By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director
...launching the Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge... by holding a national contest that will promote healthier dietary habits among children... This challenge is open to entrepreneurs, software developers and students to design a creative and educational game targeted to kids, especially "tweens," aged 9-12.
So while the details haven't been announced (and details do matter), it's really interesting to see how the Obama administration is getting so creative in getting health messages out. Obama was the first presidential candidate to place ads in video games after all, so it's interesting to see this non-traditional approach to communication strategy play out in public health initiatives.
What kind of game do you think would get the healthy-eating message out to the 'tweens you know?
We've yet to see how well the public health community (or others, such as the sustainability movement) will be able to harness online games to get their messages out. I think they have a fair chance of success, especially if they proceed with the input of the kids and online gamers they're hoping to reach. Which explains the contest. Kudos to the USDA for reaching out to kids, gamers, software developers and others for help in crafting a tool that will resonate with the 'tween audience they're hoping to reach.
For a more detailed (and sometimes academic) take on the place where online gaming and public health meet, check out the work of Games for Health, an organization of researchers, medical professionals and game developers who "share information about the impact games and game technologies can have on health, health care and policy."