Story Table

Lucas Nijs
Ludivine Lechat Tom De Smedt Lieven Menschaert Frederik De Bleser Pieter Heremans
serious games healthcare children stress


Story Table aims to develop multimedia games (interactive fairytales) for children in the hospital, to reduce stress and loneliness. The research is funded by the Flemish government and conducted at the St Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp, Belgium.

The advisory board of the project consists of hospitals (University Hospital Antwerp, University Hospital Leuven, Ghent Health Psychology Lab), computer science research groups (CLiPS, University of Antwerp, NIL, University of Madrid, CLS, University College Dublin), parents of deceased children, psychologists, international non-profit art organizations (RxArt New York), and industry partners active in healthcare.

The (interior) design of a hospital is typically functional. The main reason is that available resources are limited, and new equipment and staff are obviously prioritized. However, there is a growing body of evidence that the patient’s environment plays an important role in recovery, and the situation is changing. Hospitals are starting to design their patient rooms as bedrooms, ​their entrance halls as p​lazas,​ including plantlife, and their hallways as e​xhibition spaces,​ with the aim to better connect patients with “comfort zones” from the outside world. Several studies have shown that nature (e.g., gardens, plants) and depictions of nature (e.g., landscape paintings) have a positive effect on stress and recovery.

In Story Table, we focus on hospitalized children. Children in the hospital often feel lonely because they cannot p​lay​ with their friends and classmates, they miss the comfort of their home, and they experience stress because they do not always understand what is happening or why complex (or painful) medical procedures are necessary.

In Story Table, we want to develop games that offer distraction and make (prolonged) hospital visits more enjoyable for children. EMRG has a long history with digital artwork inspired by nature, creativity research, and tools for improving human-computer interaction.

We focus on three research approaches: 1) using an interactive wall projection, 2) using an interactive table, and 3) using AI story generation techniques.