Games for Health Europe – Prescribing Games as Therapy

Global team members Ting Jiang, Jan Willem Lindemans, and Rebecca Kelley attended the 8th Games for Health Europe conference in Eindhoven, the Netherlands between October 8-9. The largest conference on games for health in Europe, it brings together medical professionals, academics, and game developers from the field of applied health games to discuss using game technologies to improve health and the delivery of healthcare.

Ting Jiang, Principal of CAH’s Global Health and Development team, gave the opening keynote about the important role that behavioral science can play in creating more impactful games and gamification features, especially for health-related behavioral change. In her talk, Ting used the example of designing a game aimed at increasing medication adherence and explained that a behavioral diagnosis is necessary to determine the extent to which non-adherence is caused by: lack of intention vs. intention-behavior gap, social vs. individual factors, and system II (deliberative) vs. system I (automatic) thinking.

(Photo: “Happy Money” game playtest in Kibera)

Ting noted that applying behavioral science tools early in the game development process leads to more accurate identification and measurement of behavioral change progress and permits experimentation aimed at identifying the most effective game components. She also gave examples of games developed by CAH, including the board game “Happy Money,” which is designed to help individuals with low income make better daily spending and saving decisions, in order to reduce deaths from lack of health financing for curable diseases. “Bill Thrill,” a cashier training game funded by the Joep Lange Institute, is another example of how games can be used to promote effective behavioral change. After identifying a core behavioral barrier of health clinic cashiers shying away from the use of a new digital transaction platform, the team gamified this real-life challenge to improve cashiers billing skills and increase their professional pride, with the aim of increasing behavioral uptake of the new platform and self-efficacy.