PopCap and Games for Health announce research initiative

PopCap Games and The Games for Health Project announced a new effort to gather, evaluate, and share research on the use of digital games and cognitive health. The jointly funded effort will result in a publicly available knowledge-base summarizing both the research and market development activities associated with the possible use of digital games for maintaining healthy minds. Initial findings will be made available in early Spring 2006.

With an increasingly aging population in many developed countries the field of cognitive exercise is growing. Advocates of cognitive exercise say it is equally important for people to exercise their minds as well as their bodies. In Japan, a series of popular brain exercise games for Nintendo's DS platform have been major commercial successes. In the U.S. several companies offer mental workout products. However, it's not clear what's good and what isn't or how or whether existing underlying scientific research has been effectively applied.

The goal of the work is only to summarize past and present efforts. It is not designed to test the validity of any specific game for which there is no actual body of existing research. The project may also look at existing public perceptions of cognitive exercise and expert opinions on whether digital games offer any specific comparative advantages over other sources of cognitive exercise.

The project will run several months during which contributors to the Games for Health Project working with research advisors will scour research, interview experts in the field, and examine current products. This work will be compiled into a knowledgebase and a summary report will be developed and presented at upcoming game conferences starting in the Spring of 2006, as well as made public on the Games for Health web site.

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