iThrive is one of five Games4Health Challenge sponsors offering prizes to students who develop digital games and apps that address health issues

iThrive, in partnership with the Sorenson Center for Discovery & Innovation at The University of Utah David Eccles School of Business has launched an initiative to facilitate the development of digital games and applications that address the needs of corporate wellness programs. iThrive and the Sorenson Center will foster a cooperative ecosystem bringing together game developers, health experts, investors, donors, researchers and students.

iThrive’s  Adolescent Empathy Challenge is one of five sponsored challenges featured in the competition.  Games have become powerful teaching and training devices for businesses, the military, and education. But the potential for digital games to advance mental wellbeing, especially for teens, is largely untapped. By repurposing a medium most teens already favor, we can discover how games can be created or modified to promote positive psychological emotions and behaviors such as empathy that lead to healthier and happier adolescents. Students participating in this challenge will design new games or create modules for existing games like Mine Craft that address this need.

“The unlimited interactive and creative environments found in digital games provide a unique opportunity to encourage adolescents to explore aspects of themselves,” said iThrive founder Dorothy Batten. “They can practice playing roles they may not have the opportunity or courage to do in their real lives, step into the shoes of others, develop new perspectives, find solutions to problems, and learn more effective ways of communicating and interacting with others. All of these skills can be utilized to cope with the obstacles and stressors that confront teens at school, home, and in their communities, and prepare them for future careers.”

iThrive will provide $10,000 in prizes for the development of concepts for digital games that seek to improve and promote empathy among adolescents. Students will submit game designs in two videos: a 90-second teaser video will explain the game in such a way as to create a high emotional interest in playing the game, while a 3-minute commercialization video will show how the game mechanics and navigation work, how it will make money and how it will be tested to demonstrate its health care benefits.

Chris Wasden, executive director of the Sorenson Center, said that “students in this challenge will be adding the gaming mechanics and principles to develop positive psychology and improved mental wellbeing.”

Registration for the iThrive Challenge is now open, and will close on March 1, 2016. To register, visit g4h.business.utah.edu.

Games4Health Challenge

Last year, 150 students from 10 universities and four countries participated in the Games4Health Challenge to win $50,000 in prize money.

“We hope to double the level of participation in 2016 and will be increasing the prize money to $60,000, making this the largest Games4Health Challenge in the world,” Wasden said.

“The University of Utah has the number-one ranked video development graduate school in the country and the number-17 graduate entrepreneurial program at the Eccles School, as well as a top 10 medical school,” Wasden said. “The trifecta makes this the ideal place to sponsor this event.”

The Games4Health Challenge will be held on March 31, 2016 at the David Eccles School of Business. For more information, visit g4h.business.utah.edu.

About iThrive

The D.N. Batten Foundation in partnership with Centerstone Research Institute (CRI) launched iThrive Games, a charitable initiative to facilitate the development of digital games and applications that promote emotional well-being among adolescents. iThrive will foster a cooperative ecosystem bringing together game developers, subject matter experts, investors and donors, researchers, and youth. Learn more about iThrive Games at ithrivegames.com or contact Heidi McDonald, creative director, at Heidi.McDonald@centerstone.org.

About The Games4Health Challenge

The Games4Health Challenge (g4h.business.utah.edu) is an annual collaboration of the Sorenson Center for Discovery & Innovation at the David Eccles School, the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Program (an interdisciplinary program between the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts), and the Center for Medical Innovation at the University of Utah Medical School.

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