GDC 2011 organizers are focusing on health and healthcare in games for a one-day Serious Games Summit segment at the end of this month, including talks on WoW's 'blood plague' and nightmare protection through games.

Day one of the Serious Games Summit, taking place on February 28 during the Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, will specifically address how games can change player behavior to improve physical and mental well-being.

In the Summit description, the advisors note that the day "will focus on health and healthcare, covering research and the many commercialized games in the health and wellness space that have launched the past few years."

Among the day's sessions is a talk on 'Video Game Play as Nightmare Protection,' in which Jayne Gackenbach from Grant MacEwan University will discuss studies that examine whether games can help ward off frightening dreams.

Gackenbach and colleagues "...have been studying the hypothesis that video game play might act as a protective mechanism against nightmares [using] a waking rehearsal [to respond] to threatening situations in games."

Also featured is a talk entitled 'Hakkar's Corrupted Blood Plague: How an Outbreak in WoW is Helping Epidemiologists Create Better Disease Models,' in which Rutgers University's Nina H. Fefferman examines how an accidental in-game plague in World of Warcraft could improve our understanding and our ability to react to such events in the future.

Other notable SGS Heath Day sessions include an analysis of 'games for good' with speakers from organizations including Stanford University, Nike Digital Sport, Kairos Labs, and more, as well as a collection of smaller lectures examining a variety of ways in which games can influence healthcare, with speakers from MIT, Michigan State University, Playpower.org, and more.

Also part of the Heath Day is the Serious Games Summit Playfest, which showcases a variety of games and projects devoted to improving health and wellness. Attendees are welcome to play these games and engage in Q&A sessions with the individuals who made them a reality.

The GDC Serious Games Summit also includes a second day, March 1, focused on the idea of 'gamification,' featuring sessions including 'The Great Gamification Debate!' with Schell Games' Jesse Schell, Institute For The Future's Jane McGonigal, Playmatics' Margaret Wallace, Digitalmill's Ben Sawyer and The Inspiracy's Noah Falstein, who will all provide their insight on this growing industry trend.

The GDC 2011 Serious Games Summit joins six other notable standalone Summits, including Social & Online Games, AI, Indie, GDC Education, Localization and the GDC Smartphone Summit, as well as multiple high-profile tutorials, on the Monday and Tuesday of Game Developers Conference 2011.

More information on this particular Summit – part of the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website – which can be attended via All-Access or Summit-specific GDC 2011 passes, is available on its official website.