Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crossing the Chasm With Serious Games For Medical Education

Medical Education shortening Serious Games adoption lifecycle

Following my prior post Serious Games: The New Medical Practice, dated September 7, 2010, when medical students reported highly positive attitudes about the use of Serious Games for their education, I believe there is now anecdotal evidence that Medical Games may be one of the first Serious Games segments to Cross the Chasm between early adopters and early majority, paving the way for disruptive innovation in Medical Education.

Crossing the Chasm (1991, revised 1999), is a marketing book by Geoffrey A. Moore that focuses on the specifics of marketing high tech products during the early start up period. Moore's exploration and expansion of the diffusions of innovations model has had a significant and lasting impact on high tech entrepreneurship. In 2006, Tom Byers, Faculty Director of Stanford Technology Ventures Program, described it as "still the bible for entrepreneurial marketing 15 years later”.

In Crossing the Chasm, Moore begins with the diffusion of innovations theory from Everett Rogers, and argues there is a chasm between the early adopters of the product (the technology enthusiasts and visionaries) and the early majority (the pragmatists).

Crossing the Chasm is closely related to the technology adoption lifecycle where five main segments are recognized; innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. The most difficult step is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority). Moore's theories are only applicable for disruptive or discontinuous innovations.

"Academic leadership has called for innovative methods to enhance how medical students access the concepts that they need to become doctors. New media technologies developed by the video game industry hold great promise to helping educators to meet that critical mandate," says Frederick W. Kron, M.D.

Dr. Kron is a practicing, Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician whose career includes training in Radiology, Internal Medicine, Flight Medicine, and Family Medicine, plus scholarly work in Geriatrics, Physician-Patient Communications, and New Media Technology in Medicine. The breadth of Dr. Kron’s professional experiences in medicine and multimedia writing convinced him both of the need for a richer, more humanistic and patient-centered medical educational experience, and of the fact that new media technologies could help medical trainees to a far deeper understanding of patient-centered care than is possible with current educational techniques.

As JohnRice reported on his blog early November, regarding a paper entitled Systematic Review of Serious Games for Medical Education and Surgical Skills Training, appearing recently in the British Journal of Surgery:

“Although game-based learning is becoming a new form of healthcare education, scientific research on its effectiveness is limited. The aim of this review was to identify the value of Serious Games for training professionals in medicine and, in particular, surgery.”

Nineteen articles discussing 17 Serious Games specifically developed for educational purposes were identified by Dr. Marlies P. Schijven and co-author Dr Maurits Graafland. 

A Serious Game for Total Knee Arthroplasty (Replacement)

  3D Interactive Teams or 3DiTeams



Six studies assessed 13 commercially available games associated with, but not specifically developed for, improving skills relevant to the medical profession. They included sports, action, adventure and shooting games and were used to help surgeons improve their laparoscopic psychomotor skills.

The authors have made a number of observations as a result of their review. These include:
·         Serious Games form an innovative approach towards the education of medical professionals and surgical specialists are eager to apply them for a range of training purposes.
·         Serious Games allow multiple professionals to train simultaneously on one case and allow one professional to train multiple cases simultaneously. These skills are recognized as critical in reducing medical errors in dynamic high-risk environments, such as the operating room or emergency department.
·         Simulation and Serious Gaming represent ideal teaching methods to optimize the knowledge and skill of residents before they are entrusted with procedures in real patients. Educators and game designers should develop Serious Games that train professionals in order to maximize patient safety.
·         Although the cost of developing Serious Games can run into millions, this investment can be justified in terms of delivering better patient care and preventing errors and insurance companies could play a key role.

The paper can be read free online at:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Serious Games As Medical Animation For Surgeon and Patient Education

Serious Games challenging us to play Medical Games

Ghost Productions is a 3D medical animation studio that specializes in promotional marketing, surgical technique, and surgeon and patient education (please find also ghOst Productions: Serious Games As Inspiring Medical Animation).

