Certainly, when most people think about computer games, they don’t equate them with health and fitness. Some academic institutions like Champlain College are trying to change that. Computer gaming designers are looking to develop games aimed at helping people to improve their health.
For instance, one company, Hoozinga Game Media, is working together with the Vermont Health Department to promote a new game that is intended to help smokers to quit. As Amanda Crispel, the program director of game design, game art and animation at Champlain and the CEO of Hoozinga Game Media, explained, “Khemia, which is Latin for “alchemy,” is designed to give smokers looking to kick the habit something to do with their minds and hands for the five to ten minutes a cigarette craving typically lasts.”
Similarly, at Columbia University’s Teachers College, a team of professors and students has developed a game to stop smokers. The game, for mobile devices, has players breathing into the device’s microphone to mimic smoking.
One researcher, Debra Lieberman, from UCSB agrees that computer games can become valuable tools for dealing with health problems. She cautions, however, the games need to have a strong backing in research both in the design and in the follow through to see if they are working.