Empowering Teens Through Great Games

About iThrive Games


iThrive Games collaborates with game developers, tests games with teens, and provides resources to foster teen thriving through gameplay.

The potential for video games to empower teens has been largely overlooked even though video games allow for players to stretch their skills, take risks, and explore who they are and who they want to be. iThrive Games is a team of social and emotional learning experts, psychologists, and game developers that works to address this oversight through collaborations with game studios as well as teen development and positive psychology experts. The iThrive Games team embraces teens’ love of video games, and explores 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

04/11/18 Kelli Dunlap, PsyD

Sea of Thieves: Anchored in Positive Design

Sea of Thieves (SoT; rated 13+ years), a pirate-themed, open-world game, launched in March of 2018 with over 1,000,000 players ready to set sail on day one. What initially sparked my interest in SoT was an article in US Gamer about how Rare, the development studio, had specifically designed the game to preemptively combat the […]

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03/28/18 Jason VandenBerghe

How Games Change the World by Modeling the Truth

“How can a game change young people’s minds in a positive way?” There’s a hopeful idea underneath this question. It’s hidden beneath the words, and it’s one any parent would recognize: “I believe that my message to my children will be heard.” Certainly, parents’ messages to their children are often heard. Still, anyone who has […]

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03/4/18 iThrive Games

An Interview with Kinful: Bringing Cross-Cultural Empathy to Schools with VR

How do we prepare today’s students to thrive in an uncertain world? One proven technique is for schools to wholeheartedly support students’ social and emotional development — their empathy, their ability to bounce back after failure, and their capacity to connect meaningfully and sensitively with diverse people across the world. Schools are demanding effective social […]

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02/27/18 James Portnow

Nier: Automata – True Kindness in Games Requires Sacrifice

Editor’s note: This guest-authored post was inspired by a panel discussion called “Find the Kind” at MagFest in January of 2018. The panel was led by Heidi McDonald and Sean Weiland of iThrive Games, James Portnow of Extra Credits, and Dr. Shaun Cashman of Pfeiffer University. Please note that THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS for the […]

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02/20/18 Courtney Garcia

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – Why the World Needs a Hero with a Mental Illness

Editor’s note: This guest-authored post is part of iThrive’s series on games and mental health. Articles in this series reflect iThrive’s commitment to use and design games in support of teens’ mental health and well-being, both within and outside of traditional therapeutic contexts. Talking about mental illness can be difficult, confusing, and sometimes even scary. […]

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01/29/18 Ian McDonald

Wallop! You Died (Again): Growth Mindset and Cuphead

My name is Ian McDonald. I’m 13 and I love to play games! Roleplaying games (RPGs), puzzle games, platformers, shooters…you name it. I took a quiz at a site called Quantic Foundry to tell me more about what kinds of games I might like, and my results made complete sense to me: I tend to […]

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01/23/18 Barbara Chamberlin

Meaningfully and Realistically Using Games in the Classroom

Practical barriers can keep the most enthusiastic teacher from using games in the classroom. Let’s get real — and realistic — about ways to approach game-based learning for the classroom. Teachers are busy, and usually spend much of a given school day completing work from that day while simultaneously preparing work for the next day. […]

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