Ghost Productions Exists To Explain Medicine 

According to Ghost Productions website, “nothing explains complex surgery, anatomy, or medicine as well as 3D animation. A study performed in 2005 found that medical students who viewed 3D Animation teaching methods outperformed a control group (who viewed only surgical videos) not only in topographical understanding but also in theoretical understanding”.

Ghost Productions explains medicine using the most advanced 3D animation technology and interactive experiences. Ghost produced and presented its first 3D medical animation at the North American Spine Society Meeting in 1994, making Ghost Productions the longest running computer generated medical animation studio worldwide.

Ghost uses the most advanced and efficient 3D animation software available. It is the very same platform used by blockbuster animation and special effects companies like Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic, and DreamWorks, but modified to specifically produce medical animation.

Ghost both specializes in medical animation and has mastered the art of character animation. This makes Ghost a first choice for clients who need to explain medicine accurately as well as inspire their audience with rich storytelling and novel characters.

Ghost has had the opportunity to work on some pretty interesting projects. On their Demo Reels page we may find animations created for Medtronic, Johnson and Johnson, DePuy, Osteomed, Biomatlante, Spiracur, Spineology, Cardiovascular Institute of the South, and many others. These demo reels highlight the strength of medically accurate surgical techniques as well as demonstrate Ghost’s ability to produce story-driven character animations.

About the Founder

Stephan Kuslich is the founder and Executive Producer at Ghost Productions, Inc. He is primarily responsible for the vision and workflow of 2D & 3D motion projects. Everyone at Ghost Productions, Inc. both creates and animates models, but it is his job to make sure that each frame of animation is perfect.

He began designing with a computer in 1986 with a Macintosh 512k. It was in a summer job as a presentation designer at Metropolitan Medical Center that he discovered his true calling. While creating a slide show, his boss asked him if I he could make the graphics move. He was sent to the computer store with the corporate card and purchased his first piece of animation software.

He remained a self-taught animator a few years until he was accepted into the last 6 months of a 2-year animation program at SCA. He graduated and took his demo reel to the Burbank Animation Opportunities Expo. He interviewed with Disney, Pixar, and Dream Quest Images–to name a few. Toy Story was still very new and computer animators were pretty rare. So his whole class got some great offers. He wanted to work on movie production at Dream Quest, but he had also been offered a position at a local medical development company.  Stephan Kuslich says: “I learned a lot working in medical development. I mostly learned that I couldn't stomach the rhetoric of corporate structure. I left, re-energized Ghost Productions and began making a new life beyond the constraints of the status quo.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Visit the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge Booth

Visit the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge in the STEM Pavilion

 Following my prior post Submissions Extended For The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge , I’m glad to invite you to see all Challenge Finalists in the STEM Pavilion, Booth 3263,  at the I/ITSEC Conference, to be held early next month. 

Use your ticket to vote for People’s Choice Award (voting open from Monday 3 December, 2:00 PM to Wednesday 5 December, 6:00 PM). Awards Ceremony for Category Winners & People’s Choice will take place on Thursday 6 December, 1:00 PM at Warfighters’ Corner Stage, Booth 3181, across from Serious Games Showcase & Challenge.

Visit the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge
at the I/ITSEC conference
December 3- December 5
In Booth 3263
Vote for People's Choice

Visit the website at for more information

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Serious Games As Physics Adventures In Renewable Energy

Serious Games to understand ever growing knowledge base of physics concepts and renewable energy sources

Via: OVOSKnowledge Rules the Game

(Please find also WiiWare Fluidity Turns Water-Based Physics Into Serious Games).

Steam Greenlight is a system that enlists the community’s help in picking some of the new games to be released on Steam. Developers post information, screenshots, and video for their game and seek a critical mass of community support in order to get selected for distribution. Steam Greenlight also helps developers get feedback from potential customers and start creating an active community around their game during the development process.

Last September Ludwig Serious Game has joined the Steam Greenlight community.

Ludwig is a 3D adventure game on the topic of renewable energies, set in a sci-fi context, for players aged 10 years and older, that offers a new dimension to physics education. It is 100% based on the physics curriculum (two physics educationalists were involved) and is about collecting and analyzing data, finding resources, exploring the interactive 3D-world, and solving quests.

