The Government Wants You to Play with Your Food

Mar 11, 2010, 8:02 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

In a move that underscores the potential for digital games to improve health and healthcare, the US Department of Agriculture together with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative announced yesterday a competition for apps and games “that encourage children directly or through their parents to make more nutritious food choices and be more physically active.”

The Apps for Healthy Kids competition will award $40,000 in prizes in two categories: Tools and Games.  All entries will be judged on their

  • Potential impact on target audience;

  • Quality, accuracy, and content of message;

  • Creativity and originality;

  • Potential for further development and use; and

  • Potential to engage and motivate target audience. 

Judges include Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy; Eric Johnston, Senior Software Engineer, LucasArts; and Steve Wozniak, Co-founder, Apple Computer, Inc.

When USDA was thinking about this contest, they pulled together a group of folks for advice, including Debra Lieberman, National Program Director for our Health Games Research Program; and, Ben Sawyer, who runs the Games for Health Conference, which we support. 

Kudos to the USDA for seeing the value of games and to Debra and Ben for their contributions.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.