Four weeks on from the 3rd Annual Games for Health Europe Conference, it worth reflecting on how the field is starting to take shape. The conference took place in Amsterdam and brought together a diverse group of individuals from many different countries and professions. There was a healthy mix of academic and industry focused presentations, posters and demos. It was the first time I had attended the conference and as far as I can recall, the first time I had set foot in the Netherlands outside the confines of Schiphol Airport! There was a very varied range of projects on show and it became evident that there were many exciting and innovative developments occurring across Europe. For me personally two important trends seemed to be emerging. The first was that there was much greater focus on specific health problems/issues and how game-based approaches can potentially fit into the search for solution, rather than health games being presented as a solution looking for a problem.
The second important trend or rather Zeitgeist was the rapidly developing digital ecosystem through which many innovations in service delivery and enhancement are now taking place. There were a number of different talks describing both how the network infrastructure was developing and how data capture and sharing was becoming much more streamlined. As a result of these developments, it now becomes possible to develop health games that make use of these technological affordances to complement and enhance health service delivery.
The presentation that I gave based on the paper I had written in conjunction with several GALA partners was particularly timely in this regard in that it was making the economic case for conceiving, designing and developing games for health and healthcare as services rather than products, because unless they become part of the emerging health digital ecosystem, they are most unlikely to be financially viable.
Thin AG, Fiucci G, Luccini AM, Rudnianski M, Sánchez RG & Hauge JB (2013). Servitization versus Commoditization: the Business Model Dilemma Confronting Serious Games for Health. Proceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Gaming and Playful Interaction in Health Care: Games for Health, 75–84.