Video Games

GAMES FOR HEALTH EUROPE CONFERENCE 2013

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GAMES FOR HEALTH EUROPE CONFERENCE 2013

A Game4Health conference is going down in Amsterdam on the 28-9 October this year! A lot of big names are coming this year, be sure to spread the word!!

I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about after this is over! 

Video games as a surgical tool

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I read an article a few weeks back about how video games could be used to enhance surgical skills in surgeons in the United States. According to Fleming’s article, a recent experiment conducted by Dr James Rosser in Florida Hospital Celebration Health used the game Super Monkey Ball as a tool to see if video games can be used to improve surgical skills. I’m a bit skeptical about the effects of this game but from what I could understand 150 surgeons played the game prior to performing a simulated laparoscopic surgery while the other 150 didn’t.

The results shows that those who did play Super Monkey ball scored higher than those that didn’t. I’m astonished but also still a critical about whether these two are actually that well connected. I mean I’d be a little worried if my doctor lost a game of League of Legends or Call of Duty before doing a life and death operation. But I think this is a massive breakthrough knowing that video games can be used to improve concentration and reduce clinical errors. The picture I linked above is from the game known as Surgery Simulator which basically takes a real life concept and make it stupidly difficult for gamers. It’s done for laughs but the Simulator series has gotten quite a fanbase for its wide array of games.

But seriously though, Super Monkey Ball…?

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How video games can also inspire

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Anyone here read Animorphs when they were kids? I know I have. Animorphs were a series of children’s books that features a group of teenagers who are tasked to save the world from a secret alien invasion. They were gifted by a prince of an alien race – the power to acquire and bond with the dna of living creatures and the ability to turn into them at will. These stories were inspiring and much like the characters in video games, they have inspired us to be something greater than ourselves. You would imagine yourself in the boots of Link, traversing the dangerous lands, rescuing the princess and saving the day. Or you can be an everyday plumber who stands up against an evil threat when everyone else has thrown in the towel. Recent games have enhanced this inspiring feature. Games like Assassin’s Creed and Halo immerses you in the shoes of these different fictional heroes and along the way you learn from them and how you can be just as good or as confident as them in real life.

Especially in the case of Assassin’s Creed, the game has inspired many people to follow in the footsteps of these heroes. The game has inspired a new generation of people to train and learn the art of parkour.  It’s a thrilling workout that’s become more susceptible to the public popularised by video games.

What do you guys think?

Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/09/sports/parkour-a-pastime-born-on-the-streets-moves-indoors-and-uptown.html?_r=0

How video games changed someone’s life.

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Here’s some old research from Australian Pax a few months ago. According to Young and Well CRC CEO, Associate Professor Jane Burns, video games do have a positive effect on mental wellbeing. The key findings highlighted in her research shows that:

  • Moderate gameplay can contribute to positive emotions, emotional stability and the reduction of emotional disturbances.
  • Positive mental wellbeing has been associated with videogame play as a means of relaxation and stress reduction.
  • Depressed mood is significantly lower, and self-esteem higher, in those that play games.

Source: http://www.yawcrc.org.au/news/article/240

There will always be someone who criticise research like this, but I personally feel that this is true, video games has been a powerful remedy in many of our lives. If you’ve been following my Facebook page you would know that I really would love to hear people’s opinions and stories about what they think about this video games health issue. A few minutes ago someone sent me a message about how video games have changed the lives of someone close to them. Here’s what was written:

“Growing up, there were points when I could not understand my younger brother. His ADHD, mixed with a disruptive childhood, meant that he was withdrawn and incapable of focusing on anything long enough to bond with other people. He didn’t understand how people worked, and was all but incapable of making friends. He hated reading, and had no interest in stories or sharing ideas.

And then we got Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He couldn’t read the subtitles, but he would sit there as we read them to him. He would listen, and first began to understand the importance of honing skills. He was given a world he could live in, and learnt the power of stories. And finally, this was something he could discuss with other people. Here, friendship began.”

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Video games can heal. In time I think video games are capable of being more than just simple entertainment. We’re taking steps to accomplish this goal, but until people take video games more seriously we’ll continue to strive for the light.

Test your might~!!

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Since I posted an article on DDR this time I’ll be discussing some other games which train hand-eye coordination, limb strength and encouraging people to get more active.

The game I’ll be focusing on this time is the Taiko no Tatsujin series which is a bunch of musical rhythm games which uses a large circular drum. The game has an album of songs on different difficulties and the goal of the game is to hit the drum based on the different symbols on the screen. I’ve had some experience playing Taiko in the past on the PSP handheld console, it’s entertaining fun listening and following certain rhythmic music from a variety of genres such as Japanese folktale to popular songs from Japanese anime and television dramas.

