Games in Scientific Research
How does it work?
8D Games develops serious games and gamifications in every shape and size. Everything from board games to virtual reality experiences, we got the graphic and technical expertise within our team. The real challenge? Designing the exact right tool that the research requires.
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Games in scientific research
Why is it such a good combination?
Why are digital resources – such as games – so valuable as a research tool? First of all, this has to do with the generation of data. A digital tool can collect all kinds of data about the player and thus provide valuable input for your research. As a technical partner, we ensure that the data can be shared securely and anonymously with researchers and practitioners.
The process as a research tool
Developing a serious game is a very social and research-oriented process. That is why the process of game development is often used to better understand the target group and thus arrive at better solutions. Co-creation, design thinking and iterative work are central to this. These are methods that often fit in seamlessly with the goals of qualitative research.
The Skating Game
We developed The Ice Skating Game in collaboration with professor dr. Claudine Lamoth and PhD student Mike Diest. It’s essentially balance training in a playful form, which makes it easier for patients to keep motivated. The movements of the patients are registered through the Kinect. Based on this data, the practitioner can tailor the exercises exactly to the patients’ needs.
After completion of the research and development process of the Ice Skating Game, we remained involved to think about ways in which the developed product could reach the end users. Together with researchers, we always try to ensure that scientific knowledge finds its way to improve human lives.
“During the study, we noticed that people played the game even more than they were asked to.“
PhD Candidate Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
“Thanks to their ‘fun’ factor, games can be a very nice way to start the dialogue in an accessible way and in this way stimulate multidisciplinary cooperation. If those games can also be played online, any logistical and organizational barriers will also be removed. For our project, that was the perfect combination.“
Understanding complex dilemmas
We were a technical partner for the University of Twente in the eZoon research project, in which we were responsible for the technical and graphical realisation of a serious game about complex decision-making. In this case decision-making about ‘zoonoses’, diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
The game helps players to understand all the different motives and stakes that are at play when there’s an outbreak of zoonose. After playing, users get an overview of their position on matters – and how this position relates to the stakes and interests in other fields of work. This increases mutual understanding between actors from different fields of work when dealing with a complex dilemma.
After eZoon, we have remained a technical partner in various other research projects at the University of Twente, such as Tina’s Handenwereld.
The design process as a research tool
Co-creation and Design Thinking
The development process as a research instrument
Developing a serious game is a very social process. Understanding the intended users plays an important role in this. Research on the target group often provides valuable insights that can be used more broadly than just in a (digital) end product. That’s great, because in this way we can build a bridge between science, business and applications that really benefit the end user.
The strenghts of designing together
In the development and design process of a game it is necessary to listen very carefully to the experiences of the end user. We do this on the basis of co-creation and design thinking. Methods that have also proven their worth in the research world, but are often very time-consuming. We would like to encourage collaboration and knowledge exchange in this area, so that the knowledge gained extends beyond a single sector.
MCL Rehabilitation Game
Gaming for faster recovery after IC admission
Recovery after being admitted to Intensive Care often takes months and sometimes even years. How can this rehabilitation process be completed as pleasantly and effectively as possible, and what role can technology and gaming play in this? This question was at the heart of researcher Lise Beumeler’s PhD project. In 2023, she successfully completed her research for the Leeuwarden Medical Centre and RuG Campus Fryslân, with national attention for the results. During the research project, 8D Games was a technical partner. In particular, colleague Johan van der Meulen was closely involved; he can call himself co-author of Beumeler’s recently published thesis ‘I See You: unravelling pathways of recovery after critical illness.‘
Techniques such as virtual reality and sensors can ease the burden of care and increase adherence, provided they are developed from the outset based on the needs and capabilities of the target group. A lot of attention was paid to this from the start during this research project. For instance, by first testing all kinds of hardware and games together with both patients and ICU staff. Contrary to expectations, it turned out that virtual reality in particular made patients really enthusiastic and – more importantly – effectively shifted their attention from ‘rehabilitation’ to ‘playing’.
The collaboration resulted in a VR prototype with infrared sensors that supports patients in the rehabilitation process. In the game, players work on a puzzle and are challenged to reach ever so slightly further for the missing pieces. In doing so, they make exactly the arm movements that are conducive to recovery.
“While playing the games, the patients were much less aware of their complaints, so they moved more freely. Shifting the focus clearly offers opportunities. In this case, the name ‘serious gaming’ is incorrect: it makes the exercises less serious and takes the sting out of it.“
Promovenda Rijksunversiteit Groningen (Campus Fryslân)