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Neurogaming & Health [clear filter]
Thursday, June 28


Keynote - Empowering Tech Crazed Kids to Save Lives with Rajesh Anandan
UNICEF Kid Power was created with the intention of harnessing the inherent goodness of children and using that energy to change the world. By using Kid Power technology, every step taken adds up to lifesaving nutrition that UNICEF USA delivers to malnourished children around the world. To-date, the program has saved the lives of more than 52,000 children. Kid Power gets kids active and empowers them to make a concrete and lasting change in the world around them. What would happen if all children participated in Kid Power? The possibilities are endless.

avatar for Rajesh Anandan

Rajesh Anandan

Senior Vice President UNICEF Ventures, UNICEF USA
Rajesh Anandan, Co-creator UNICEF Kid Power, Co-founder ULTRA Testing. Rajesh Anandan is an intrapreneur, entrepreneur and growth architect. He is the co-creator of UNICEF Kid Power, a wearable-for-good named one of TIME’s 25 Best Inventions of 2016, and co-founder of ULTRA Testing... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 9:45am - 10:15am
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Using VR to Transform Childrens' Medical Procedures into an Adventure
Smileyscope is an innovative, drug-free solution that uses the immersion and wonder of virtual reality to keep kids still and calm, allowing clinicians to insert needles safely and successfully. In this talk, we'll discuss the process of creating this VR experience from inception through to production and clinical trials. We'll discuss what worked and what didn't work, focusing on the creative, technical and hospital/health considerations as well as discussing trial outcomes and next steps.

avatar for Evelyn Chan

Evelyn Chan

Founder and CEO, Smileyscope
Evelyn Chan is CEO and Co-Founder of SmileyScope VR. A Rhodes Scholar and strategy consultant with a background in paediatrics, Evelyn has a passion for developing innovative solutions to enable healthcare to be patient centred, sustainable and equitable.
avatar for Joey Egger

Joey Egger

Executive Producer, Two Moos
Joey is an Emmy, Webby and Peabody award-winning executive producer with over fifteen years of experience producing innovative, engaging and educational digital experiences for kids around the world, including the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and Sesame Workshop. Joey... Read More →
avatar for James Kane

James Kane

CEO, Two Bulls
James Kane is the founder and CEO of Two Moos and its parent company Two Bulls. He has overseen digital consulting and strategy for the world’s leading children’s media brands including Nickelodeon, Disney, NBC Sprout and PBS Kids.

Thursday June 28, 2018 11:15am - 11:35am
Room 105


Project Briefs: Neurogaming & Health
Dian Rachmawati (VR Researcher, The Parts)
VR as an entry point of self-compassion

Jullia Suhyoung Lim (Teachers College, Columbia University), Jung Yeon Choe (Teachers College, Columbia University), and Jaehyun Kim (Graduate Student, Teacher’s College)
Augmented Reality and Autism

Thomas Lilge (Head of gamelab.berlin, Humboldt University)
OncoLogg - A Game for Patient Empowerment

Deborah Sturm (College of Staten Island, CUNY) and Sarah Ita Levitan (Columbia University)
A Game to Assess Emotional Speech Recognition

avatar for Jung Yeon Choe

Jung Yeon Choe

Teachers College, Columbia University
Jung Yeon is an Master of Arts candidate in Design and Development of Digital Games at Columbia University. She graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology. She has worked as research assistants and teacher assistants to study children and how... Read More →
avatar for Jaehyun Kim

Jaehyun Kim

Graduate Student, Teachers College
Jaehyun designs and creates playful experiences.
avatar for Sarah Ita Levitan

Sarah Ita Levitan

Graduate Student, Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Sarah Ita Levitan is a graduate student of Computer Science at Columbia University completing her PhD under the guidance of Dr. Julia Hirschberg, director of the Speech Processing Lab. Sarah Ita designed a lie-detection game, LieCatcher that will be presented at the Games4NLP con... Read More →
avatar for Thomas Lilge

Thomas Lilge

Head of gamelab.berlin, Humboldt University
Tom Lilge is cofounder and head of the platform gamelab.berlin (www.gamelab.berlin). Based at the Humboldt University Berlin he coordinates various projects ranging from dance theatre in Virtual Reality to Patient Empowerment through mobile gaming. With a background in philosophy... Read More →
avatar for Jullia Suhyoung Lim

