The number of overweight children and young people has risen worryingly in recent decades. The Bachelor of Applied Health Sciences program was looking for a way to let children discover the benefits of healthy food in a playful way, much like the games you may find at the JunubGames computer games portal. With the free serious game Yum Runner, developed thanks to the support of the Socialist Mutualities, they fully embrace innovation and reach children in their own digital world. The online game is scientifically substantiated and can be downloaded from 25 April 2018 in stores for the general public. In addition, the serious game also goes to primary schools where it is offered as part of an educational package.
Game in the fight against obesity
It seems like a paradox. Eat healthier through gaming. However, it turns out that children are best reached in their own world. Gaming is indispensable for them. The Yum Runner is not just “a video game”. It is a serious game that uses the power of game technology to promote healthy behavior. An excellent learning tool in the digital age that proves its effectiveness.
Paul Callewaert, general secretary of the Socialist Health Insurance Fund: “As a health insurance fund, we are always actively looking for new forms of health promotion that have an effect. The digital age offers a range of possibilities. As an innovative health insurance fund, we want to focus strongly on this. The Yum Runner is a good example of this.”
Yum Runner requires players to avoid obstacles by jumping or sliding. Along the way, they come across healthy and unhealthy food. The healthier they eat and drink, the better they run, jump and overcome obstacles. An interactive game with a message.
In this serious game, you play an active role yourself. The interactive style has an effect on, among other things, knowledge and skills. A serious game continues where other educational tools stop. Serious games are therefore a promising technological method within healthcare when it comes to behavioral change, knowledge transfer, improving skills, and learning actions.
Barbara Plovie, a researcher at Howest: ‘Gaming strengthens skills such as the ability to concentrate, contributes to better eye-hand coordination, sharpens your reaction time, teaches you how to deal with failures, challenges, and successes. This applies equally to entertainment and serious games, but those educational and motor advantages are the priority for serious games. The game teaches children which foods are healthier than others, which give more energy, and how they can make a healthy balance.”
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The three-year project originated from the Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen (Howest) and wanted to provide an answer to frequently asked questions from the professional field about the use of games within the care and prevention sector. There was a TETRA project Evidence Based Game Design, which received the support of the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology.
Within this process, a prototype of a serious game was developed with a healthy lifestyle. With the game design, Socialistische Mutualiteiten went to various companies within the game industry and eventually joined forces withBazookaswho developed the Yum Runner.
Bazookas are a creative mobile agency, founded by former bachelor Digital Arts and Entertainmentstudents of Howest, which has built up a lot of experience over the years in devising, developing, and developing applications and games. As a game builders, they have expertise in developing serious games and entertaining games. Their game designers are driven in developing a powerful game story combined with efficient game elements. In the meantime, they have built up a repertoire of more than 36 multiscreen HTML 5 games.
Also for schools
Joetz vzw, the youth service of the Socialist health insurance fund, created an educational package and a workshop for teachers and supervisors of children in the 1st grade of primary education on the basis of Yum Runner. Teachers can bring an expert into the classroom to give the workshop or get started with the package themselves.