2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Building Empathic Games for Healthy Outcomes

#sxsw #gamefeels


As anyone who cried when Aeris died knows, it’s easy to fall in love with your favourite game character. One of gaming's biggest strengths is the ability to allow players to form deep emotional bonds with characters. Empathizing with characters helps players understand themselves and others. Navigating difficult scenarios in a game world helps us manage our lives and provides a sense of belonging.

Games have enormous potential to be used as interventions for mental health promotion, but the majority of mainstream games don't address mental health and inclusion in a purposeful way.

Game designers working on LongStory, a queer-positive dating game for pre-teens, will lead a conversation on narrative and choice mechanics that call for empathy, growth and reflection. We invite gamers, interactive designers, health care professionals and entrepreneurs to discuss with us how designers can include white-label health interventions in their games to build emotional resilience through play.



Michelle Hamilton-Page

Mgr Social & Mobile Innovation

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Michelle is the Manager of social and mobile innovation at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. She is responsible for developing, maintaining and evaluating strategies that engage target audiences through new and social media. Michelle has the privilege to work with a team building tools and solutions to engage diverse communities of allied health professionals and clients and families through dynamic, relevant, client-focused communication. As a social media consultant, Michelle combines experience in communications and social marketing in the private sector with 15 years of experience in Ontario-wide non-profits, and most recently the public sector. She is involved with Toronto’s social innovation community and brings a passion for community and social networking and an ongoing curiosity for new media and technology that facilitates open and dynamic communication.


Miriam Verburg

Game designer

Bloom Digital Media

Miriam Verburg specializes in creating inspiring online and mobile products for children, youth & women, shaping experiences that help people feel good about themselves and the world. After 10 years experience in Montreal working as a program director and web developer with non-profits and cultural organizations Miriam made the jump to game design and kids UX in Toronto and hasn’t looked back. Her work in the non-profit sector, particularly that with young people, and communities with specialized needs has given her a nuanced understanding of the realities of user experience & design for healthy outcomes. Her company Bloom Digital Media is a full service digital agency with a focus on games for health, health promotion, youth development and social enterprise.

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