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Expert Alert

Video homework?

June 18, 2012

Whether you’re an Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Wii enthusiast or just like to play Angry Birds on your phone between classes, chances are every student has played the role of “gamer” at one time or another.

But, what if you went to class and your instructor gave you the opportunity to do more than just rack up points? What if educational gaming was literally your homework?

As it turns out, interactive and educational video games that simulate health care scenarios may soon be more commonplace. 

A University of Minnesota expert who can discuss the current and future impact of video games on health sciences training is:

Tom Clancy, Ph.D., clinical professor and assistant dean for faculty practice, partnerships and professional development in the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing.

According to Clancy, the industry of video games created for a purpose other than entertainment – or “serious games” – is an exploding industry.

“This technology can and in some cases is already being used to train in new hires, military personnel as well as future doctors and nurses,” said Clancy. “Via interactivity and a digital interface such as an iPad, Wii, mobile phone or computer, serious games simulate real-world situations in a virtual reality. As health care instructors we can absolutely use that to our advantage.”

Clancy, who was recently featured in Minnesota Physician for his expertise in simulating health care, is currently working with the computerized learning simulation company VitalSims and the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) to develop training that utilizes serious gaming technology for MHA member hospitals.

Due in large part to their user engagement, serious games boast a learning retention rate of around 75 percent – 60 percent higher than your average lecture can claim. In addition, the virtual nature of the game ensures that “patients” won’t be able to feel the effects of a potentially poor health care choice made by a learning student.

“Computer simulation is not new; students have been using that for years. It’s the gaming aspect in health care that is new,” Clancy said. “The competitive aspect of the game can drive motivation and serious games can be a useful adjunct to traditional types of learning such as lectures, studying and passive learning.”

To schedule an interview with Clancy or to or to invite him for a live, in-studio appearance, please contact Miranda Taylor, (612) 626-2767 or email

Expert Alert
is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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