Briefing paper – Games, adults and health sciences

Games related to the health sciences have been implemented for many, quite distinctive purposes. In this briefing paper two different aspects are discussed: a short orientation of those purposes that are highly present in the literature, i.e. games used in fall prevention and cognitive training, and secondly one of our own experiments regarding learning in health sciences.

You can find the full version here: Games, adults and health sciences

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APA Vs. Teaching Games

On first site, adapted physical activity (APA) and teaching games for older adults don’t have any common bases. But we quickly discovered that both topics are all about being creative and finding the right adaptations in methods and materials in order to reach a certain goal. Achieving a physical, cognitive or social objective while playing a game or doing an activity is often more effective and fun.


The opening speech by Bernd Remmele.

APA - Teaching Games for older adults

One of the slides of Marcus Geeraerts’ presentation


Our visit to the Computerspiele Museum

The Gambaloa final meeting was a wonderful experience,  hope to see you all soon again, Marcus

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Play Where You Are! – Playfulness in Everyday Spaces

IMAG0645It always surprises me how many angles and approaches there are to the idea of play, and the Gambaloa project meeting in Berlin was a perfect example. Researchers and practitioners with a background in physiotherapy, education, business and game design all presented game-based work from their subject areas, sparking a lively debate on the many cross-over points. As an urban Geographer with an interest in experimentation and creativity in the city, and a player-designer of pervasive games, my own focus lies on the concept of playfulness in the context of everyday space. This is perhaps a bit broader and less clearly defined than ‘games’, but I consider play a fundamental part of any game. We play games – we want to experience moments of playful activity, joy and immersion within them.

After all the great practical applications and design ideas around games for adults, my presentation took a more conceptual approach. It considered different examples of play in urban spaces, and the dynamics that make this play possible in such an everyday environment. The two main ideas here are enchantment and improvisation: enchantment as the little spark of the extraordinary that hides in the most mundane objects and spaces, and which we can experience if we are open to it; improvisation as the ability to bring different objects and materials into new and unexpected relations with each other. Although abstract as ideas, I think those are important inspirations for game-based learning and for the challenge to create play environments in often very un-playful spaces.


To show how this might work, we turned the rest of the session into a little experiment. I first asked the group to take a few minutes to look around the room and get acquainted with the objects and materials around. I then split them into four ‘families’ and gave them the following scenario: they are medieval clans at war, and they need to build a missile launcher or catapult with whatever they can find to attack each other. The groups quickly went to work – some discussing a strategy, others collecting as many materials as possible. We had cables, a white board, jackets and pens involved in sometimes adventurous contraptions, which rapidly evolved with a process of trial-and-error. While I am not sure there was a winner, it was fascinating to watch the transformation of the space that took place in those few minutes. The conference room with a standard seating arrangement turned into a playful space of movement, activity, mess and laughter.

This is not sufficient for a good game, or for a real learning context. But it is a call for spontaneity and open-mindedness – sometimes we need very little to play, just play where you are!

Jana Wendler

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Briefing Paper – Game-based Learning in Business and Economics Education

Capitalism is a system that enshrines the gambler as an essential part of its operation.(D. Graeber)
The briefing paper argues that there are structural similarities between the fields of economy and gaming that integrate topical and motivational aspects. Particularly competition as a deep-rooted anthropological trait is important for playing games and for acting in the economic sphere.
Further the paper tries to develop a classification of economic games based on the distinction between on the one hand business, i.e. structures/processes in a company, micro-economics, i.e. individual actions on a market, and macro-economics, i.e. functional market-based relations between aggregates, and on the other hand between decision and design as fields, where relevant similarities show up.
classification of economic games
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Gambaloa: Older is Young Enough

Having followed the Gambaloa project with interest for some time, I was honoured to be invited to give a keynote at the project’s final conference in Berlin.

Held at the Haus der Wirtschaft, at the west end of the Tiergarten, the conference made the most of its location in this fabulous city, mixing papers and workshops with outdoor excursions.

I opened the first day with a keynote which reviewed existing data and trends relating to older adults (and ‘mature students’) in games and education, then considered the redesign of an existing simple contextual game I’d designed for the Museums Computer Group (Curate-a-fact) with older learners in mind – and we all tested this out by playing a fast (and hotly contested) game, Bernd Remele’s team winning with a suitably arty ‘I/eye’ theme fitting the Berlin ethos. Briefing papers from the three partner institutions came next, covering their work on health and business themes.

Before dinner, we visited the Computerspielemuseum – a guided tour, followed by a playful exploration of the working exhibits (Marcus Geeraerts – one of the fabulous student representatives from KUL along with Lien Van Der Stock and Evelien Luts – coming off worse in a torture console, whilst myself and Nicola Whitton gleefully discovered an original Monkey Island, and battled Nathalie Charlier at Gauntlet).


The following morning we heard a pair of fascinating papers from Vero Vanden Abeele and Marcus Geeraerts – Vero demonstrating some of the digital games her company has designed for elderly users; while Marcus helped us to realise what games mean to those with physical or learning disabilities – and how adjustments can be made to ensure everyone can participate and enjoy games and sports at either leisure or more competitive levels.

Gamestorm then took us through a 90-minute rapid game development exercise, which produced at least three very playable board games (my favourites being the quacking frogs on a wall, the rather risqué Blowdown, and Lien and Bernd acting out Push-Push in human form). It was a great exercise, but our creativity didn’t end there. Jana Wendler ( ) took us through the slightly subversive world of pervasive games, and then transformed the conference hall into a medieval trebuchet battle between warring houses – who ever knew bottle tops and white boards were such dangerous weapons?

2013-06-27 15.17.26

We finished the day with a ‘pimped up’ bicycle tour across Berlin – myself and Clare Hamshire taking the tandem (and going through a rapid shared learning experience in doing so!) – travelling through the beautiful Tiergarten before some of the famous – and not so famous – sights of the city. A delicious Thai meal followed, accompanied by a range of word-and-action games around the table, and there was much discussion of games, learning and other shared interests long into the night.

Overall, the event was a great example of how and why games can be used in learning for all ages and abilities – the varied mix of activities, the city and (most importantly) the fabulous people making it a very rewarding experience.

Alex Moseley

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WHL games survey

Within the gambaloa context we conducted a small survey at the WHL in 2012.

At the WHL we use different (business) games within different Master courses.

Overall our students are rather critical in relation to the perceived utility of theses games – and interestingly this attitude hardly differs between the different games/courses, though they are completely different.

For a rough overview on the results have a look at this file: whl game survey

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Final gambaloa conference – Older is Young Enough

gambaloa will hold its final conference in Berlin from 26th to 27th of June


Main topics of conference are:

– Keynote by Alex Moseley (University of Leicester): Games for grown-ups: using non-digital games to create adult learning contexts

– Topical presentations: motivation, health, business

– Discussion of future research agenda


Physical Venue: Haus der Wirtschaft – Am Schillertheater 2 – 10625 Berlin

Main parts of the conference will also be made accessible online.


Please contact Bernd Remmele ( for registration to the conference – physical and online.

Invitation letter to: final gambaloa conference

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