By Sarah-Marie Lange
Exergames, i.e., computer games designed for therapeutic purposes rather than fun, are a fast growing field within the computer industry, and students from several countries have been developing exergaming prototypes together in the context of an EU-funded project.
The project week at the H-BRS was organised by Professor Dr. Irene Rothe, who also supervised the project in Saint Augustin. Together with their fellow students from the H-BRS, the foreign students prepared presentations of the prototypes they had designed last year in Amsterdam.
Because the development of exergames involves know-how from various disciplines such as Computer Sciences, Medicine, Game Design and Electronics Engineering, the students had been specifically chosen from the same disciplines. Following a lively, interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge, all of the students contributed something to the presentation.
Piloting planes in the virtual park
A smartphone with a peculiar case, fresh from the 3D printer: the casing quickly converts the smartphone into a digital camera, the idea being to encourage the elderly to get out in the fresh air, take a few snapshots and show them around as soon as they get home.
Another group presents a virtual reality game, in which players make their way through a park tackling various tasks along the way, such as piloting a plane from the ground. Like the digital camera, this prototype is designed to encourage users to get active.
The third presentation consists of a motion-sensing board with the aid of which a ball can be manoeuvred around obstacles in a computer game: the prototype is designed for people with restricted movement and whose therapy may be helped by this game.
See you again in Trondheim
After work, the lecturers and students paid a visit to the chocolate museum in Cologne then went on for a closer look around the cathedral city. The next time the students meet, it will be at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
Exergames are a sub-field of the field of Serious Games, the objective of which is to develop computer games that are not only fun to play, but which also have a serious therapeutic purpose. An example of a serious-games application are computer games with add-on devices for brain-damaged patients, who need to train their sense of balance or strengthen the muscles in their hands.