The positive side of video games

Hi everyone! I’m taking a break from my normal style of posting to do one really important thing.

I wanted to introduce myself.

For all of my graduate school and into starting my new career, I have hidden behind the pseudonym Lissanna. For several years, I overall have talked very little on this blog about what I do on a day-to-day basis outside of the World of Warcraft. However, today, this is all about to change.

My name is Dr. Elisabeth Whyte (though my friends call me Lisa). I am a post-doctoral research assistant and lecturer at Penn State, in the Laboratory of Developmental Neuroscience (see more info about our autism research here). My research focuses on how children and adolescents with autism understand language and how they process information from faces (eg. recognizing people or understanding emotional expressions). In addition, I am interested in understanding how to design interventions to help improve these skills in children and adolescents with Autism.

Video Games as Intervention Tools

There is now a growing field of research on “serious games,” where video game elements are incorporated into the design of health and education programs. These game elements include a sophisticated interface that is still user-friendly, increasing levels of difficulty, as well as a storyline and plot tied to the educational objectives. These games have been used for helping kids with cancer be better about taking their medications, they have been used to teach kids about healthy eating, and have been used in a variety of other applications. However, the field of Autism research has not done quite a good enough job in their use of appropriate video game elements in creating their interventions. Despite the bad reputation that video games have, it is actually possible to use elements from video games to make Autism interventions more fun and effective! As someone who has an expertise in both video games and autism interventions, I have a really unique position to make a difference in changing how interventions for children and adolescents with autism are designed.

But I need your help to do it!

Today, my research lab at Penn State has started a crowdfunding project, as part of the Scifund Challenge along with many other researchers from a wide variety of science backgrounds. Crowdfunding is something many video gamers should be familiar with, as it has been pretty heavily adopted by the video game industry. With how difficult it is to secure grant funding for science research, I decided that a unique approach to creating interventions should be accompanied by a unique approach to funding, as well.

My science crowdfunding project uses the Rockethub platform, where we ask for donations from you, in exchange for some exciting rewards related to my autism research and video games! At the end of our crowdfunding initiative, the money goes to my University and is earmarked for our lab to use to fund our autism intervention research. Please take some time to visit our Rockethub page to learn more about the specifics of my autism research project. Please also spread the word and tell your friends and family! Thank you for your support!

 
Project Update

We’re now on Day 2 of the project. We’ve had an amazing amount of positive feedback about the project. We have had a total of $625, which is a really amazing start! We still have a long way to go! Thank you to all the amazing gamers who have donated to the project so far, and are proving that gamers can do amazing things! If you haven’t had a chance to look at the site and help contribute, there is still time!

16 Comments

  1. Posted November 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see people in the scholarly community making a difference in people’s lives through the appropriate use of technology; especially gaming! It’s always great to see the faces behind the blogs I’ve been reading and enjoying, as well. I love to see the correlation between in-game healers and real-world healers, as well. :D Nothing but the best of luck to you and your fellows in this endeavor!

    • Lissanna
      Posted November 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      thanks!

  2. Destroyall
    Posted November 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Your doing Awesome work here !!!!

    • Lissanna
      Posted November 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Thank you!

  3. Jacquelin Powers
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi!
    I just wanted to let you how awesome this is, the work that your doing. I’m a mom of two wonderful boys. I also play wow, and have been a resto Druid for 6 years. My husband told me that your doing a study of wow and autism, he called me up from work and said, ” Do you remember that girl who is a resto Druid and she writes the blog that you were reading,” I nodded, “she’s doing a study on autism!” Then my mouth dropped to the floor. I’m autistic as well as my younger four year old son Liam. Liam is high functioning but non verbal. He is a huge wow fan, and loves to play mine and his dads toons! So from all of us in the spectrum, thank you very much!

    • Lissanna
      Posted November 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Jacquelin!

  4. Mike Kelley
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    My son has Asperger and where we live there are not alot of resources available…he was 12 before being diagnosed. He is a gamer and it seems to calm him, plus it has helped his hand/eye coordination. Thank you for the work you do. If he had been diagnosed earlier, maybe his quality of life might have been a bit better!

    • Lissanna
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jjc
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    I very quickly realized that wow was very good for training myself for social interaction. I am an adult with ASD and I found after years of playing wow that it finally clicked. My brain was able to do more than it could socially. I was finally able to connect to people and understand the concepts of large group dynamics. It is truly amazing. This should not be viewed as just important research for children but that adults benefit from it too.

    • Lissanna
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      I have heard similar things from other adults. I actually addressed that issue in the WOW Insider 15 minutes of fame interview here: http://wow.joystiq.com/2012/11/30/well-known-druid-blogger-lissanna-lowers-the-boom-kin-on-autism/

      • jjc
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        What i found was interesting was the ability to continually reset, I would get kicked from a guild then i could turn around and reenter the same guild as someone different and try again. Something life would not offer me. This allowed me to experiment on how to function in large groups without being rejected.

        • Lissanna
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          That is a really creative idea!

  6. Posted December 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Have you ever heard of Dr. Clotaire Rapaille? He was doing research about autism and emotional response in the 70’s, and translated that to what he calls the “reptilian response”. He applies his research to marketing, but it is relevant to other sciences as well, so maybe you’d find some of his research interesting?

    Great blog, I have enjoyed it for some time; I think this is the first time I have ever commented though. Best luck with your campaign!

    • Lissanna
      Posted December 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Archivist. I haven’t really followed Dr. Rapaille’s work. I’ll take a look.

      • Posted December 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Just struck me as very similar in some regards to what you are doing. If nothing else, his book, The Culture Code is an interesting read (as if grad students have much free time for pleasure reading!)

        • Lissanna
          Posted December 6, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the reading suggestion. :)