The University of California in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Pioneer Portfolio have been working on a fantastic health games site this year for their national program Health Games Research. Health Games Research funds research to advance the innovation and effectiveness of digital games and game technologies to improve health.
Just recently they launched the bulk of their website content in the form of a database, the Health Games Research Database, which has been getting quite a bit of attention these last few days. Why? Because it’s the largest database of health games and related conferences, organizations, publications, and resources to date. As of today they boast:
When I asked Dr. Debra Lieberman, director of Health Games Research and communication researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara about the undertaking, here’s what she had to say.
HG: Why did you decide to create this massive health games database?
DL: We decided to create the Health Games Research Database because there are so many people who are looking for information about health games and related research. For example, for the past 15 years I have received at least 40 or 50 requests per month from people who want to talk with me to learn more about research, publications, behavioral health strategies, design, development, publishing, marketing, people, events, game titles, funding opportunities,and business ventures related to health games. It is impossible to respond to all the requests and also get my own work done, and the number of requests has been increasing as the field continues to grow. I wanted to develop the database so I could point people to a dynamic resource they could explore to find the information they need.
HG: How many people did it take to make this database a reality?
DL: The information in the database was gathered and organized by the Health Games Research staff with the help of 10 student assistants at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I especially want to thank our team’s project manager for the database, Erica Biely, and the deputy director at Health Games Research, Maria Chesley Fisk, for their diligent work and valuable ideas. Erica has been the driving force of this project and we appreciate her many contributions.
HG: I assume aggregating all of this information was costly due to the number of staff required. What was your major source of funding?
DL: We are very grateful to the Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, led by Pioneer team leader and senior program officer Paul Tarini, for their financial and collegial support for this project.
HG: As we all know, most of the information on health games is pretty scattered. Can people make suggestions for additions to the database that may have been missed?
DL: We welcome community input to the database. It has a Recommendation Form where people can suggest new content or revisions to existing content. There are now more than 1,200 items in the database and we plan to add a lot more, and we would like to hear from our colleagues in a variety of fields who have more items to suggest.
HG: What an amazing accomplishment–congratulations! How does it feel now that the database is complete?
DL: The three of us are very excited to have the database to use ourselves and to share with our colleagues in the wide-ranging health games field. My hope is that the database will spark new ideas and collaborations in the field that will help it grow in constructive and exciting directions.
On a personal note, I just wanted to extend my gratitude to Dr. Lieberman for answering my questions about their exciting database. As you can imagine, Dr. Lieberman is an extremely busy individual, but she always takes the time to respond, regardless of how small or large the request. The Health Games Research team was also kind enough to list our little blog on their resources page from the very beginning which has really assisted us in creating a dynamic, diverse reading audience. Thank you so much Dr. Lieberman and team!