Can games have positive effects on young people's lives?

Researchers from Birmingham City University and Birmingham Children's Hospital are exploring how computer games and game based learning can be applied in the healthcare sector in a bid to boost young people's understandings of medical conditions that they may be living with and how to best to care for themselves.

Thanks to contemporary improvements in healthcare, children diagnosed with long term are now more likely to live a longer and healthier life. The research between the two institutions is exploring how game based learning could be used to encourage to learn about and actively participate in acquiring necessary skills in order to maintain their care as they grow older and become increasingly more independent as adults.

Andrew Wilson, researcher and senior lecturer at Birmingham City University's Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment, said: "The research into game based learning looks at how the processes and mechanics used in games, such as feedback and rewards and measurement of progress and achievement, could be used to help encourage young people to get involved in understanding their condition and the effects it has on their body, as well as improving their understanding of how to better take care of themselves."

Andrew, along with Janet McDonagh, a consultant and advocate of adolescent centred care at Birmingham Children's Hospital, have acknowledged that there are many important factors to be taken into consideration when developing game based learning for young people who are dealing with long term health issues, particularly actively involving them in the decision processes that are associated with creating the games.

The team recently presented their work at the European Conference on Game Based Learning in Portugal. They hope that by raising awareness of their research into the use of games in the management of young people's healthcare, it will provide an insight to a wider audience of how games can be used for positive benefits on young people and their health rather than be seen to be a negative influence on their lives.

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