Video Games For the Win!

Wordle of Systematic Review of Serious Games for Medical Education and Surgical Skills Training (2012) Article
Wordle of Systematic Review of Serious Games for Medical Education and Surgical Skills Training (2012) Article

Video Games and Learning…it’s not an oxymoron, it’s real life.  In fact, I TAed an undergraduate course with this exact title at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  UW-Madison is also home to the Games, Learning and Society Organization and this fall, offered its first Coursera course on Video Games and Learning which many of my former peers and professors have tirelessly created.

But enough about Madison, what about video games at the University of Michigan?  Where can I find them and what can I learn from them?  The University of Michigan’s Computer and Video Game Archive is located in the lower level of the Duderstadt Center on North Campus.   They are celebrating their 5 Year Anniversary with a Party on November 16th from 1:00-5:00pm.  There will even be a Super Smash Brothers Tournament. (Participation in the tournament requires pre-registration so be sure to click the link!)  If you are curious about the learning outcomes and teaching applications of video games, I’d encourage you to attend the panel discussion, “Game On! Video Game Research & Teaching at the University of Michigan”.  It is this Tuesday, November 12, 4:00-5:00pm in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery (Room 100).

Right about now, you might be asking yourself, this is super interesting and all but how are video games related to the health sciences? (I’m hoping you appreciate the library collection connection.)  Well, it just so happens that video games are being utilized in medical education training.  In their 2012 systematic review published in the British Journal of Surgery, Graafland, Schraagen, and Schijven identified the value of serious games for training professionals in the medical, specifically surgical, field.  They also wanted to asses validity of serious games as a teaching method according to criteria regarded as best evidence.  They found ‘serious games’ provide challenging simulated environments with learning outcomes focused at reducing medical errors and subsequent health care costs.  However, validation measures were not available for all games; “until researchers have completed a full validation process for [serious games], they cannot be considered to be of true value in curricula for surgical resident training” (Graafland, 2012, p. 1328).  The possibility of using serious games as complements for traditional teaching practices should not be underscored and game designers, developers, and educators should work together to create games which meet validation requirements and help fulfill competency requirements through practicing simulated clinical procedures.

Video games are also used in patient rehabilitation and care.  Researchers at Michigan State University created a rehabilitation program using the Nintendo Wii-Fit Plus to promote light-intensity, self-paced walking and balance exercises to address cancer-related fatigue and ease the transition from the hospital to home after surgery for lung cancer patients.  At the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center & Institute for Gerontology, participants in the Silver Club Memory Programs play Wii Sports games, along with more traditional board and card games, to flex their brain muscles in an effort to slow the progression of memory loss and cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s Disease.

So to review, the University of Michigan has a whole archive filled with video games, researchers study and teach with video games, and ‘serious’ video games can be effective for health sciences training and patient rehabilitation and care.  Like the title of this blog says, Video Games for the Win!

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