Discovery, Expansion, and Design: Our Five Most Popular Blog Posts in 2022

In 2022, we played, learned, grew, and co-created. From our knowledge-building and knowledge-sharing with young people and those who care about them this year come new playful tools and experiences supportive of their thriving.

By iThrive Games
December 26, 2022

Imagine a world where every teen has the tools to live a full, healthy, and purposeful life.

At iThrive Games, we view play as a vehicle capable of supporting the shaping of that world and the realization of it. Games, with their lure and immersiveness, invite and reward a wonder that nourishes young people's social and emotional selves by offering them safe spaces to reflect, discover, inquire, experiment, and sharpen essential skills. Our team of adolescent development and instructional design experts see these playful spaces as generative ones ripe with entry points for meaningful learning and mental health support. Working closely with and for teens, we develop social and emotional skill-building games and experiences that bring wellness to the spaces they learn and gather in. The iThrive approach has helped organizations, institutions, and schools that care deeply about teen thriving, envision, create, and test interactive tools that complement and expand on their work and mission while accelerating progress toward a world where young people can thrive. 

In 2022, our work continued with more co-design and co-creation, more knowledge-building and knowledge-sharing, and more insights and moving stories shared on our blog that highlight the genius of young people and the transformative power of embodied play. Here is a list of the top five most-read pieces of the year:

New Narrative Game Raises Awareness of ACEs & Their Impact on Youth Mental Health

The SEED Institute, a collaborative effort between Transition HOPE, iThrive Games, and BMA Ten Point Coalition, was a game design studio led by youth of color (ages 14 to 28) who used their experiences in and adjacent to the cradle-to-prison pipeline to create games that depict inequities and advocate for social change. The tabletop, desktop, and virtual reality (VR) games and game prototypes SEED designers created were developed using the iThrive Studio model. Take a look back at this write-up on Children of the Flame, a game envisioned by the young designers in partnership with iThrive and FableVision Studios. The design team's goal: Get everyone who plays it to understand the impact of adolescent childhood experiences (ACEs) and commit to trauma-informed practices that help reduce the harm.

Teens Know What They Need to Be Healthy and Thrive. It's Time We Listen.

At iThrive, we have long centered social and emotional skill-building in our understanding of teen thriving. In adolescence, this is important, but it is not sufficient in the world young people are navigating. From being in community with teens over the last five years and asking them what thriving means to them comes our new, expanded definition of teen thriving that amplifies what they most want and need. Here's how it will instruct iThrive's next chapter of co-creation.

HS Students Learn How to Be Conscious Consumers of Media Through Play

Teens live in a digital world marked by a never-ending stream of information. Supporting their ability to access, evaluate, analyze, communicate, and act on that information is a crucial part of their thriving. iThrive Sim: Follow the Facts builds these media literacy skills through immersive play, inviting high school students to step into the newsroom as journalists and editors tasked with reporting on a breaking story. The game, hosted exclusively on the iThrive Sim platform, mirrors the stressors members of the media navigate providing teens with opportunities to flex and sharpen their social and emotional skills. In July, students at the Collegiate School in Richmond, VA played the simulation game in groups of five. Read what they took away from it.

Game Design for International Relations: iThrive Studio in Olang, Italy

iThrive Studio: Olang, hosted by iThrive's Susan E. Rivers, PhD and History Co:Lab's Fernande Raine, PhD in October, as part of Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes' Summer Academy, invited university students to use game design as a tool for unpacking challenges in international relations. Using history as a guide and design as a lever for imagining and calibrating ideas, 20 students conceived, constructed, and pitched six game prototypes by the end of the two-week experience, each presenting solutions to social issues that matter to them. Read what the student game designers learned about power and play

Supporting a Friend in an Unhealthy Relationship Takes Courage. Teens Say That Takes Practice.

This year, we continued our work supporting One Love, a foundation that connects young people to life-saving prevention education, on a game that will empower the teens who play it with the know-how and skills to recognize and reduce unhealthy behaviors and advocate for healthy relationships. Core to the game's development are the teens we are co-designing with and learning from. Read what they've shared with us so far.

This year has been one of exciting collaboration and tremendous learning. Whether you're a teen who co-designed or playtested with us, a collaborator who trusted our insight, an educator who brought one of our resources to your classroom, or a supporter who cheered us on, we appreciate each of you for the many ways you engaged with us this year. A heartfelt thank you for your commitment to teen thriving!