The Healthcare Games Showdown, an Accelerator meets Hack-a-thon Game Jam hosted by the TMC Innovation Institute, is encouraging students from around the nation to sign up to create serious simulations and video games to assist in healthcare marketing, education, research or training efforts.
The livestream show is scheduled for July 1st - July 26, 2019. The production team includes a mix of professors from various educational institutions, professional game and technology mentors, and Emmy® and award-winning broadcast producers. The collective goal of the event is to see digital media and technology students find work doing what they love best — creating solutions to problems using digital media and technology.
“There are more students graduating with an educational degree for video game careers than ever before,” notes Dr. Chang Yun, Instructional Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Houston. “As an industry, we need to help students see value in serious games so that they realize there is more work to be found beyond entertainment studio jobs.”
What kind of games will be created? Categories include Medical Education and Training, Participatory Health, Exergaming and Fitness, Rehabilitation games, Cognitive and Emotional, and Operations and Patient Records.
“We have seen everything from VR environments to reduce anxiety, pain and PTSD in patients, to games to educate and train medical professionals, and games to help patients with chronic conditions stay on track with their treatments and rehab,” said Erik M. Halvorsen, PhD, Director, TMC Innovation Institute. “With the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, the medical gaming industry could really take off here in Houston to effect the world.”
Outside of student teams creating the game prototypes, the story of the creation process is broadcast in a livestream show.
“There is a huge demand in the collegiate community for seeing and participating in video game production,“ said Karen Snyder, MFA, creator and executive producer of the Healthcare Games Showdown™. “The livestream show format is ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ meets ‘The Apprentice’. And in this show, it is all about pushing the students through the ultimate internship while creating a serious game in the hopes they land a job.”
The event is currently seeking further team sponsors so that 48 students in six teams can create healthcare games.
“We just picked up our first team sponsor,” said Dennis Mathews, CEO of Revelation Interactive and the Houston chapter IGDA organizer. “The first team will be making an app to train nurses to dispense medications correctly at senior living facilities. What a fantastic problem for students to engage with and solve via serious simulation.”
The event includes a highly diverse group of video game professionals and instructors who will act as student mentors. Their efforts will be augmented by medical professionals offering their advise and expertise. While Houston is playing a central role in this effort, the impact of the showdown is already moving to incorporate talent from other cities and regions.
“The Healthcare Games Showdown is going to bring people together that really need to meet each other to fully benefit from each others knowledge,” said Dr. Verena Kallhoff, Manager of WorkSpaces at Health CoLab at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. “Just starting that conversation between the different players -- the gamers and the clinicians -- letting them understand how the other one thinks. I believe that’s going to lay a really great foundation for us to shift healthcare into much more of an area that will serve both the patient as well as the medical community.”
Non-profit supporters of the event include the International Game Developers Association, Houston Exponential, and College, Community and Career. Educational programs who are officially co-promoting the event include the University of Houston’s College of Technology Digital Media program and the University of Houston’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Computer Science program, along with the Art Institute of Houston.
Interested parties can assist the showdown by:
- Sponsoring a team or advertising in the show
- Mentoring students / judging their final effort
- Stream hosting the show on Twitch, Mixer, (and in certain instances, YouTube)
- Being a show ambassador and spreading word on campuses