USDA Announces Two New Partners in the Apps for Healthy Kids Competition to Help Improve the Health of Nation's Children
The International Game Developers Association and Numedeon, Inc. provide support and feedback for game developers to maximize high quality submissions
WASHINGTON, May 11, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the addition of two new partners in the Apps for Healthy Kids competition --the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and Numedeon, Inc., creators of the online virtual world Whyville.net. Both partners are offering unique opportunities for contestants to obtain support and feedback as they create games and software tools with a nutrition focus. As result, these partnerships are key in mobilizing talent and maximizing the number of high-quality submissions throughout the remaining 60 days of this national priority.
"Ending our childhood obesity crisis within a generation will require the help and support of innovative partners like Numedeon and IDGA," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The Apps for Healthy Kids competition is a great way to harness the combined creativity of game developers, local youth and adults to work collaboratively to produce fun, innovative games that promote healthy lifestyles. Both partnerships will have a tremendously positive impact on the competition and on improving the health and nutrition of kids across the nation."
IGDA is organizing a series of game jams to be held the weekend of May 21-23 in major U.S. cities, including Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta, among others. The purpose of the game jams is to bring together game developers and local youth and adults to work collaboratively and intensively for 48 hours to produce game prototypes from scratch. These events are anticipated to generate at least a dozen new submissions for the Apps for Healthy Kids competition. The game jams organized by IGDA are sponsored by the Games for Health Project in conjunction with the Health Games Research national program, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio, which supports innovative ideas that may lead to breakthrough improvements in the future of health and health care.
Numedeon, Inc. is creating a space within the virtual world Whyville.net for "tweens" (ages 9-12), the primary targeted user group of the competition, to play and evaluate contestants' games. Developers may post their game prototypes in the Whyville Game Arcade ( www.whyville.net/AppsForHealthyKids ), where Whyville's hundreds of thousands of users will be able to play, rate and submit feedback on the entries. "Tween" Whyville users, who evaluate games for contestants, will be rewarded within the Whyville virtual world. "We are very pleased to be part of this innovative effort to use kids' natural love of gaming to influence their food choices," said Dr. James Bower, CEO of Numedeon, Inc. and one of the founders of Whyville. "We are particularly excited about the opportunity this partnership will provide our children to influence the design of games being built for them, which will ultimately lead to higher quality submissions that deeply engage and inspire behavior change."
The Apps for Healthy Kids competition ( www.AppsforHealthyKids.com) is part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Apps for Healthy Kids challenges software developers, game designers, students and other innovators to develop fun and engaging software tools and games that will motivate children, especially tweens - directly or through their parents - to eat better and be more physically active. Submissions will be accepted through June 30, 2010.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is an active member of the Let's Move! team, alongside the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. The Apps for Healthy Kids competition is a collaborative initiative of the Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and its Food and Nutrition Service, the White House Office of the First Lady, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. For more information on the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, visit www.LetsMove.gov.
The International Game Developers Association is the largest non-profit membership organization serving individuals that create video games. The IGDA is committed to advancing the careers and enhancing the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community. For more information, please visit: www.igda.org.
Whyville.net is the premiere learning-based virtual world for children. Launched in March of 1999 as the first virtual world for children, Whyville now has more than 6.2 million registered users. For 11 years the site has successfully engaged its "citizens" to learn while having fun. In Whyville, children play, socialize, earn and manage virtual money, explore, design, eat, start businesses, dance, write, vote, campaign, and much more. Numedeon, Inc., the parent company of Whyville, was founded by scientists from the California Institute of Technology. The result of combining research and practical experience in learning and education with expertise in simulation, gaming, and virtual world technology, Whyville is a unique platform for learning and engagement. At greater than 30 minutes per log in, Whyville is also one of the stickiest and most engaging of all virtual worlds (ComScore Media Metrics). A testament to Whyville's dedication to education and safety, the site has won numerous media and parent awards, including a Gold Award for the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Children's Products Competition. Numedeon works with partners, like the USDA, to bring immersive learning experiences to the important but hard to reach tween demographic within the virtual world of Whyville.
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