Category Archives: Gaming For Health

From Minecraft to Youtube with Cyber-Seniors, A Look Behind the Scenes

The documentary Cyber-Seniors is getting special sneak previews at film festivals around the world, and at the Victoria Film Festival, it screened February 11 and the 15th. And on May 2, it will be making its theatrical premiere.

Saffron Cassiday

For the young actress turned director, Saffron Cassaday, this film marks her debut. Many stories are intertwined here: from explaining the origins of what the film title is about — an education program that started in Toronto for showing seniors how to use a computer to effectively communicate — to what these people can do with it, there is even a personal note added to this film.

When Saffron’s sister, Macaulee, and grandfather were diagnosed with cancer during production, that did not bring making this film to halt. Their journey is also chronicled. Having started two years ago, the teaching program called Cyber-Seniors was well underway. When medical issues only showed how effective online communication works for two very close family members, the ties that bind are expressed online too. But that should not stop people from meeting for real.
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The Documentary Cyber-Seniors gets a Sneak Preview in Victoria, BC!

Victoria Film Festival 2014

Tuesday, February 11th at 7:15 p.m.
Parkside Resort & Spa
810 Humboldt St.
Victoria, BC. Canada

Saturday, February 15th at 4:00 p.m.
Vic Theatre,
808 Douglas St.
Victoria, BC. Canada

World Premiere: May 2, 20104


In the documentary Cyber-Seniors, computer technology does not have to be frightening for a generation who grew up listening to the radio. Oh how the times have changed! From the Silent Generation to the Baby Boomers, not all of them have embraced the digital age, where instant communication is done with the push of a button. Not all of them even know how to turn on a computer.

Advancements in technology to improve communication can be intimidating and the older generation can have problems understanding it. Macaulee and Kascha Cassaday taught their grandparents how to use a computer in order to communicate with them, and their success at home became a project that anyone can download a manual for and start-up in their own town. Filmmaker Saffron Cassaday saw what her sisters were doing and knew it can grow into something big. She began to document what her sisters have done and what she produced is a wonderful look how the lives of an elderly generation have transformed. Viewers cannot help but smile.


Why play Minecraft when you can drink it? Some videogame ideas can get turned into a cocktail.

The seniors become even more active since they no longer feel confined to their retirement homes or feel isolated. They get love from both the youths who mentor them and from the sons, daughters or grandchildren they once could not connect with. Either they live so far away or travel back and forth is an issue in cold months. When it comes to playing videogames, each of them found the simplest of games thrilling. From Angry Birds to Minecraft, even though they may not play it regularly, at least a Youtube video can be made from it. For another senior, Scrabble on Facebook was here best way to keep her mind active and talk to her family at the same time.

This film is definitely a feel good movie that triumphs in educating the public. This film not only succeeds at showing that there is a cyber-movement afoot but also closes a generation gap. There are enjoyable moments of light-hearted humour. To see young Henri Pelletier express interest in a granddaughter is not without some laughs. This documentary is very humanitarian and more of this type of film should get made.

4½ Stars out of 5

Gamers Helping To Find Cure For AIDS


Please excuse me if this is very old news, but I’d like to spotlight another fine example of the gaming community working together for a great cause. You see in late 2011, a number of gamers solved a difficult biology puzzle that could help lead to the creation of anti-HIV drugs in the future. The discovery was done through; a website hosting a puzzle-solving game that allows players to contribute to scientific studies by playing and solving long-standing scientific puzzles.

A scientific paper published around that time cited the three gamers who solved the puzzle. The solution had to do with protein from a virus that causes AIDS; a problem strain that had scientific community stumped for over 15 years.

More information about this amazing discovery after the break. Read the rest of this entry

Growing With Timocco: Helping Children Overcome Disabilities Through Gaming


One facet of the game industry – and game development – that always fascinated me was the sector that adapts videogame technologies and trends to improve health research. You would be surprised to learn that research firms and organizations around the world devote time, resources, and manpower creating software and hardware that can help children with cognitive and motor function to cope with their daily challenges.

One such organization is Timocco, whose game “Growing With Timocco” employs motion-based control (not unlike Sony’s PlayStation Move) to help children develop learning and motor skills. Unfortunately with traditional therapy, some children may face frustration when they’re faced with slower progress; Growing with Timocco engages the children in a fun and interactive way while challenging them with games that focus on improving their personal abilities.

Learn more about Growing With Timocco and how it helps children overcome their disabilities after the break. Read the rest of this entry

Video Games Are Actually Good For Mental Health

Earlier this year, a group of Canadian scientists released a study that proved what gamers have known for more than 20 years; video games are good for mental health.

According to the scientists, exergames (or games that require the players motion aka. motion-controlled gaming) can be good for brain function. Scientists reported that the combination of concentration and physical movement (required from many motion-enabled games) slows down the brain’s cognitive decline. Cognitive functions decline as people age, so the additional concentration and focus required to be successful at these games help stave off degeneration.

The study also shows that people who played these exergames proved to be physically healthier than those who do not. In addition to that, the study shows that these games increased one’s decision-making abilities (also known as executive function).

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