Jullia Suhyoung Lim

Teachers College, Columbia University
Jullia Suhyoug Lim is the Project Manager of ARound, a team of students developing technological solutions for autism. She recently completed her Master of Arts degree in Instructional Technology and Media at Teachers College, Columbia University. As a former teacher, she worked with... Read More →
avatar for Deborah Sturm

Deborah Sturm

Associate Professor, College of Staten Island (CUNY)
Deborah Sturm is an associate professor of computer science at the College of Staten Island (CUNY). She designed and teaches three gaming electives (including Serious Games) and introduced an area concentration in game development. She designs and develops research games for players... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 11:45am - 12:30pm
Room 105


Sesame Street: Coping with Traumatic Experiences
Nearly half of American children have experienced an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs)- an unexpected stressful occurrence, like natural disasters or witnessing violent acts. These traumatic experiences and resulting toxic stress can disrupt a child’s brain development and increase the risk of both short-term and long-term physical, social, and emotional issues. As part of an initiative to help families cope with these traumatic experiences, the team at Sesame Street has developed the game Big Bird’s Comfy-Cozy Nest. This game helps kids explore strategies for calming and comforting themselves in times of stress.

avatar for Kristin Cook

Kristin Cook

Producer, Sesame Workshop
Kristin is an Emmy nominated digital producer who has been working with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, for the past decade. She creates interactive experiences to educate children on a wide variety of topics from Healthy Habits to Childhood... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Room 104


Designing Games to Improve Health Behaviors: Evidence-based Principles and Strategies
When well designed, digital games can be powerful environments for improving players’ engagement, motivation, learning, skill development, attitude change, and behavior change, and a growing number of games have successfully improved players’ health behaviors and outcomes. In this talk, Debra Lieberman will present evidence-based, well tested principles that game developers can use in the design of health games aimed at behavior change. She will also present examples of health games that have incorporated one or more of the principles effectively.

avatar for Debra Lieberman

Debra Lieberman

Director, Center for Digital Games Research, University of California, Santa Barbara
Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., directs the Center for Digital Games Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara (www.cdgr.ucsb.edu), where her research focuses on processes of motivation, engagement, learning, and behavior change with digital media and games. Previously at UC... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 2:30pm - 2:50pm
Room 104


Mozak: Turning the world into a neuroscience lab
Understanding how our brain works is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity. To make a quantum leap towards greater understanding, we need to increase the cadre of neuron modeling experts worldwide and significantly improve automated neuron analysis. Mozak’s international online community of over 400 emerging experts has sped up neuron reconstruction by a factor of 3.6 over previous state-of-the-art procedures through a symbiosis of human insight and enhanced computational tools. This talk will describe how we managed to do this in just one year, and how we plan to accelerate neuroscience 10 times over the next 3 years.

avatar for Zoran Popović

Zoran Popović

Director, Center for Game Science, University of Washington
Zoran is a Computer Science Professor and Director of the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington. His research focuses on creating interactive, engaging environments for learning and scientific discovery. His laboratory created Foldit, a biochemistry game that produced... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 3:15pm - 3:35pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Can I Lend You a Hand? How to Make Engaging Games for Neuromuscular Prosthesis Training
The target audience of MyoBeatz are patients after arm and hand amputation, who are waiting to receive prostheses and patients, who had a nerve and muscle transfer. Both patient groups need to engage in neuromuscular training to either be able to fully control their prosthesis or to properly use the transferred muscle. The demographic of the target audience is broad as the need for a prosthesis or a muscle transfer usually is the result of accidents or diseases not discriminated by age, gender, ethnicity or social status.

avatar for Fares Kayali

Fares Kayali

Assistant Professor, Vienna University of Technology
Fares Kayali is a researcher, educator and designer living and working in Vienna, Austria. He is assistant professor at the Human-Computer Interaction Group at the Vienna University of Technology and co-founder of the Positive Impact Games Lab (http://piglab.org). Fares is principal... Read More →
avatar for Cosima Prahm