Taking 3D point and click experiences to the next level, Ludwig adventures across a beautifully designed world as he tries to find parts to fix his broken spaceship. In order to do so, Ludwig must come to understand the complex physics that govern this strange world called “Earth”. Through a series of upgrades to his mechanical body, Ludwig unlocks more robust tools to analyze and understand an ever growing knowledge base of physics concepts and renewable energy sources.

Setting the Context

2098! Mankind has left the Earth and is now living in space colonies. 

Ludwig, a research robot from a faraway civilization and his spaceship are looking for forms of new energy. Unfortunately, mankind´s new space colonies are not listed on his interstellar maps, which results in a fateful crash with the physis, the biggest station with a billion inhabitants. 

The crash does not only tear a huge hole into the physis´ protective cover, but also damages Ludwig´s spaceship badly enough for him to lose control of it and crashland on planet Earth. Now it´s up to the player to clean up this mess!

Have a taste of it!

While following the storyline Ludwig has to learn about the human technologies on earth. Starting with the most basic form of energy production – combustion – he has to advance through a techtree to find and learn about more sophisticated forms of renewable energy.

Ludwig doesn´t know anything about the laws of physics on earth. So he uses his scanner to find and analyze physical phenomenon which appear in the game world. All the knowledge is stored in a dynamical concept map – the knowledgebase.

The knowledgebase is empty when you start the game. While playing, it fills step by step with new nodes. You will end up with a huge concept map of physical knowledge on renewable energies (developed together with physics teachers and educators).

The game features 4 unique “theme worlds”. The quests in each environment are based on a specific topic: combustion, water power, wind energy, solar energy.  

Ludwig was created by OVOS, an interdisciplinary design company from Austria, that took a unique approach to game development by looking at the core standards of some of the most common scientific curriculums and used that as a framework to build Ludwig’s journey. The concepts, and the order in which you learn them, run parallel to any major physics textbook found in a grade school classroom. This unique method allows Ludwig’s game and learning objectives to fit in to any starting curriculum, allowing students to learn traditionally and alongside Ludwig.

Play Ludwig and have fun!

About OVOS

The interactive agency OVOS Realtime3D has developed Ludwig in close cooperation with renowned partners who are advancing the development of Educational Serious Games in Austria: the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture, Danube University, Graz University, Vienna University and Departure – the creative agency of the city of Vienna.

OVOS realtime3D was established as the 3D development lab of OVOS Media Consulting GMBH and is mostly engaged in developing Serious Games, apart from designing and implementing interactive 3D applications.

Ever since it started in 2004, OVOS has been convinced that having fun is the best way for people to absorb content. 

OVOS consists of a core team of 15 people with the most diverse backgrounds. They are trained architects, painters, computer scientists and technicians. This interdisciplinary approach constantly triggers mutual inspiration.

Developer & Designers

OVOS: Jochen Kranzer (Project lead), Joerg Hofstaetter (Managing Partner). Scientific assistance & evaluation: Thomas Wernbacher (University of Graz), Michael Wagner (KPH Vienna).


Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Austrian Ministry of Science; project “Sparkling Science”, “Departure”.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Serious Games Helping Kids Understand Food Labels

Serious Games help developing lifelong healthful nutrition practices

Whyville and Numedeon (please find also Serious Games Helping Children To Cope With Stress)  have just announced a new project with the U.S. FDA focused on helping kids better understand food labels.  This project will be launching shortly in Whyville. 

FDA Consumer and School-Based Nutrition Education Programs 

Dr. Mary Poos, Deputy Director of the Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, provided an overview of FDA’s nutrition education initiatives, which include education programs, and Serious Games. The purpose of these efforts is to educate consumers to use the Nutrition Facts Label and other package information to develop lifelong healthful nutrition practices (approval of minutes from the June 7, 2012 NCC meeting).

