About this Research Topic
Serious games can be described as a combination of education and entertainment. Recently, many researchers have been using serious games in neurodevelopmental disorders as a tool to improve a variety of different skills such as social interaction, academic skills or motor coordination. These skills range from naturally learned behaviors that are impaired in those with neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. social interaction in Autism Spectrum Disorder) to skills that are taught during schooling (e.g. reading which is impaired in almost all neurodevelopmental disorders).
Serious games offer many advantages when working with people with neurodevelopmental disorders as they usually enjoy playing video games and find them predictable and reassuring. Moreover, information communication technologies tools allow the creation of environments close to real life whilst keeping the patient in a protected area. They exist on multiple supports or platforms: computers, tabletop formats, robots, etc. which allows them to be used in many situations and places (i.e. home, care center, school).
Despite exciting preliminary results, the use of serious games in therapies remains limited; most of the current serious games have often not been validated beyond proof-of-concept studies and have limited relevance to the actual interactive conditions of real life experiences. Continued research is therefore needed to provide a definitive answer about their efficacy and generalisation to everyday life. This new found knowledge also needs to be transferred from the clinics to psychiatric education to ensure uptake of this method across the field in the future.
Moreover, there is a lack of interest in perfecting the design of serious games bringing a lot of heterogeneity between them. The implication of the player in the game is often limited, as is the possibility to personalize some aspects of it. Currently, many attributes of these games such the visual aspects, the presentation of exercises or how the difficulty increased during the game, are generally poorly described. The lack of framework in this area complicates the manner in which we evaluate the design of the different serious games. Currently, the creation of a methodology focusing on how to develop serious games that challenge and engage the patients is needed.
We therefore welcome different types of papers on this topic—including Original Research articles and Empirical Studies, Review papers, Hypothesis and Theory papers, and Opinion articles including but not limited to the following topics:
• Are serious games useful to help people with neurodevelopmental disorders to develop new skills in the different developmental areas? How can we evaluate their impact in everyday life?
• Are these games suitably adapted to people with developmental disorders? Do they allow a stronger motivation and implication in care than traditional approaches?
• How can we create serious games that are suitably adapted to people with developmental disorders? What are the steps to follow in the development of such serious games? What are the characteristics of these games that are necessary to engage patients and improve their efficiency?
• What is the potential of a hybrid model of care that combines traditional approaches with serious games?
Keywords: Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Serious games, Therapies
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