By KarI Y. Snyder, MFA
While teaching at the University of Houston, I noticed that Houston region technology and media students lacked paid internship opportunities to grow their skills under professional mentorship. I created and produced the Healthcare Games Showdown training event to help solve this problem.
- Instructional Designer
- Showdown Creator
- Executive Producer (business development & fundraising)
- Creative Director (all graphics and promotional work)
- Director (live stream and event)
- Lead Editor
- 2 Co-Hosts
- 3 Co-Producers
- 2 Media Team Students
- 10 Software Students on three teams
- 33 Professional Mentors
- 26 Professional Advisors
- Fundraising and Pre-Production: 8 months
- Production: 4 weeks
- Post-Production: 6 months
- Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Audition, After Effects, XD)
- 8th Wall (AR)
- HTML, CSS, and React
- MS Office
I sought to develop a rigorous serious video game training experience that brought together teams of college students from various colleges to create healthcare video game projects under the direction of professional mentors and healthcare providers. I reached out to sponsors so that the students were provided paid work even as they learned new skills.
Hosted by the Texas Medical Center’s TMC Innovation Institute, the Healthcare Games Showdown™ was an Accelerator meets Game Jam in which medical and healthcare games or gamification concepts are created by college students under the direction of medical and video game mentors.
I created the showdown with the idea that a live-stream broadcast would allow employers to watch the students work as well as for other students around the world to be inspired and learn new skills as well. Each week of the showdown the live-stream episode featured a specific job. Students were interviewed regarding how they were conducting their work; professional mentors shared tips, and special guests offered fresh insights.
I raised $96,000 in sponsorship with Texas Children's Hospital as presenting sponsor and AT&T and Mount Sinai Hospital as a team sponsors. The Texas Medical Accelerator in the Houston Texas Medical Center offered the filming location for the event. Hardware sponsor, Hyper X provided student prizes and Assembla offered free software management software. Other industry organizations provided more marketing support for the showdown and opportunities for the students.
Twenty-eight students signed up for the event with ten (10) students making the final selection based on a round of job interviews coupled with an on-camera test. Selected students were from the University of Houston, Texas A&M, The Art Institute of Houston, Lone Star College, and the University of Dallas. Three teams produced healthcare video game projects while the media team documented their work. I secured thirty-seven (33) professional mentors from both the video game industry and the healthcare field. All of them graciously volunteered their time to rate the skills and work of each student each week based on customized rubric I developed. An additional twenty-six professionals were selected as an advisor group to review student applications and provide sponsor outreach connections.
Augmented Reality (AR) hospital at-home care mobile app
Virutal Reality (VR) physical rehab mobile game app
Online, in-browser mental health game
In order to best assess performance gaps and demonstrate successful skill growth, each week students were evaluated by professional mentors and rated 1-10 on job specific skills in the categories of Project Management, Programming, 3D Art & Design and UI/UX. I created the grading rubrics after interviewing 20 different professionals in each field. Each rubric was also reviewed and approved by the board of advisors prior to the showdown.
Outside of being evaluated each week, students could win special recognition badges for soft skill merits such as kindly assisting another student, helping clean up without being asked, and putting in extra time in study.
At the end of the four week internship, all three teams presented their final video game projects to see who would win the top prize. An in-person awards show included various business professionals, a United States congressman, and various healthcare professionals. Houston Public Media co-broadcast the live stream regionally. The finale event was well received with over 2,000 views and a robust live audience of over 400. Winners were announced for Top Project Manager, Top UI/UX, Top 3D Artist, Top Programmer and Top Video Game Project. Most importantly, three students were offered job opportunities.
"The Greater Houston Partnership strives to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. We fully support the mission of the Healthcare Games Showdown and are working with the showdown’s Executive Producer, Kari Snyder, on connections that can benefit the event and team sponsors."
"Video games are a wonderful way to engage with patients and their families. Our hope for the future of serious games in healthcare is that we can integrate them into the daily care of our patients and have our outcomes be optimal."