Since 2008 Jennifer Ann's Group has been preventing teen dating violence through video games. Our "Life.Love. Game Design Challenge" rewards game developers for creating video games about teen dating violence (TDV) without using violence in the game design.
ABOUT THE LIFE.LOVE. GAME DESIGN CHALLENGE
We will be launching our 7th Life.Love. Game Design Challenge on February 15, 2014. Over the years we have received entries from around the world. In 2013 we received registrations from five different continents and the winning games are from Argentina, Ireland, Thailand, and Belgium.
The winning games are available for schools, parents, and teens at no cost. We currently have 1 game available through the Amazon Appstore for Android devices and are seeking funding to port the rest of our games to Android and then to iOS. We currently have 19 award-winning video games on our website to play via web for free.
We have accomplished this on a very small budget; annual donation receipts are less than $50,000 per year.
The first year (2008) the first place prize was $1,500 and for 2013 first place was $6,000. Although this money is not insignificant - it is far less expensive than paying for game development.
Additionally, many of our judges are highly regarded game industry professionals. Because many of our entrants want to enter the game industry, they appreciate the opportunity to have their entries judged by people who are well known within the industry.
With respect to the actual games, the goal is to increase awareness and provide educational information about TDV. The challenge is to create games that accomplish this while while maintaining some degree of "fun" and at the same time not using any violence in the game.
USES OF OUR GAMES
Our games have been played hundreds of thousands of times and we know that they have increased awareness about the problem of TDV. We also believe that they provide educational information to help teens identify an abusive relationship and how to seek help (or how to help a friend).
They've been used in classrooms by teachers and administrators who are increasingly tasked with educating their students about relationship abuse due to recent (and necessary) state legislation requiring that TDV be taught as part of the Health curriculum.
The games have also been helpful for parents who want to learn more about TDV - especially the warning signs of a potentially abusive relationship - as well as parents looking for an easy way to broach this topic with their teen.
The novelty of our approach to use video games to tackle a serious social issue (fairly unique back in 2008) and to prohibit the use of violence (still unique in 2014) has resulted in media coverage from NPR, HLN, Newsweek, Wired, Polygon, and many others. Additionally, the founder of Jennifer Ann's Group has had the opportunity to speak at several conferences domestically and internationally about our use of video games to prevent violence. As a result we now have local contacts in many countries who can assist us in utilizing our games (and other resources) within their own countries - many of which have yet to address "domestic" violence / IPV (intimate partner violence) at the national level. Accordingly awareness of TDV in those countries is almost nonexistent. With funding we will localize our resources and introduce this information to other countries in order to break the cyle of IPV early.
Although we know that our approach has been successful, we also know that a valid study is necessary to validate our efforts. Our hope is to initiate this process during the National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (February 2014). In February we are going to also launch our 2014 contest (February 15th, the day after Valentine's Day). We will also continue our efforts to make more of our games available for mobile and tablet use as well as identifying how to localize for use in other countries.
ABOUT JENNIFER ANN'S GROUP
Jennifer Ann's Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed in 2006 in memory of Jennifer Ann Crecente, a high school honor student who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend on February 15, 2006 (the day after Valentine's Day). The group was founded by, and is run by, her dad.
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