Empowering Teens Through Great Games

About iThrive Games


We believe that video games can create meaningful ways for teens to engage in their own development. We are committed to the use and design of  games that are engaging and meaningful to teen players.

Who we are
We are a team of psychologists, social and emotional learning experts, and game developers.

How we work
In collaboration with game developers, mental health experts, and educators, we infuse meaningful, game-based growth opportunities into the virtual and physical settings where teens spend their time.

Why games?
We know games can empower teens to develop socially and emotionally, stretch their skills, take risks, and explore who they are and who they want to be. We embrace teens’ love of video games and explore how great games can empower teens to discover and use their unique strengths, unlock their potential, and take charge of their well-being.

Our Blog

07/3/18 iThrive Games

Seeking Contributors to iThrive’s New, Peer-Reviewed Journal of Games, Self, and Society

iThrive Games, in cooperation with Carnegie Mellon’s ETC Press, has released a call for submissions to the inaugural issue of iThrive’s peer-reviewed Journal of Games, Self, and Society. Our team of highly respected game scholars, education experts, and mental health specialists recruited from around the United States will review papers submitted to kelli.dunlap@ithrivegames.org by Aug. […]

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06/28/18 Heidi McDonald

Overwatch Endorsements and Promoting Player Kindness

Blizzard Entertainment has added a feature to their co-op shooter, Overwatch (rated 13+ years), which promotes kindness in their player base. The system took effect in update 1.25 of the game. The idea is that after someone completes a team match, each player has the chance to award up to three “endorsements” to other players, […]

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06/28/18 Kelli Dunlap, PsyD

Gaming Disorder and the World Health Organization

[Note: This article originally appeared on www.takethis.org and is reposted here with permission.] In June 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) finalized its draft of the 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11). Included in the latest version of the medical classification manual is the controversial diagnosis of […]

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06/22/18 Michelle Bertoli

iThrive’s Resources for Educators: Using Games to Engage the Whole Teen

iThrive Games, founded in 2014, is a nonprofit committed to providing meaningful growth experiences for teens, both in and outside of the classroom. Through our education initiatives, launched in 2017, we strive to empower educators to integrate game-based learning in the classroom to support the development of the “whole teen,” meaning attending to teens’ cognitive, […]

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06/19/18 Amanda Lange

How Difficult Video Games Inspire Me in My Career at Microsoft

As a Software Engineer and former Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, I often have people — sometimes parents — ask me how I got my start in technology. The truth of the matter is, though I’ve been inspired by a lot of different sources over the years, my biggest source of inspiration to start in technology […]

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05/30/18 Sarah Hays

“Link”ing Games and Therapy: A Triforce Intervention

[Content Note: Description of trauma, sexual assault] Jane (not her real name) was a 13-year-old girl referred to me after being groped multiple times by random peers in the hall at school while visiting her locker between classes. As a result of Jane’s traumatic experiences, she was afraid to go to school, walk in the […]

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05/21/18 Kelli Dunlap, PsyD

Mental Health in Games: 3 Design Tropes that Need to Die

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s talk about how mental illness is represented in video games and why that should change. About a quarter of commercially released video games include characters with symptoms of a mental illness. Too often, these portrayals follow the trends we’ve seen in over 40 years of research into […]

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