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School of Informatics launches first-ever Midwestern Conference on Health Games


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October 5, 2010

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Interactive health games – using popular gaming consoles, the web and mobile technologies – have emerged as effective tools in the future of healthcare and education, and a new regional conference based at IUPUI hopes to help establish Indiana as a leader in this growing field.

The first-ever Midwestern Conference on Health Games (www.midwesthealthgames.org), scheduled for October 29 at the IUPUI Campus Center, will gather medical researchers, academics, IT professionals, multimedia experts and other leaders from Indiana and surrounding states to explore how healthcare is rolling out the fun and games to encourage healthy behaviors, prevent disease, improve overall care and drive down medical costs.

Meredith Golomb, M.D., M.Sc., of the IU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology will serve as keynote speaker. Other participants include researchers and entrepreneurs from IU, IUPUI, University of Indianapolis, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, Wright State University, Bloomington-based Wisdom Tools, Inc. and NYC-based Kognito Interactive, LLC.

The conference hopes to spark collaborations, interdisciplinary learning and potential business enterprises and investments that could benefit both Indiana’s academic and economic environments. Entities like the Health Games Research program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have invested millions nationwide in the continued research and development of health games.

Also known as “serious” games, health games apply interactive technologies to a variety of medical objectives, including educating diabetics on how to manage their condition, helping smokers kick the habit, fighting childhood obesity and maintaining cognitive ability in Alzheimer’s patients and senior citizens.

The conference is sponsored by the IU School of Informatics at IUPUI with support from the Games for Health Project. The conference is an extension of the research in which many of the school’s faculty is already engaged, including conference co-chairs Anna McDaniel, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and Hadi Kharrazi, M.D., Ph.D. They see informatics as the cross-disciplinary bridge that makes healthy outcomes through gaming possible.

“Researching, developing and testing a successful health game really involve people with
a broad set of skills. Of course, they have to understand the medical or clinical side of the equation. But they also need the computing and technology skills to program the game,” said Kharrazi.

“But even still,” added McDaniel, “they need the digital media and interface design expertise to know what makes a great game that people want to play, whether it’s just for fun or for health education too. Informatics is what really brings this all together.”

For more information, including location, programming and how to register, please visit www.midwesthealthgames.org. IUPUI faculty and staff may receive nearly 40% off regular conference prices by using code IUPUI when registering. Students may attend for $10. Lunch is included in the registration cost.

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The Indiana University School of Informatics was established in 2000 as one of the first schools in the nation dedicated to education and research in informatics. Informatics uniquely integrates computing, social science and information systems design to study how we use technology to communicate, work and engage. That knowledge is then applied to develop innovative IT solutions impacting our communities, science, healthcare, entertainment, law and business. The IU School of Informatics is located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and offers an array of certificate, B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. programs. For additional information, please visit www.informatics.iupui.edu.