Gaming Against Violence

Relationship abuse is pervasive and costly. Video games are the best way to engage and inform teens in order to stop teen dating violence.

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Relationship abuse is pervasive and costly. Video games are the BEST way to engage and inform teens in order to stop teen dating violence.

THE PROBLEM: Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence (TDV) is physical, sexual, or psychological / emotional violence within a dating relationship. Although over 40% of all students in the U.S. will have been in an abusive relationship by the time they graduate from college and nearly 1.5 million high school students are physically abused by a dating partner annually, the majority of parents (81%) do not believe or realize that TDV is an issue.

TDV has wide-ranging and long-lasting impacts:

- those affected are more likely to smoke, binge drink, and use drugs;

- approximately 80% of underage pregnancies are to adolescents in abusive relationships; and

- nearly two-thirds of teens in abusive relationships become adults in abusive relationships. The annual economic impact to businesses in the U.S. alone is over $13 Billion.

THE SOLUTION: Gaming Against Violence

The digital games from the Gaming Against Violence program address this need in a way no other medium can:

  • the games adapt and respond to the actions of players, handling nuance in a way that static content cannot;
  • the games safely immerse players in an otherwise dangerous situation, allowing players to benefit from contextual and experiential learning in a way other mediums cannot; and
  • the games’ ability to provide players a judgment-free, self-paced approach to this sensitive topic allows young people to evaluate the issue in a way that traditional approaches cannot.

Population Served:

Although young women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of violence, TDV affects adolescents regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. The games produced by Jennifer Ann’s Group are developed for ages 13+ but the Gaming Against Violence program is geared to all those in middle school through undergraduate school (approximately 11 through 22 years old).

Gaming Against Violence serves the entire community with a focus on adolescents, parents, and educators. These populations have vital roles to play in preventing TDV.


Since 2010 and the adoption of an annual Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month adolescents are more aware of the prevalence of TDV than ever but the underlying dynamic and nuanced nature of abuse necessitates the interactive self-paced approach only available through digital games. Although identifying physical or sexual assault is relatively straightforward, emotional or psychological abuse is much harder to identify – even for adults.

In the absence of healthy relationship modeling at home adolescents are left without an understanding of acceptable relationship behavior, relying instead on their peers’ behavior and popular culture to understand what constitutes "normal" dating behavior. As a result, unhealthy behaviors like jealousy and possessiveness are then regarded as “romantic.”Even those teens not in abusive relationships might be approached by a peer in need of help. Unfortunately those peers most often offer incorrect, victim blaming, or risky advice.


Parents need to become more aware of the problem of TDV to better educate and protect their children. Currently 81% of parents either do not know what TDV is or do not realize that it's a problem. Further, those parents who themselves are in abusive relationships are more likely to see their teen’s relationship problems as “normal,” perpetuating the dangerous cycle of abuse.


Educators must be made to understand the prevalence and impacts of dating abuse as well as learning the warning signs of potentially unhealthy relationships. Although adolescents prefer to turn to their peers for problems, those with self-worth issues instead prefer to turn to adult experts including teachers. As has recently come to light on college campuses, educators and administrators are often ill-equipped to appropriately handle issues of dating violence.

Further, since 2007 states have adopted legislation...

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86 participants from 10 different states in the U.S. in a controlled study shows the effectiveness of video games to positively affect attitudes regarding violence prevention.

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Preliminary study from December 2015 - February 2016 shows that after only 20-40 minutes of game play the participants showed a change in unhealthy relationship attitudes; the control group did not show any material change.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 58.96 kB - 06/07/2016 at 19:50



IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) is a complex and nuanced problem affecting millions of people worldwide. IPV usually begins with young people learning unhealthy attitudes toward dating relationships. ► If they do not see healthy relationship modelling in their parents then teens instead learn dating behavior from their peers or through the media. Teens in unhealthy relationships are much more likely to: drop out of school; become pregnant; engage in self-harm; become heavy alcohol or drug abusers; and become adults in unhealthy relationships. By teaching young people what is - and what isn't - acceptable dating behavior, they are able to decide for themselves what type of relationship they want.

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"Grace's Diary" has received international acclaim for its poignant approach to abusive relationships.

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"Another Chance" can be played in either English or French.

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  • Winning Games Announced

    drew.crecente07/06/2016 at 13:59 0 comments

    June 24, 2016

    The winning games have been announced and will be published within the next 4 - 6 weeks.

    The 2016 winning video games are:

    1st place is "The Room Beneath the Rafters" from Luciano Sgarbi of UK / Sweden. $8,000 prize, professional design review and feedback with Electric Funstuff, game published and promoted online and in major appstores, and game presented at conferences.

    2nd place is "Leaving" from Greg Heath-Kelly of Tetsudo of UK. $2,000 prize, game published and promoted online and in major appstores, and game presented at conferences.

    3rd place is "Honeymoon" from Sandra Lara Castillo of SNDR of UK. $800 prize, game published and promoted online and in major appstores, and game presented at conferences.

