Apps for Healthy Kids “Game Jams” Coming to a City Near You

In unveiling the Childhood Obesity Task Force action plan earlier today, First Lady Michelle Obama underscored the need to “marshal every resource” to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Two new partnerships announced today as part of the Apps for Healthy Kids competition will give Americans across the country a chance to join the First Lady in her Let’s Move! campaign—and to help give kids the healthy lives they deserve.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would partner with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) to host game jams on the weekend of May 21-23 in major U.S. cities, including Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta. The game jams will draw game developers, graphic artists, and local youth together to brainstorm ideas and produce video game prototypes from scratch in just 48 hours. The prototypes will be displayed at the sixth annual Games for Health Conference, further refined, and ultimately submitted to the Apps for Healthy Kids competition before that competition’s June 30th deadline. You can find out more about jams near you on the Health Games Challenge website.

Launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the White House Office of the First Lady, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on March 10, 2010, the Apps for Healthy Kids competition challenges software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop innovative, fun, and engaging tools and games that help kids and their parents eat better and be more physically active.

The game jams—which will be scheduled in a number of additional cities soon—will be great opportunities for amateur and experienced game developers to collaborate on competition entries and refine their creations before submitting them. But you don’t need to travel to join in creative collaboration! Developers across the country can now get targeted feedback from the toughest of critics—tweens—anytime and anywhere. Recognizing that kids can’t be beat when it comes to judging whether a game will capture the imagination of their peers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with Numedeon, Inc. to create a space within the virtual world Whyville.net where hundreds of thousands of tweens will be able to play, rate, and submit feedback to Apps for Healthy Kids contestants. Developers seeking feedback can post their game prototypes in the Whyville Game Arcade.

By creating opportunities for our nation’s most creative and talented innovators to work together and with our nation’s children, the two new partnerships announced today will maximize the number of high-quality submissions throughout the remaining 60 days of the Apps for Healthy Kids contest.

Robynn Sturm is Advisor for Open Innovation to the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

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