The annual Games for Health Europe conference is the leading conference in the field of applied health games in Europe. The 6th annual conference was held on the 31st of October and the 1st of November in Utrecht. By bringing together more than 400 people with a wide variety of professions, such as game developers, policy makers, researchers, clinicians and doctors, this conference created a unique opportunity to share ideas and establish new collaborations to advance game technology and improve health care. Among those presenting were Roos Dekker (Research Assistant at the department of Clinical Psychology), Wouter Boendermaker (Researcher at the department of Developmental Psychology) and Zerrin Yumak en Yun Ling (Information and Computing Sciences - Virtual Worlds) from Utrecht University.
Roos Dekker presented a research poster about automated techniques to assess and tackle depressive symptoms. This pilot study (conducted in collaboration with Claudi Bockting, Alishia Williams and Ronald Poppe from Utrecht University) built on existing work demonstrating it is possible to automatically detect depression from facial gestures. They extended this work by developing an automated intervention strategy based on the facial feedback hypothesis; manipulation of facial muscles alone can confer affective benefits. It was found that depressive symptoms significantly predicted the facial expression of contempt, and that five imitations of a smile were sufficient to increase the positive mood. They envision that this methodology can be further developed in a gamified self-empowering tool in the form of a smartphone app: a personal, virtual life-style coach that can detect the onset of depression and offers an automatized, personalized intervention to decrease depression symptoms.
This project is supported by Game Research Seed Money