MET:Video Games in Health Care Education

From UBC Wiki

This page was originally authored by Ronna Hoglund (Hale) (Winter 2011).

Video Games used in Health Care Education refers specifically to those used in training health care professionals in their particular field of study. Most often, the video games used for this purpose closely resemble the workplace. Video games can also be used to educate patients on specific health related issues. For example, video games can be used to restore movement, reduce anxiety prior to surgery, and educate patients about diabetes. [1] Video games used in health care or patient education are created and/or used to entertain, promote understanding as well as improve student performance and patient outcomes.

File:Video games healthcare education.jpg
Video Games in Health Care Education.


Educational video games have evolved throughout the years beginning with "Edutainment" in the 1980s, 1990s and continuing on into the early 2000s. Serious Games soon found favour in academia and we are now set to enter a new era of video games used in education that has been termed "Smart Gaming" (Young, 2011).


Edutainment:Dr.Kawashima's Body and Brain Exercises

Edutainment involves the student in play and teaches them at the same time. Edutainment type video games tend to rely on "factoids" for the education component of the game. Both the education and entertainment values of these types of games are questionable. Not only is the content quickly forgotten by the student, but the play provided by the game is sometimes not sufficient to keep gamers engaged (Young, 2011; Rice, 2007b). New games such as "Dr. Kawashima's Body and Brain Exercises" may be more playful and entertaining than its predecessors, however, its educational value in school may still be limited. This particular Edutainment type game may have a potential value in healthcare education, such as patient rehabilitation.

Serious Games

Serious Game:Burn Center

Serious games, like the Burn Center, are considered the second phase of video games in education (Young, 2011). These types of games have been acknowledged for offering a real world view with the contributions of scholars and professionals in the field while at the same time being criticized for not being much fun. Although there is certainly a place in the classroom for serious video games, such as these which closely resemble the actual work environment (simulation), students may not be willing to devote much time to playing them without being forced. In other words, students may not see a big difference between playing this type of video game and doing traditional school work.

Smart Gaming

Smart Gaming:Re-Mission

"Smart Gaming" is a new term possibly coined by Jeffrey Young (2011). Young refers to Smart Gaming as the emergence of new serious games that focus a lot more on play and a little less on education. Others have recognized the need for less serious serious games that promote creativity, enhance communication technology skills, and provide the ability to problem solve, among other benefits not routinely recognized in traditional schooling and yet so necessary in the workplace (Abrams, 2009; Annetta, 2008; Jackson, 2009; Torrente, et al. 2009). Regardless of whether or not educators adopt the new name (Smart Gaming) video games used in education must change to create a more even balance between play and education in order to motivate and engage students in their use. The educational benefits of even the most educational game will not be realized if students are only half-heartedly using them. Truly Smart Gaming will require careful attention be paid to both game design and its use in the classroom. "Re-Mission" is a video game created for teenagers and young adults suffering from cancer. This video game resembles many other games marketed for teens and is in fact rated "T" containing crude humour, fantasy violence, and mild language. Smart Gaming does not necessarily prescribe to these attributes.

Learning Theories

Well designed video games (Smart Gaming) incorporate aspects of several learning theories that engage and motivate students and in turn propel them to a higher order level of thinking (Annetta, 2008; Rice, 2007b). Learning theories evident in video game play include:

  1. Active (Experiential) Learning – “learning by doing”
  2. Constructivism – generating knowledge and meaning from experience and ideas
  3. Constuctionism – “learning by making”

Important Elements

In order for any video game to be successful, certain criteria in the game design must be met. Annetta (2008) proposes that video games used in education have the potential to offer new media literacies. The new media literacies include:

  1. Play – capacity to experiment with surroundings to problem-solve
  2. Performance – ability to adopt alternative identities for discovery and improvisation
  3. Simulation – ability to interpret and construct models of real-world processes
  4. Appropriation – ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
  5. Multitasking – ability to scan the environment and shift focus as needed
  6. Distributed cognition – ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
  7. Collective intelligence – ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal
  8. Judgement – ability to evaluate reliability and credibility of different information sources
  9. Transmedia navigation – ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
  10. Networking – ability to search for, synthesize and disseminate information

Kinzie & Joseph (2008) studied the gender gap in video game play and assert that incorporating different types of activity in a video game will help narrow that gap. By including different types of Play (active, explorative, problem-solving, strategic, social and creative) the appeal of video gaming to both genders may be increased.

See Also


1.Video Games for Patient Education


  • Abrams, S. (2009). A gaming frame of mind: digital contexts and academic implications. Educational Media International, 46 (4), 335-347. doi: 10.1080/09523980903387480
  • Annetta, L. (2008). Video games in education: why they should be used and how they are being used. Theory Into Practice, 47, 229-239. doi: 10.1080/00405840802153940
  • Clark, A., & Ernst, J. (2009). Gaming in technology education. The Technology Teacher, February, pp. 21-26.
  • Jackson, J. (2009). Game-based teaching: what educators can learn from videogames. Teaching Education, 20 (3), 291-304. doi: 10.1080/10476210902912533
  • Kato, P. (2010). Video games in health care: closing the gap. Review of General Psychology, 14 (2), 113-121. doi: 10.1037/a0019441
  • Kinzie, M. & Joseph, D. (2008). Gender differences in game activity preferences of middle school children: implications for educational game design. Education Technology Research and Development, 56, 643-663. doi: 10.1007/s11423-007-9076-z
  • Spiegelman, M., Glass, R. (2008). Games and web 2.0: a winning combination for millennials. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 37 (3), 273-289. doi.10.2190/ET.37.3.d

External Links

Interview with Will Wright

Burn Center

Serious Games

Video Games in Medical Education


Video Games in Health Care Education

Dr. Kawashima's Body and Brain Exercises