Contest seeks games as Rx for health

Contest seeks ideas for games that promote improving people's health.

Game visionaries, have you ever imagined a title in which superhuman feats are rewarded with lower blood pressure? Or one in which tossing a pack of virtual cigarettes lands players more loot? This could be your lucky day.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced a nationwide contest to promote the development of computer and video games that improve people's health. The Games for Health Competition will dole out three prizes totaling $30,000--one for a working prototype and two for storyboard/design treatments.

Ben's Game logo

An example of a computer game for health: "Ben's Game," conceived of by Ben Duskin, a 9-year-old leukemia patient who thought kids facing similar struggles needed something to help them battle their illness while relieving the pain and stress of treatment. Eric Johnston, a software developer working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, turned Ben's plan into a reality, involving Ben in every step of development.

In the action-adventure game, players learn about managing chemotherapy while skateboarding through a virtual course to collect "shields" that protect them from common side effects and pharmaceuticals to kill "monster cells."

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation competition is open to game makers over the age of 18, including independent and collegiate developers, casual gamers and organizations that don't publish commercial titles. Entries will be accepted from now through April 1, 2007.

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