Partner Interview: Stephen Wilson of the University of Bedfordshire
1). What is your name, position, and where do you work?
My name is Stephen Wilson, I am a research assistant working for the University of Bedfordshire on developing the serious game for adults. Our university is a project partner of the iManagerCancer consortium and we are based in Luton, England.
2). Where were you based prior to working here?
Prior to my role in research I worked as a technician in the University’s IT labs. My focus during my time there was classroom support, nearly exclusively running practicals in the areas of games development and graphics and supporting the lecturers in developing and delivering this content. During this time, I frequently was seconded by local businesses to develop content for serious games and training applications.
3). What is your role and what work do you do within the iManageCancer project?
Within the iManageCancer project I work on the serious game for adult cancer patients. The game’s purpose is to help patients view their disease fight from a new perspective as well as provide a fun and challenging activity.
My personal role sees me as designer and developer, I personally created most of the graphical assets and effects within the game as well as programming the game’s client-side application intended for Android mobile devices.
4). How does your work relate to the work of other partners?
The serious game for adults is loosely integrated into the iManageCancer platform by design, the game can run completely independently from any other application or service the platform provides. The reasons for this loose coupling is so that a user can play the game without an account or internet connection.
The serious game for adults can then be linked to an iManageCancer account which unlocks additional functionality and rewards for players, as well as provide additional data for their personal health records about their usage and experience.
Users with linked accounts will have access to rewards based on their activity which is logged through other applications within the platform, as well as access to the social mechanics.
5). What do you think the biggest challenges will be for your work throughout the project?
The biggest challenge for a serious game for adults with such an important subject as cancer was how do we keep it fun and relevant. The issue then grows increasingly complicated when you consider the reality that people’s ideas about fun are subjective and varied.
The serious game for adults has gone through a few design interactions since its inception, eventually we arrived at a simulation game focusing on time and resource management.
The next biggest issue was: how do we make a game related to a specific cancer patient? It was not feasible to make a different game for each type of cancer, and it certainly couldn’t have gameplay that made uninformed medical recommendations to the users. We solved this issue by changing the context of the game so that a user helped someone else within the game.
6). What do you expect will be one of the most interesting things to come out the project once it has finished?
This project has the potential to provide a cancer patient with greater understanding and control of their cancer and subsequent treatment. This empowerment alone has the potential to improve the psycho-emotional state of a patient.
Another interesting outcome will be the results of the serious games, this research may add important understanding of the effects and appropriate use of such tools in a relatively young field of study.