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Grants awarded for games-health research

$1.85 million to be made available to 9 teams across the US in benefits search

Over USD 1.85 million in grants has been assigned to nine research teams in the US in a bid to look at the possible health benefits that playing videogames can bring.

The money, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will examine a variety of issues across a number of existing health problems to see if a tangible link between games and health improvements can be made.

A statement released by the Foundation notes a few examples, including: "How the popular dance pad videogame Dance Dance Revolution might help Parkinson's patients reduce the risk of falling; how Wii Active might be most effectively implemented in high schools to help overweight students lose weight; how a mobile phone game with a breath interface might help smokers quit or reduce their tobacco use; or how facial recognition games might be designed to help people with autism learn to identify others' emotions."

In total the Foundation received 185 proposals and selected nine teams, each of which will be assigned between USD 100,000-300,000 to undertake one- or two-year studies.

"Digital games are interactive and experiential, and so they can engage people in powerful ways to enhance learning and health behaviour change, especially when they are designed on the basis of well-researched strategies," said Debra Lieberman PhD, communication researcher in the University of California's Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research - where Health Games Research is headquartered.

"The studies funded by Health Games Research will provide cutting-edge, evidence-based strategies that designers will be able to use in the future to make their health games more effective."

A complete list of the grantees and their research programme plans is available on the Health Games Research website.

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