The untapped potential of Games for Health in times of crises. A critical reflection

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  • Kevin Dadaczynski
  • Daniel Tolks
  • Kamil J. Wrona
  • Timothy Mc Call
  • Florian Fischer

Given its promising role in public health to address hard to reach population groups, game-based interventions (i.e., Games for Health, G4H) have experienced growing interest in recent years. Therefore, it is surprising that they have played only a minor role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, the aim of this paper is to reflect the opportunities and challenges of G4H especially during the pandemic but also with regard to future health crises. As commercial video games (i.e., those that primarily aim to entertain its users) were often used to deal with the containment measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, we call for greater cooperation with commercial game makers to distribute health-related messages via entertainment games. With regard to G4H we see a need to (i) strengthen the intervention theory underlying game-based applications, (ii) to enhance the appeal of games in order to maintain the interest of users in the long term, and (iii) to improve the evidence base using appropriate study designs. Finally, we argue for (iv) greater user involvement, both in terms of developing game-based approaches and as co-researchers in solving complex health problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1140665
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 28.02.2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Dadaczynski, Tolks, Wrona, Mc Call and Fischer.

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, emergency situation, games for health, gamification, health inequalities, serious games
  • Health sciences
  • Psychology