Cosima Prahm

Research Assistant, Medical University of Vienna
Cosima Prahm is close to completing her PhD in Clinical Neuroscience at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. She works as a research assistant at the CD Laboratory for Reconstruction of Extremity Function, which is part of the Clinic for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Her... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 3:45pm - 4:05pm
Room 105


Strategies for Advancing Mental Health in Games
Mental illness is the costliest medical condition in the United States. In 2018, spending on mental health care is estimated to reach $218 billion, about what we spend on heart conditions and cancer treatment combined. Add in nearly $200 billion in lost productivity and another $500 billion for the opioid epidemic, and we’re looking at a trillion dollar problem. As game designers, we have a very particular set of skills that enables us to tackle this challenge. In this talk, Dr. Kelli Dunlap outlines three strategies for game developers wanting to impact mental health at the individual and societal level.

avatar for Kelli Dunlap

Kelli Dunlap

Mental Health and Games Manager, iThrive Games
Kelli is a psychologist and game designer. She is the Mental Health and Games Manager at iThrive Games, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the well-being of teens through games. Kelli presents regularly at psychological and games industry conferences on games and mental... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 3:45pm - 4:05pm
Room 104


Can Game-Based Training Programs Support Childhood Development?
Inattention is the most commonly reported childhood difficulty with global estimates suggest that 136 million children experience clinical attention difficulties and this number is growing. Inattention negatively impacts social relationships, educational outcomes, and increases vulnerability for mental health issues. The most common current treatment is psychostimulant medication, but the proliferation of portable tablets provides an unprecedented opportunity to provide drug-free interventions that are intrinsically motivating for young children. We'll demonstrate how game-based training programs and tools can be used to improve the assessment, treatment and monitoring of childhood difficulties, such as inattention.

avatar for Hannah Kirk

Hannah Kirk

TALI Health
Dr Hannah Kirk is a developmental psychologist who completed her PhD at the Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences in Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on understanding and improving cognitive, behavioural and academic skills in children with and without developmental... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 4:15pm - 4:35pm
Room 104


Hopelab: Designing for Impact
Hopelab started with an odd question: could video games cure cancer? Back in 2001, when the most popular video games involved violence, destruction, and sexual innuendo, the idea of a game for healing was unheard of and even a bit laughable. Hopelab’s first product, a research-based video game featuring a nanobot destroying cancer cells, launched a progression of health and well-being technologies. And since that first game, Re-Mission, we’ve designed our way into unique ways of keeping young people healthy. This is the story of Hopelab’s evolution from game developer to social innovation lab.

avatar for Margaret Laws

Margaret Laws

President and CEO, Hopelab
Margaret Laws is President and CEO of Hopelab where she leads a multidisciplinary team with expertise in healthcare, academic research, and design to create science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. She is passionate about bringing... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 4:15pm - 4:35pm
Room 105


Games and Concussions: The Next Frontier in Neurological Testing
Concussions are a hot topic in the news right now, and unfortunately the science and research are still very young. The traditional tests are boring, intensive and easy to cheat. Learn how games are being used to create more engaging tests that are also more accurate in assisting physicians in their diagnosis of concussions, and in the future many other neurological diseases.

avatar for John Gardiner

John Gardiner

COO, Highmark Interactive
John is an experienced gaming executive, previously a Director at Big Viking Games, Canada's largest independent gaming studio and one of the first companies to develop free-to-play games. More recently, he has applied his knowledge and experience in gaming to the concussion space... Read More →

Thursday June 28, 2018 4:45pm - 5:05pm
Room 105
Friday, June 29


Playing With Your Emotions: Games that Build Emotional Regulation
Who ever finished Super Mario Bros on the first try? You probably fell into a pit a thousand times before defeating King Bowser. Many children of the 80s, when faced with a challenge in life, recall how we faced the challenge of the deadly surprise attacks by Bullet Bill. Games can present problems and exercise our abilities to solve them. What if the game directly challenged how the player handles tension? What if staying calm under pressure actually helped the player? Mightier is a game platform built around the player's emotions. Players who get flumoxed face dire gameplay consequences. Keeping cool, in the moment, is the key to doing well. Our players, when faced with a challenge in life, recall how they stayed calm racing through the twisty canyons of Race the Sun. Our clinical research shows that our games can have a measurable effect on behavior on par with medication. This talk is a brief introduction to how the technology works, what we have learned, and the impact Mightier has had on real families.

