Our Center

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Yale Center for Health & Learning Games

The newly created Yale Center for Health & Learning Games builds and evaluates videogames that prevent adverse outcomes and promote healthy lives in youth and young adults, using the most rigorous scientific methods available. With extensive expertise in behavioral science and health behaviors, our team pioneers innovative methods that embed established behavioral change theories (e.g. social learning theory, the theory of planned behavior, and prospect theory) and ensures that our videogame interventions have substantial impacts on target outcomes. Our approach targets youth and young adults at risk for critical public health and social issues, including sexually transmitted infections (STISs), HIV, drug and alcohol abuse, youth violence, and obesity. Given the prevalence of such risks that face youths today, and our niche in such understudied interventions, the Center will have a have a powerful and sustained impact in the years to come.

THE CENTER’S VISION

We aim to establish the premier research program in ‘serious games.’ Serious games are defined as videogames designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. Using these games, we will develop effective interventions and novel systems to analyze gameplay data as a proxy for real-world behavior and establish best practices for the field. The Center will serve as a hub for researchers at Yale and beyond to translate their research in the areas of health, education, and social learning games for knowledge acquisition and behavior change.

INITIATVES AND GOALS

Building on the many successes of the play2PREVENT Lab and based on the exemplary model of our first videogame PlayForward, the Center will expand its focus and continue building a portfolio of theory-driven, evidence-based serious videogame interventions for youth and young adults; emphasizes the use of theoretical constructs and scientific evidence to build videogame interventions and metrics-driven analyses of target outcomes; train and educate the next generation of serious games researchers; establish best practices in the field; cultivate partnerships with academic, industry/organizations, and government stakeholders, offering consultation and guidance and collaboration.

TRAINING AND EDUCATION

The Center currently provides structured internships to students and trainees ranging from high school students to post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty with both didactic and field research training.