^This is a level I will never reach.

Playing Taiko in the arcade with an actual drum is on a whole other level. I can tell you that after playing it, my wrists hurt like hell, I was sweating like crazy and I couldn’t catch up. Taiko is definitely a game which requires strong hand-eye coordination, stamina and wrist strength and goes to show how the affordance of video game controllers have changed in a number of creative ways which can be quite physically challenging.

The western equivalent of this game would probably be the Guitar Hero series and Rockband series. That game was more oriented towards playing with friends and is most famous for its drum kit and guitar controllers. Those games are not as tiring but I would argue that it focuses more on training the player’s mental health and trains the player’s brain activity.

^I remember a joke a friend made about how he got hospitalised playing Through the Fire and Flames on expert mode

I asked friends on Facebook what types of games are similar to these and they’ve come up with a few of their own.

A few months ago I stayed overseas in Hong Kong over summer holidays. While there I met up with a few old friends back in secondary school and he took me to the arcade with him. The short time I spent there I was engrossed in this giant arcade machine that looks like a futuristic washing machine. The game is called Maimai+ and I think it takes these forms of highly interactive arcade games on a whole new level.

This game doesn’t test strength unlike all the other games I’ve mentioned thus far but it tests hand-eye coordination more than anything else.

If you guys got any other suggestions I’ve missed out on, let me know!

Dance Dance Re-Evolution!

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This time I want to talk about the revolution of the Dance Dance Revolution games and their sub genres.

DDR was first released in Japan in 1998 and was very popular with players of all ages. Over the years the relationship shared between DDR and video game Arcades have become almost synonymous. When I go to the Arcade I think of really old Neo Geo games, fighters, first person shooters and of course – Dance Dance Revolution.

DDR of course is a game which requires the players to press the buttons under their feet corresponding the direction shown on the screen. This simulates the motion of dancing and following the beat and is a very good game which adds a fantastic album of music, exercise and fast energetic gameplay.

This video shows a person experience DDR.

There’s just too many DDR spin offs for me to count but there is definitely one suitable for anyone. In fact DDR has become such a cultural phenomenon,  Kleinedler’s article discusses how DDR is used to teach teenagers group fitness.

With the advent of better gaming technology, the ways to play dance revolution games has changed as well. Unlike the Arcade version of DDR made almost 20 years ago, some earlier console DDR games uses fold up sensor mats to simulate the feel of playing at the Arcade. The weakness of playing DDR is that the game makes you focus too much on leg movements and doesn’t truly mimic the feel of dancing. But nowadays we don’t even need to use the mat, we simply use motion sensor cameras like Xbox Kinect which captures full body motion. Games like Dance Central and Just Dance are very good examples of new generation of games in the dance genre.

And here’s a video of the Star Wars Kinect dance off game as Darth Vader attempts to seduce you to the dark side with epic dance moves:

The point I’m trying to make here is that these games are a very good source of health fitness. Games like Wii Fit are designed for slow paced workouts but these party games don’t just work but can also be fun at parties or with family.

Maybe next time I’ll talk about music beat games…

A response to Beer and Joysticks!

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So I was looking at Chris’ article from Beer and Joysticks and it got me thinking.

Has video games really helped me solve a real life problem? I think that’s another interesting thing I can file under this website. I would agree that video games to some extent has helped me solved some really troubling issues with my life and the life of other people too!

So I asked a bunch of friends and other people on Facebook the same question and the response is that video games has helped them relieve issues of stress. A friend of mine, Cameron has claimed that: 

“Mass effect 3 is my go-to game when i’m feeling stressed or just sick of stuff. usually blows up in my face though thanks to those fucking premium spectre packs that never give me what i want”

Another interesting comment I received on this issue was Julian, who said: 

“The Sims 2 was quite a big help in my adolescence. When I moved from an American school back to Malaysia, the initial culture shock meant that I wasn’t very liked or well-received with most of the local and other Asian students. 

Admittedly I had created my Sims 2 neighbourhoods and storylines with customised downloads to better reflect my boarding school around me, but in a way that I can shape its outcome to help me understand my mistakes back in high school (aka why she took offense to me, why he never gave back my camera, etc.). It really did help that Sims 2 had a University Life expansion pack”

There are also other benefits which I will expand on over the next few days but generally video games have been a good source to relieve social and mental pressures. It’s like a form of anti-stress. 

I’m sure some of you remember the game ‘Weapon Closet’ when you were a kid. That game features a variety of weapons which you can plant on to your screen and watch as your 3000 word essay burns into digital smithereens (Thank god I saved a backup!)

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