19 September 2013

Are video games the next global health frontier?

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Gaming may be the next frontier for global health innovation. If mobile health is the new and cool kid in school, then games for health is the awkward youngest sibling with few friends. It is the parents who see the potential in their youngest child and are willing to support his development.

Heather Wipfli is one of those parents. She is the Associate Director at the University of Southern California Institute for Global Health. USC also happens to be home to the Game Innovation Lab, a strength at the university and a natural place to explore gaming solutions to global health problems.

Advocacy initially interested she as a potential for gaming, but now she believes that games can do much more. A game like Free Rice combines learning, play and giving by automatically donating advertisement revenues to the World Food Programme.

“Integrating information with play could be a way to dispense important lessons,” she says.

One of her initial projects was a game called 1,000 Days, created in collaboration with the Global Alliance and ABC News. The game, played on Facebook, was designed to build awareness about the importance of a child’s first 1,000 days. With only $10,000 to build the game, Wipfli worked with a group of students to build the game.

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