Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Computer Says No: Harnessing the gaming community to promote health messages for cancer prevention

Computer games offer an innovative way of delivering dietary messages and promoting health behaviour change. The majority of behaviour change research in this area has focused on developing new games as novel health promotion interventions, as opposed to engaging the gaming community to look at how these messages might be built into existing designs. They have also focused on stand-alone games, as opposed to online games, which have bigger existing communities that might be harnessed. In particular, little is known about the impact of 'vloggers', expert gamers that are viewed as role models by much of the gaming community. Building content on dietary change for cancer prevention into existing online games or utilising the reputation of vloggers could enable messages to reach a larger population, and not just those motivated to engage with a game for health promotion. This research therefore seeks to explore how online games and their supporting communities can be utilised to promote positive change in the nutrition behaviours of online gamers for cancer prevention.

Principal investigator: Dr Rebecca Beeken

Collaborators: Ian Redpath (The Behaviouralist, i2 media research limited, eyetracker UK and europe), Ethna McFerran (Queen's University Belfast), Richard Purves (University of Stirling)

Contact: Dr Rebecca Beeken (r.beeken[at]ucl.ac.uk)