to new dimensions through Asset-Based Thinking. ( The books relay heavily on visual insights expressed through photography to communicate and motivate. Our third book, coming out in April, Change The Way You See Everything, Teen Edition was created to help teens change the way they view themselves and the world through Asset-Based Thinking and takes the power of visuals to a whole new level.

    We also came across a great project that your readers would find interesting. It’s a program and website called Read Kiddo Read ( created by the best selling author, James Patterson. Jim’s passion is to instill the positive passion for reading in kids at an early age by encouraging parents, grandparents, teachers and kids to make reading a huge and healthy part of their lives.

    Positively influencing the next generations is the key to our future.

    Keep up the great work. We’ll be creating a post about Shaping Youth on our blog shortly. (

    Hank Wasiak

  2. Thank for making this valuable information available to the public.

  3. You have a really good blog. Thanks for taking the time to write these posts. I know first hand how tough it can be to come up with posts. Thanks again, Jack B.

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