avatar for Trevor Stricker

Trevor Stricker

Cofounder and Vice President of Technology, Mightier
Trevor started making games on the Dreamcast when games came on disks and people read about them in magazines printed on dead trees. He spent a decade making console games like NBA 2K and Panzer Dragoon Orta. He was in charge of development for Quickhit NFL Football, an early F2P... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 11:15am - 11:35am
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium


Appetite for Change - Interactive storytelling inspiring healthy eating among children in the Pacific Islands
In partnership with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s innovationXchange, Beyond the Stars and Our Special Island are innovative programs exploring how game-based education and emerging technologies can inspire healthier eating habits among schoolchildren in the Pacific. Join project lead, Allan Soutaris and creators Tash Tan (Co-Founder of creative technology agency S1T2) and Wil Monte (Founder, Managing Director of game-based education developer Millipede) as they present their journey from project birth at a ‘Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Hack’, to implementation, and revealing the (currently unknown) evaluation reports from two very different Pacific nations, Tonga and Fiji.

avatar for Wil Monte

Wil Monte

Founder and Director, Millipede
Wil is the founder and director of Millipede, an agency specialising in creative programming, education and game development. Millipede began developing for mobile platforms in 2008, not long after the first iPhone was launched. With an impressive list of government and business clients... Read More →
avatar for Allan Soutaris

Allan Soutaris

SecondMuse, Head of Technical Innovation
Having worked in a variety of technical, management and strategic roles globally, Allan develops cutting-edge, engaging experiences that connect with audiences and deliver impact to communities. Experienced in delivering large-scale projects in the private, public and non-profit sectors... Read More →
avatar for Tash Tan

Tash Tan

Co-Founder, S1T2
A founding partner of creative technology company S1T2, Tash has driven the successful ideation and execution of a number of innovative programs and campaigns utilising a variety of technologies including virtual reality, interactive installations and tangential learning tools. Tash’s... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 12:15pm - 12:35pm
Room 104


Hypothesis Tested: Designing Social Impact Games with Theoretical Frameworks
With games being designed that seek changes in intention, attitudes and behavior it’s more important than ever that we evaluate the games we design and understand their true effects. A team from the University of Miami designed a game-based intervention with the goal to reduce intentions to indoor tan. We found that games can be a powerful persuasion tactic but not always in the ways one would expect! Join us as we share our design process and findings, which indicate the importance of knowing your target audience and how there isn’t a one-size fits all approach to designing such interventions.

avatar for Clay Ewing

Clay Ewing

Assistant Professor, Department of Interactive Media, School of Communication, University of Miami
Clay Ewing is an award winning creative technologist with a focus on social impact games. Professor Ewing’s projects have tackled issues such as vector borne diseases, the cost of health care, cancer, social safety nets and labor practices. Clay has worked with numerous non-profits... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Room 104


Using Behavior Change Techniques to Improve Game Outcomes
Behavior change is an elusive goal for many social impact game designers – impact that is commonly targeted but less frequently achieved. How can designers improve the behavioral outcomes of their games? This talk will examine how games can successfully employ traditional Behavior Change Techniques (BCTs) to enhance the outcomes of their games. Presentation will include a brief process for evaluating BCTs and integrating them into game designs. The talk will explore examples of existing games that have successfully employed BCTs to achieve effective change to guide and inspire designers to create more influential games.

avatar for Emily Treat

Emily Treat

Director Experience Strategy, Mad*Pow
Emily is a game designer, producer and strategist who explores the cross sections of design, technology and social impact. She has consulted on over 200 social impact gaming initiatives and oversaw development of multiple award winning titles. Emily led development of Half the Sky... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 2:30pm - 2:50pm
Room 104


