healthGAMERS: Newly Launched Hub For Serious Gaming

hgJune 26, 2009 Just as some kids can sniff out an ‘educational’ experience and shut the learning light switch off (or dim it at best) others do the same with the phrase “Serious Games.”

Though it’s an accurate label for the new healthGAMERS site, I hesitate to use ‘serious games’ because it can send people bolting in the opposite direction faster than you can say ‘disease management’(Talk about a Health 2.0 term that needs a branding overhaul!)

Seriously.  It could even be part of Oprah’s “I know this much is true” schtick…

I’ve been in dire need of a forum like this to get a handle on ‘what works and what doesn’t’ as we’re all eager to share our ‘best practices’ so we don’t cover the similar ground. Most of us concerned with the kids’ health sphere are out to stealthily seed knowledge in whimsical, fresh new ways where it’s not like a “spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” So I truly prefer to think of healthGAMERS differently than just ‘serious games.’

For me, healthGAMERS represents an emerging community that aims to be an up-to-the-minute, one-stop collective knowledge pool, sharing resources and feedback from various perspectives…Educators, researchers, medical pros, game developers, even kids and parents splashing in the same waters…

ei-gq-nutritionI’ll be posting a recap of my own experiences beta testing ‘virtual nutrition’ GoodQuests in Elf Island which wrapped up this past weekend (gnome feeding to benefit Fresh soon…But I can tell you right now, not a day in the month went by without me using the word “tweak” or “refine” in some capacity…

We sure could’ve used a forum like this where data was housed in one handy, tidy little data pool! (c’est la vie, we have a ‘life-ring’ for the next round)

Trying to blend the “secret sauce” as Elf Island says, in creating ingredients that work (pragmatics, applied research and the wonderous whizbang appeal of the 3D VW/web) is easier said than done.

It’s not like you can sift best practices into a funnel of fun, press ‘blend’ and know the right ingredients will create a smoothie that appeals to multiple palates.

There’s no magic elixir, it’s all about experimenting and collaborating to achieve those elusive “outcomes and measures” (which is grant speak for “did the dang thing even work?”)

In fact, I’m still not convinced that we’ll be able to translate our hands-on reality show format Dare to Compare: Gross Out Game for Good Nutrition into a digital way to ‘scale it’ and may go back to our open source ‘train the trainer’ short sheet open-source games instead…

But just think of how much easier my work would’ve been sourcing colleagues who could advise specifics beyond ‘list serves,’ and the convenience of having the entire community as part of the conversation!

gamechanger cooneySome healthGAMERS articles are deep dives in themselves, others are surface updates on the blog that impart helpful, timely knowledge in a bigger heap of data….

Like the new Sesame Workshop’s Joan Ganz Cooney Center Game Changers: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children’s Learning & Health (69pp pdf)—Or this week’s RWJF’s Pioneering Ideas blog series where healthGAMERS from HopeLab, Playnormous, and youth leaders in the field like Ypulse share their voice and views.

Whether you’re interested in brain games, prevention, exergaming, or fresh A/V clips of the big Games for Health Conference in Boston earlier this month with links to important data and outcomes, the healthGAMERS site is a wealth of resources…Many of which are offering alternative games OTHER than screen time in online to offline bridges.

Example? The recent article I wrote about Humana Games tying in with Disney’s G-Force to get kids outside in active old-fashioned ‘field day’ fun…or the HopeLab ‘Ruckus Nation’ contest of ideas to get kids active and engaged through dance and ‘tag pods’ and all kinds of creative outlets.

So…Classroom 2.0 leaders? Fitness enthusiasts, e-Health Innovators, parents/kids interested in health 2.0, and those Edu-bloggers headed to tomorrow’s ‘EduBlogger Con’ in Washington D.C. here’s how YOU can contribute to the conversation too.

The site is growing daily with contributions from the healthGAMERS community…so add your own!

I’ve offered any and all of Shaping Youth’s nutrition or wellness articles to contribute to the data pool! Count me in!

playnormousMeanwhile, tomorrow I’ll post Part One with healthGAMERS Editor and Primary Author, Melanie M. Lazarus, MPH, who is also Director of Marketing at Playnormous and Archimage, a game designer of ‘serious games.’ (You remember Playnormous I wrote about them here, and added them to our sidebar?)

Well…In addition to Melanie, one of the first founding co-authors in the healthGAMERS community is none other than one of my favorite Health 2.0 human beings of all, Andre Blackman of Pulse & Signal!

Now just add the ISIS crew, HopeLab, Humana, Thrive, and all the other noteworthy health educators out there and I’d say healthGAMERS is shaping up to be a “dream team” indeed! Stay tuned to this tribe for certain…

p.s. I’m on a standby flight tomorrow to the Rockies, so will post “Part One: Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth Interviews healthGAMERS’ Melanie Lazarus” when I land tomorrow!

Overview Clip of Games for Health Conference via “Into Tmrw. TV” (Is that a radio voiceover promo announcer or what?!)


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