Dr. Poos described FDA’s two primary education programs:  

The Spot the Block program, a teen-targeted health promotion campaign created to help combat childhood obesity by encouraging “teens” (ages 9 to 13) to use the Nutrition Facts Label to make healthful food choices. In addition to teen activities there are also tips for parents and materials to help them talk to their kids about the Nutrition Facts Label

Make Your Calories Count is a Web-based interactive learning program designed to help consumers use the Nutrition Facts Label to manage caloric intake and weight while planning a healthful diet. The website features several on-line training modules, transcripts, and materials that can be downloaded.

In addition to the programs mentioned above, another resource will soon be available through a partnership with Whyville, a virtual world for children, where children can relate information on the Nutrition Facts Label to health and wellness through Serious Games.

Dr. Poos also detailed FDA’s school-based education program that builds on a 12-year partnership with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The goals of this program are to improve student literacy related to nutrition, teach children about the food label to help them make healthier food choices, and to help combat childhood obesity using school-based education about nutrition. This program aims to educate teachers about the science of nutrition and food safety, through workshops and online tutorials, and to provide teachers with lesson plans and activities to use in their classrooms. 

Additional partners include the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Association of Middle Level Education, the National School Board Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

The Nutrition Crisis 

·         1 in 6 children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese, placing them at elevated risk for diabetes and heart disease. Worse yet, this number is on the rise. At the root of this crisis is poor nutrition due to unhealthy eating habits, which can lead to behavioral and cognitive problems that impact learning.
·         Prevalence of obesity in children 6-11 has tripled since the 1970s; 35% of children are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
— Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
·         40% of children go to school without breakfast
— Dairy Council of California
·         75% of adolescents fail to meet their daily requirement for calcium
— US Department of Agriculture

About Whyville

Whyville is the premiere educational virtual world for children, embedding simulationbased learning in an engaging and safe collaborative gaming environment. 

For thirteen years, the site has successfully created an environment that engages its "citizens" to learn about life, while having fun. In Whyville, kids play, socialize, compete, learn, design, eat, dance, govern and much more. 

Numedeon Inc., the parent company of Whyville, was founded by scientists from the California Institute of Technology who combined research expertise in learning and education with advanced simulation and virtual world technology to harness the power of the Internet to engage young learners.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Serious Games: Fad or Future?

Wouter Grove maps the Serious Games landscape

I had already addressed Wouter Grove’s Master thesis on the topic of Serious Games in my prior post Online Serious Games Delphi Expert Panel

Wouter Grove CEO of Gamechangers Pty Ltd, a Serious Games consultancy based in Cape Town, is especially interested in the intersection of the trends of ubiquitous gaming, ubiquitous computing and social networks and has recently written an article for Human Capital Review - Game-Based Learning: Fad or Future?

In the article, Wouter maps the current gaming landscape and identifies the characteristics that social gaming develops in its players.

Here are the highlights:

Playing at work or working at play?

Some distinctive features of multi-player, on-line games such as team collaboration, problem solving, and group decision-making have caused a lot of interest from practitioners in business, government and the military. The engaging and fun nature of games can also have piqued the interests of academics and practitioners alike.

Gartner identifies a strong trend towards workplace utilization of games:
“By 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.”

Kriz and Nöbaueriii stressed that learners should be stimulated to take on joint responsibility and to be proactive in shaping their own learning processes. The approach of problem-oriented learning requires the following:

a) Complex and authentic contexts, encouragement toward experience-oriented learning;
b) Multiple contexts, variety of perspectives and methods;
c) Social contexts, team learning, and teamwork; and
d) Instructional contexts, appropriate support from the teacher or trainer via debriefing by paying attention to experiences such as problem-solving strategies, cooperation, conflict, resolution, and so on.

Because gaming simulation propels these principles into action, it is an extremely useful learning methodology. Gaming simulation is an interactive-learning environment that makes it possible to cope with authentic situations that closely mimic reality.

Even Bill Gates sees game-based learning as the future of education. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are funding game-based learning to the tune of $20 million as one of their key priorities.

One of the most important benefits of games, and especially simulation games, is the manner in which productive failure and creative adaptability is encouraged. Fear of punishment, either formally or socially, is typically low in social games, encouraging experimentation and creative workarounds to reach mutual goals.

