The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded more than $1.85 million in grants dedicated to researching links between gaming and positive health behaviors.
The grants, provided as a part of RWJF's Health Games Research national program, funded nine research teams located in the United States. Each team will lead one- to two-year studies of video games that promote physical activity, encourage disease prevention, and result in positive changes in physical, social, or cognitive skills.
RWJF-funded research groups will also investigate educational games that instruct players in chronic disease self-management and the procedures of medical treatment plans.
The nine grant recipients, detailed on the official Health Games Research website
, include the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Long Island University, Teachers College at Columbia University, the University of California at San Francisco, and the University of Southern California.
Two additional grants were awarded to research groups at the Michigan State University. The Michigan teams will study the effectiveness of exergames and the use of group dynamics to boost motivation to exercise.
Health Games Research investigates the quality and impact of educational games in the health sector, and is supported by an $8.25 million grant from RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio. The program is directed by University of California, Santa Barbara communication researcher Debra Lieberman, Ph.D.
"Digital games are interactive and experiential, and so they can engage people in powerful ways to enhance learning and health behavior change, especially when they are designed on the basis of well-researched strategies," said Lieberman. "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."