REPOST: Virtual Reality Is A Growing Reality In Health Care

The virtual reality (VR) phenomenon is transcending the realms of video games and entertainment as it is now being seen to be just as useful in the health care industry. This Forbes article explains how this is going to be possible:

Pictured here at the Games for Change festival is Kognito’s simulation game. (Photo: Courtesy of Ron Goldman/Kognito)


Back to reality … sort of. Recently, I attended the Games for Change Festival at the Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City. The 14th installment of this annual event that brings together people who make video games to help society, people, and health also included a one-day Virtual Reality (VR) for Change Summit on August 2. And this VR Summit showed just how much of a reality VR for health care is becoming.


As Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change, explained, “The VR portion of the Festival is new. The Games for Change Festival started with 40 or so people in a conference room who realized that video games offer a way to connect with audiences and reach audiences that are tough to reach. Now we have over 1100 people attending.”


The festival concluded with a cocktail reception at VR World NYC that included VR games, sushi, and beer…which for some people is the definition of Nirvana.


Indeed, the prospect of playing video games to help people may seem sort of like eating healthy molten lava chocolate cake. Combining indulgent fun with health benefits is just desserts for anyone who was told while growing up that playing video games is bad for you. Previously, many gamers have had to argue the indirect benefits of playing such as improving hand eye coordination (as described in this study published in Psychological Science) and problem solving skills while stealing cars (Grand Theft Auto), gathering abnormally large mushrooms (Super Mario Brothers), avoiding a massive gorilla who seems to have an endless supply of barrels (Donkey Kong), or saving the Universe (Halo). Note: the saving the universe argument doesn’t work with parents.


But now there are more and more video games explicitly being designed to improve health. For example, I wrote previously for Forbes about how Amblyotech and Ubisoft are introducing Dig Rush to help kids with “lazy eye” or amblyopia. Now, while there isn’t yet a “rush” to develop video games for health (certainly compared to the much larger overall video game market), efforts are growing.


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