Health Gamers

Interactive digital games are programming healthy lifestyles and behaviors.

A smoker might soon reach for a smart phone instead of a cigarette for a quick fix, breathing into the device's microphone to mimic the stimulant and relaxant effects of smoking. The project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Health Games Research program, is under study at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. The game is called Lit: A Game Intervention for Nicotine Smokers or referred to simply as Lit2Quit by its developers. Click here and watch a video of the game in action.

Re-Mission™, a video game for young people with cancer is empowering teens under treatment to stick with their medication and treatment regimens. The game features Roxxi, a gutsy, fully armed "nanobot" who destroys cancer cells with weapons like the "Radiation Gun," battles bacterial infections and manages side effects associated with cancer. HopeLab of Redwood City, CA, developer of the PC-based game, conducted a study that shows kids who play Re-Mission regularly stick to their treatments and learn about their disease faster than non-players. Click here to see a slideshow featuring the game and some of its players.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. uses interactive games as health and wellness tools and a Mayo Clinic expert notes their high scores for helping people and their overall role in good health. Click here to listen.

Cyber-cycling research, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Health Games Research program, is underway at Union College in Schenectady, NY, where adults over the age of 50 use a system that combines a stationary bicycle with exercise video game software. Click here to listen to investigators describe cyber-cycling.

Senior citizens are meeting up weekly to play Nintendo's Wii™ bowling, a video game. It's the latest craze among retirees. Not only is the game a social outlet, but it benefits this group with improvements in balance coordination and an increase in physical activity. Click here to watch seniors bowl a strike for fitness.

Scott Hatfield is multimedia editor of He can be reached at

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