iThrive, uThrive, We All Thrive for Empathy
iThrive, a nonprofit initiative focused on helping youth become better functioning adults through games, is teaming up with the University of Utah’s Games4Health Challenge for the second year in a row. The iThrive Empathy Challenge is a competition for development teams to create games that improve adolescent well-being through empathy.
The challenge encourages contestants to help players gain empathy through any of three main areas: storyline, character interaction and mechanics. Contest materials referring to examples of games that do empathy well include IGR favorites Gone Home, Never Alone, To the Moon and Papers, Please, as well as last year’s massive indie hit Undertale.
The contest will be judged by Sheri Graner Ray, who has worked on a number of video games as well as writing the book Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding the Market and Sam Lewis, who has extensive experience in both tabletop games (DC Heroes, Battletech) and video games (Star Wars Galaxies, Elder Scrolls Online).
Experts from iThrive will assist the teams throughout the process. Finalists and winners will receive additional help throughout the spring and summer from experts in both psychology and game design, as well as promotional and marketing assistance. Winners will have the chance to have their games displayed at iThrive’s “Psyched Up Arcade” booth, which appears at a number of major game conferences.
The challenge also includes cash prizes: $5,000 for first prize, $2,500 for second prize, $1,000 for third prize and $250 for each of seven additional finalists.
A Healthy Respect for Games
The iThrive Empathy Challenge is one of five sponsored challenges in the University of Utah’s Games4Health competition. Other challenges focus on fitness, corporate wellness, digital medicine and chronic disease management.
All five challenges have a closing date of March 31st, 2016.