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Marientina Gotsis believes that behavior change can be the key to improving health. As founder of the USC Games for Health Initiative and co-founder of the USC Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center, she employs virtual reality, games, and mobile media to tackle educational, diagnostic, and therapeutic challenges in healthcare. At Conversations, Marientina shared various case studies of her work, including health apps and health games that provide solutions to obesity, developmental disorders, rehabilitation, and issues in child development.

The goal of her work is to build healthy brain architecture through entertainment and social support. Her work also serves to increase public awareness of critical issues in mental health and behavioral science and provide hands-on, creativity-based educational opportunities for health researchers and practitioners. Focused on the user experience, Marientina works with teams at the intersection of public health, medicine, and neuroscience. She shared that, together, they ask meaningful questions, based on the heuristic method, to better understand the user’s experience and its impact. For example, is the game sufficiently challenging? Is there enough depth of play? Does it feel fun? Does it stimulate internal dialogue? Do the required physical interactions feel natural? Are social interactions fostered? It’s through asking such questions, she said, that she and her team are able to make behavior visible to people and, in turn, instigate change behavior.

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