Panel - Adventures in WHOville: The Proposed Gaming Disorder's Impact on Games for Change
Have you heard that the World Health Organization proposed including Gaming Disorder in the ICD-11? Media including CNN, BBC, and Rolling Stone have spread the news. The ESA and IGDA have spoken against the decision. This panel calls you to combat the negative impacts from the WHO classification and associated media attention on our Games for Change community. Panelists will address WHO actions and the continued critique of games from social and scientific communities, present research findings and heuristics to critically assess claims, and equip attendees for meaningful dialogue around this classification driven by evidence, findings, and knowledge.

avatar for Jennifer McNamara

Jennifer McNamara

Vice President Serious Games, BreakAway Games
Jenn McNamara, Vice President at BreakAway Games, is a recognized global leader in the Serious Games industry. For the past 15 years, Jenn has led teams creating game-based learning and assessment solutions. Her novel games have over 100,000 government, medical, and corporate users... Read More →

avatar for Kelli Dunlap

Kelli Dunlap

Mental Health and Games Manager, iThrive Games
Kelli is a psychologist and game designer. She is the Mental Health and Games Manager at iThrive Games, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the well-being of teens through games. Kelli presents regularly at psychological and games industry conferences on games and mental... Read More →
avatar for Lindsay Grace

Lindsay Grace

Director, American University Game Lab
Lindsay Grace is a professor and founding director of the American University Game Lab and Studio. His work has been awarded by the Games for Change Festival, the Digital Diversity Network, Black Enterprise and others. He has given talks at the Game Developers Conference, SXSW, Games... Read More →
avatar for Victoria Van Voorhis

Victoria Van Voorhis

Founder and CEO, Second Avenue Learning
Victoria Van Voorhis, founder and CEO of Second Avenue Learning, is an EdTech innovator, a dynamic thought leader, and a former Digital Rochester Technology Woman of the Year. At Second Avenue, Victoria’s pioneering yet practical vision is the foundation for the company’s award-winning... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 3:15pm - 4:00pm
Starr Foundation


Using Two-player Co-op to Examine the Interaction Between a Psychosis Sufferer and a Bystander
Debris is a two-person narrative co-op game that portrays psychosis in a respectful and empathetic way. One player unknowingly undergoes symptoms of psychosis (including hallucinations and systematized delusions), and the other does not. They need to find a way to navigate and reconcile their diverging realities to make it out alive. Although the implicit narrative and underwater setting are designed to immerse players (figuratively and literally), the real gameplay and story emerges from how players choose to navigate and communicate the differences in their experiences.

avatar for Nick Bush

Nick Bush

Project Lead, Moonray Studios
Nick is a project lead at Moonray Studios, a digital production house that has created and developed numerous sites and interactive experiences over the past 10 years. Along with Moonray’s founder Dan Clark, Nick is part of the creative force behind Debris. Working with Dr. Suzanne... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 4:15pm - 4:35pm
Starr Foundation


Neurogaming and Mental Health in the Era of Techlash
Digital technology holds tremendous promise for health promotion, but in the age of “techlash” how do we take the best that the digital ecosystem has to offer while avoiding its pitfalls? I discuss this issue using as an example the stress- and anxiety-reduction mobile app Personal Zen. Personal Zen is a brief, micro-intervention that gamifies a neurocognitive intervention for stress and anxiety called attention bias modification (ABMT). ABMT reduces habits of paying attention that drive the vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. I describe how Personal Zen and other neurogaming approaches are uniquely effective in the age of techlash.

avatar for Tracy Dennis-Tiwary

Tracy Dennis-Tiwary

Founder, Personal Zen
Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary is a Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Hunter College and the City University of New York. She has translated two decades of her research on stress and anxiety into the development of the stress-reduction app Personal Zen, which has been featured... Read More →

Friday June 29, 2018 4:45pm - 5:05pm
Room 104


Brain Age: A Well Played Retrospective
What makes a game good? or bad? or better? Building on the Well Played books and journal and the success of lives sessions, we will explore a game at the festival to help analyze the gameplay experience and open up a discussion around the unique positive social impact games can have. The goal is to help develop and define a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience.

avatar for Clara Fernandez-Vara

Clara Fernandez-Vara

Associate Arts Professor, New York University

Friday June 29, 2018 4:45pm - 5:15pm
Mainstage - Tishman Auditorium