    Door prize is "A Casual Chat" from Andreas Lopez of Sphere 9 of USA. $200 prize and game published and promoted online and in major appstores.

  • Judging Finished

    drew.crecente07/06/2016 at 13:50 0 comments

    June 20, 2016

    All scores have been submitted and tabulated. The winning games will be announced on June 24th.

    Scoring Criteria

    All qualifying games are judged based on the following criteria:

    Educational Value (20%)
    - incorporating accurate information about teen dating violence

    Entertainment Value (20%)
    - providing a video game that people will want to play

    Increasing Awareness (20%)
    - offering an eye-opening experience to help people recognize the prevalence and ubiquity of abusive relationships

    Fostering Advocacy (20%)
    - empowering friends, family, and bystanders to get involved when they witness relationship abuse

    Game Elements (20%)
    - incorporating elements of game play like goals, rules, interaction, and competition

  • 2016 Games Judged

    drew.crecente07/06/2016 at 13:34 0 comments

    June 5 - 20, 2016

    All eligible entries distributed to the judges with scoring due back by June 20th. The judges are experts in game design and in teen dating violence.

    Judges Bios

    • Dan Butchko
      • CEO & Co-Founder, Game Developer
      • Dan Butchko oversees all operations for Playcrafting globally and carries out planning and execution of all New York activities. Through Playcrafting, Dan and his team work to empower and grow game development communities through events and education that cater to veteran and aspiring developers alike. He aims to help gamers and enthusiasts become developers and active developers become successful businesses.
    • Simon Carless
      • Publisher, Game Designer
      • Simon Carless is an EVP at UBM Tech, overseeing the Game Developers Conferences in San Francisco and Germany. He also oversees the double Webby award-winning Gamasutra website, and the Black Hat information security conferences. He has previously worked as a lead game designer at Kuju Entertainment, Eidos Interactive and Atari.
    • Brian Crecente
      • Journalist
      • Brian Crecente is a journalist and columnist, a founding editor and the News Editor for Polygon, he also writes Good Game, a weekly column internationally syndicated by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Crecente was named one of the 20 most influential people in the video game industry over the past 20 years by GamePro in 2009 and one of gaming's Top 50 journalists by Edge in 2006. He was featured in a 5280 biography. He has spoken at the Smithsonian, GDC, PAX and UCLA.
    • Drew Crecente, JD
    • Nina Freeman
      • Award Winning Designer
      • Nina Freeman is a level designer at Fullbright in Portland, Oregon. She is working on their current game, Tacoma. In her personal work, she is most often making vignette games based on her own life stories. She worked as a designer on IGF nominee "how do you Do It?" and IGF Student Honorable Mention "Ladylike." She designed the recently released "Cibele," a game about an online relationship created by Star Maid Games. You can find her work at, and you can follow her on Twitter at @hentaiphd.
    • Ruud Jacobs
      • Researcher
      • Ruud Jacobs is a PhD candidate at the Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. His work focuses on the impacts of persuasive games and the psychological mechanisms for their effects. He is part of the project Persuasive Gaming in Context that looks at persuasive games through three interdisciplinary focal points: theories of persuasiveness, design principles, and validation. Aside from his research, Ruud lectures in ethics and quantitative methods and also manages the research centre's digital research lab.
    • David Langendoen
      • CEO, Game Designer
      • David Langendoen is the president of Electric Funstuff (EFS), a NY-based design and development company founded in 1998 that specializes in applying motivational principles from the computer game world to the realm of educational software. EFS has designed and developed games across a range of subjects including reading comprehension, math, history, and financial literacy. Its signature program is the Mission US series of American history games, currently used by over 50,000 middle school teachers and their classes.
    • Dr. Jon Preston
      • Professor
      • Dr. Preston serves as the Faculty Executive Assistant to the President at Kennesaw State University. He was previously the coordinator for the Center of Applied Gaming and Media Arts (CAGMA) and coordinator of the Computer Game Design and Development...
    Read more »

  • 2016 Games Submitted

    drew.crecente07/06/2016 at 13:13 0 comments

    June 1, 2016

    All entries due before end of day (Eastern time zone) for the 2016 contest challenging game designers to create video games about teen dating violence without using any violence in the games themselves.


    • 5 Continents
    • 12 Countries
    • 35 Teams registered from:
      • Argentina
      • Canada
      • France
      • India
      • Philippines
      • Malaysia
      • Turkey
      • USA
      • UK
      • Sweden
      • Vietnam

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johndann wrote 05/31/2023 at 06:40 point

Gaming Against Violence is an innovative approach that harnesses the power of video games to promote positive social change and prevent child abuse. It's fascinating to see how technology and gaming can be utilized to address such critical issues. You can also discover here the article that highlights the importance of prevention strategies and awareness in combating child abuse, gaming can provide a platform for teaching children and adolescents about healthy boundaries, empathy, and communication.

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