He comes into a training room at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center, a skinny kid with an earring and a cap, and sits down, ready to work. He looks young. But he's been through a lot.
A few years ago, in Iraq with the National Guard, Bryan Kidd suffered a concussion so severe he still has trouble recognizing people. This afternoon he is working with Veterans Affairs therapist Andrea Meehan on cognitive problems. They're using a video game to do it.
This is one example of the burgeoning field of "serious games": tapping what has been an entertainment device for training, education, and therapy. Some serious games have been around for years, like flight simulators. Some are new – including games like Cutthroat Capitalism, which helps people understand the economics of Somalian piracy, or September 12th, which is about the nature of terrorism.
Other games teach about everything from redistricting to childbirth to warfare. The allure of "gamification" seems clear: to make education – or therapy – fun.