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!
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!