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

10/12/18 Heidi McDonald

The 2018 Design Hive: Plenty of Buzz, and a Real Bee

iThrive Design Hives are annual retreats with veteran game developers and scholars in the field. The iThrive team, along with these folks, works to identify best practices in game design, on various topics, after we review the scientific literature around components of social and emotional well-being. We seek to produce resources that support the design […]

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09/21/18 iThrive Games

About iThrive’s Journal of Games, Self, and Society

Journal of Games, Self, & Society (JGSS) is a peer-reviewed journal created and edited by iThrive Games and published by ETC Press. The goal of JGSS is to encourage interdisciplinary research, conversation, and community around games-related scholarship. The journal highlights work focused on how games, game design, and gameplay contribute to a deeper understanding of […]

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09/13/18 Eric Vignola

Virtual Reality and the Search For Happiness

Happiness is a habit and a skill. According to Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the brain can learn to maintain happier, more compassionate states through consistent training. I believe that one way this kind of training can be done is through the responsible and intentional design of […]

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08/15/18 Michael Vassos

Friendly Competition: Starting an eSports League at My High School

It’s do or die. I’m in the loser’s bracket quarter finals. After a defeat to THUNDER, Ontario’s third best Super Smash Bros 4 player, I move to the losers bracket to face s0rry. I’ve never heard of s0rry but I never underestimate a new opponent. After several nail-biting moments, the score is knotted at two […]

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08/7/18 Katerina Schenke

Put a Badge On It! Using Digital Badges to Support Social and Emotional Learning

Digital badges have been at the center of discussions around alternative credentialing systems for years. Digital badges—web-enabled tokens of accomplishment that circulate in social networks—rose to prominence as a potential alternative credentialing system in the early 2010s. The idea was that students could earn credit that would be recognized by universities, peer networks, employers, and […]

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07/18/18 Heidi McDonald

Student Game Developers Win for Compassion in Accessibility

In early June, I was fortunate enough to be a guest speaker at the Gotland Games Conference (GGC) in Visby, Sweden. The GGC is an annual festival at Uppsala University, where the students present and demo their game projects and compete for awards, and where speakers deliver lectures on a yearly theme. I was invited […]

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07/3/18 iThrive Games

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

UPDATE: We have extended the deadline for the new Games, Self, and Society, (edited by iThrive Games, in cooperation with ETC Press) to September 30th, 2018. We look forward to the additional submissions that examine the many social, emotional, and societal impacts games have on players and beyond! ———- iThrive Games, in cooperation with Carnegie Mellon’s […]

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