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meaningful play 2012 travel

Session Information

TitleGaming for the Greater Good
Presenter(s)Jackie Kaufman, Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology, The University of Michigan

David Chesney, Electrical Eng. and Computer Science Dept, The University of Michigan
TimeFriday, October 19, 2:30p-3:30p
LocationParlor A
DescriptionThis presentation will describe the collaborative effort of the College of Engineering and Health System at the University of Michigan to establish an ecosystem for computer game development for persons with cognitive and physical disabilities. The seeds for the efforts were planted in the 1011 academic year by focusing on persons with Cerebral Palsy. The efforts blossomed during the 2011-2012 academic year when students focused on creating software games for children with autism.

'Meaningful' Play might be described in two contexts. The first is meaningful to the player. The second is meaningful to diagnosticians whose goal is to assess status and offer therapy to children with physical and cognitive and physical disabilities. The efforts described in this presentation address the second context, while not necessarily ignoring the first.

Specifically, all games developed in the Gaming for the Greater Good (G3) initiative have an explicit goal of assessing or treating some physical or cognitive disability. During the 2010-2011 academic year, a group of students in a senior level software engineering course built an iPad app for persons with Cerebral Palsy to send and receive texts and emails. During the 2011-2012 academic year, the focus was shifted to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Focus for the upcoming academic year is on facial feature tracking, measuring limb joint angles, and cognitive assessment of patients without the ability to speak.

This work involved a collaborative effort between UM CoE, UM Health Systems, and Microsoft Corporation. Each sub team brought a unique contribution to the overall effort:
  • Microsoft Corporation: donated Microsoft Kinect sensors and supplied expertise related to the software development environment;
  • UM Health Systems: provided expertise on autism, advice on efficacy of diagnosis and treatment methods, and provided volunteer test subjects to play the games;
  • UM CoE: developed software games and apps.

To date, the collaborative effort has been a huge success over 30 games and apps have been ported from the CoE to UM Health Systems, approx. 6 students have internships jointly administered by the CoE and Health Systems, and we are currently pursuing incorporation and intellectual property protection on some of the inventions to ensure future growth.

This presentation will focus on example games that have already been developed, as well as future plans. Perhaps more importantly, we will discuss how to build a rich 'ecosystem' in which student teams can develop meaningful games for assessment and treatment of cognitive and physical disabilities.

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