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Games in

Scientific research

A game as a research tool: why does it work?

Examples: gaming in research projects

Designing together: co-creation and design thinking

Want to know whether technology and games can help you in your research? Just ask! It’s free and gives a lot of clarity.





    Games in scientific research: why is it such a good combination?

    Collecting data

    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.

    Serious game as a research tool: inspiring examples

    The Skating game – balance training

    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.

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    valpreventie ouderen

    During the study, we noticed that people played the game even more than they were asked to.

    Mike van Diest
    Former Phd student, University of Groningen

    eZoon – 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.

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    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.

    Dr Nienke Beerlage-de Jong
    Assistent Professor, University of Twente

    Gaming for faster recovery after IC admission

    Recovery after admission to the Intensive Care Unit 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? We are currently investigating this together with Lise Beumeler, PhD candidate at the University of Groningen. We support her with hardware, demos and technical advice during her care innovation research. 

    Techniques such as virtual reality and sensors can relieve the burden on care and increase therapy compliance, if they are developed from the start based on the needs and possibilities of the target group. To put it bluntly: as outsiders we can agree that virtual reality is super cool and that there is therefore a need for a VR solution – but what if the recovering IC patient isn’t comfortable using this device? That is why, together with Lise, we started testing a lot with recovering patients in the Medical Center Leeuwarden. The development is still in full swing.

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    games research

    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.

    drs. Lise Beumeler
    PhD-student at University of Groningen, Campus Fryslan

    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 strengths 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.

    Wil je hier vrijblijvend nog eens wat dieper op ingaan?

    This is Johan. Expert in the field of co-creation, design thinking and research. Johan recently became a father, so a cup of coffee is always welcome. Feel free to give him a call, send him an email or add him on Linkedin.