Game designer, Jane McGonigal refers to this pro-social emotion being encouraged and experienced by gamers as “happy embarrassment”.

In contrast with the almost bleak picture that executives are often presented with regarding the unleadable, unlearnable, unruly and “disobedient” nature of Generation X and Y, Jane McGonigal argues very passionately that gaming has created in this generation a group of “Super Empowered Hopeful Individuals.”

The emergence and growth of computer gaming has led her to conclude that social gaming leads to the development of the following characteristics in its players:

Urgent Optimism- Incorporation of games specifically designed to align players with real problems centered in the discipline being studied, provides learners with a sense of urgency to solve the problems they encounter, and gives them a sense of optimism, both in terms of solving the immediate problem and any other problems they may encounter.

Social Engagement - Games provide the content, structure, and medium for focused social interactions aimed at solving problems. In the gaming environment, in the classroom, organization or campus, the injection of game-based problems provides learners with a reason for learning, interacting, and working together in ways only rarely seen on the traditional campus by extending learning beyond the classroom and beyond the campus.

Blissful Productivity - People are happiest when they are working hard toward attainable goals. Gamification helps students to become blissfully focused on virtual problems by asking insightful questions and developing solutions to real issues.

Epic Meaning - Theory without application has little place in a world that is all about hands-on experiences, interacting with the world, and creative thinking. Students learn best by doing and college/organizational learning should be about helping learners to change the world. The gamification of higher education and business education bridges those areas by providing students with the skills and knowledge needed to effect the changes they want to see in the world.

Online Social Gaming as a learning design and learning technology can prove particularly valuable as leadership and skills development tool within the Digimodern world.  As with any management tool, circumspection in application is required for utilization of game-based learning. The dynamics of introducing these tools in the business environment is not without a great amount of inherent complexity. Leverage points need to be identified so that change initiatives can be introduced with minimum operational risk, while simultaneously maximizing outcomes.

 Everyone is a player?

The socio-cultural phenomenon of digital gaming has become pervasive. According to Fast Company it is estimated that 97% of 12-17 year olds play computer games. What is, however, more interesting, is the fact that so do almost 70% of the heads of American households.  

The age of the average gamer? Not 12 to 17, but 34. One survey found that 35% of C-level executives are video game players and 47% of gamers are women.

According to Jane McGonigal, the director of game research and development at Palo Alto–based Institute for the Future, globally 350 million people spend a combined 3 billion hours per week playing computer games.

The computer gaming sub-culture is about forty years old. This has, however, been a very busy forty years. It is estimated that gamers have spent the equivalent of 5.7 billion years gaming. McGonigal puts this in some perspective by pointing out that this is how many years have elapsed since the first primate began walking upright!

The virality and stickiness of social networks is fueling this growth. DoubleClick estimates that Facebook receives 33 billion visits from its user base per month. Those users click on 31 pages per visit and stay for more than 23 minutes, generating a stunning 1.4 million useryears per month. According to App Data, the top five social app/gaming companies on Facebook now reach a combined 430 million monthly active users.
CityVille, a popular Facebook game by Zynga went from zero users to 100 million users in 41 days!

Games have very clearly become mainstream entertainment for all ages. Some of the most successful video games even exceed movie sales.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which launched in November, 2011, was the most successful product launch in history, grossing more than $1 billion in its first 16 days of sales. In comparison, the most successful movie of 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, only grossed $381 million.

Many business leaders are asking themselves how they could leverage this trend. More and more businesses are using game-based learning very successfully. One of the primary workplace benefits of gaming is that it can teach players effectively about complex systems through cause-and-effect realizations.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Save The Date: 2013 Serious Play

Serious Games @ Serious Play Conference

The 2013 dates for the 3rd Annual Serious Play Conference (please find also Experts Dissect Serious Games Assessment @ Serious Play Conference) will be Tuesday - Thursday, August 20 - 22 at DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington.

Two days of immersive, hands on sessions for teachers on integrating games in the classroom shall be added.

Faculty interested in introducing more coursework in Serious Game Development will also have additional training opportunities.

Speakers submission will open in December.