Our Approach

We are social scientists with a strong foundation in developmental science, clinical psychology and affective neuroscience. We are committed to designing and empirically evaluating an entirely novel prevention and treatment approach for young people's emotional and mental health, an approach that harnesses the intrinsically motivating properties of video games and their immense potential to teach new forms of thought and behaviour. We test the impact of already-commercialized video games as well as games we co-develop ourselves. Ultimately, we want to engage and empower young people to choose the interactive media experiences that best fit with their self-expressed emotional needs and to share those experiences with friends and family that might likewise benefit. 

Who We Are

Designing, testing and implementing effective, commercial-grade games for young people's emotional and mental health is a complex initiative that requires diverse expertise. We are a one-of-a-kind multidisplinary lab and extended network that incorporates senior faculty, PhD students and international award-winning game designers. There are virtually no validated games that target mental health issues. We are among the first team forging this new ground, with artists, programmers and designers working alongside graduate students in developmental psychopathology, clinical psychology and education. More information on the talented individuals that make up the GEMH lab and the varied PhD and design projects can be found below.

Information that will help you share our story can be found in our press kit.


Dr. Isabela Granic - Director of GEMH Lab

Industry professor McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.  

To learn more about Dr. Granic and/or to inquire about possible collaborations, please click here.

Research

We are a research and development lab that aims to establish the scientific foundations for effective mental health games. We empirically validate our games with rigorous research designs, we share our data publicly, and publish our results regardless of outcomes. We are also committed to developing a theoretical framework and new methodologies that stipulate how to use games to experimentally test theories of psychological change.

DIG DEEPER...PARTICIPANTS

Design

Our international partners include developmental psychologists, neuroscientists, veteran game developers, and artists whose objective is to harness the power of play to transform children's emotional lives. We co-design game experiences based on empirically validated principles, together with clinicians, parents and children themselves.

GAMES COLLABORATE

Our people

  • Isabela Granic
    Director of GEMH Lab

    Professor and Chair of the Developmental Psychopathology department in the Behavioural Science Institute; writer; voracious podcast consumer; mother of two upstanding little gamers

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    Professor at McMaster's University & Co-founder of PlayNice Interactive

    Contact
  • Hanneke Scholten
    Co-Director of GEMH Lab

    Researcher, interdisciplinary work and collaboration, wants to understand the how's and why's, loves her high heels and coffee in the morning, walks and talks too fast.

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    Assistant Professor at University of Twente

    Contact
  • Ken Koontz
    Creative Director of GEMH Lab

    GEEK, Game designer, artist, producer, anime and video game enthusiast, American football player, and as of recently a newb gardener. I'm pretty much always down for new ventures and experiences - O' ley do it!

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    Founder of Koontz Interactive

    Contact
  • Nastasia Griffioen
    Chief Scientific Officer

    Nerd, is fascinated by the brain even more than your average zombie, into etymology and reading, drawn to anything tech-related, especially artificial intelligence. Wants to explore social tech (such as social media) and how these relate to young people's wellbeing.

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    Post Doctorate

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  • Denise Dicks
    Knowledge Translation Officer

    Design researcher, list maker, photographer and alt print maker interested in the intersection of art and science. In the spring of 2023, I completed my MS in Information Studies at UT Austin where I focused my studies on accessibility and user research and wrote my thesis on accessibility in art museums.

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    Design Researcher

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  • Bloombox Group
    Community of Rockstars

    Creating digital tech that makes a real impact on human flourishing.

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    Not a Collective...

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  • Erik van den Berge
    GEMH Sessions Producer

    Game developer, VR-guru, mocap artist, animator, video editor, and all-round problem solver. Avid gamer, movie lover and knowledge sponge.

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    Multimedia Designer at Radboud University

    Contact
  • Joanneke Weerdmeester
    Researcher at GEMH Lab

    Behavioural scientist, lecturer, consultant, gamer, dungeon master, language enthusiast, and lover of all things geeky.

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    Freelance Consultant

    Contact
  • Suhaavi Kochhar
    Researcher at GEMH Lab

    Researcher, PhD candidate, passionate plant mom, fitness buff, people person, suffers from an optimism bias, ESFJ and enneagram type 2. Especially keen on translational science; it's time we burst the bubble!!!

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    PhD-Candidate

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  • Abele Michela
    Researcher at GEMH Lab

    Phd student working on a training program for Dutch Police incorporating Virtual Reality and Biofeedback.

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    PhD-Candidate

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  • Aniek Wols
    Researcher at GEMH Lab

    I am interested in how and why applied games for mental health work, with a specific focus on the influence of one's mindset, motivation and expectations.

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    PhD-Candidate

    Contact
  • Tom Hollenstein
    Collaborator

    Associate Professor in Developmental Psychology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

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    Associate Professor at Queen's University

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  • Evan Hirsch
    Collaborator

    I work with clients to design ecosystems, adapt bleeding edge research and develop end-to-end strategies that help improve the lives of their patients, practitioners and users.

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    CEO and Co-founder of PlayNice Interactive

    Contact
  • Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff
    Collaborator

    I am not so interested in *whether* certain interventions work but *how* they work. That is, I am mainly focusing on underlying processes and mechanisms of change across diagnostic categories and different treatment modalities. Mother of two wild boys!

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    Professor of Orthopedagogics at University of Groningen

    Contact
  • Marlou Poppelaars

    I am a Postdoctoral researcher passionate about internalizing psychopathology prevention and the use of technology and innovation for this purpose while stimulating intrinsic motivation. I love to read, cook and bake everything delicious. Working on finishing my dissertation and Two Dots (Level 3682 and counting).

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    Postdoc

    Contact
  • Anouk Tuijnman

    I am a passionate researcher interested in improving the well-being of young people with the use of innovative interventions.

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    PhD-Candidate

    Contact
At the end of the day we are all a bunch of 1337 nerds trying to use our powers for good ...

and taking over the world, whichever comes first!

┌( ಠ_ಠ)┘      ☜-(ΘLΘ)-☞       ╘[◉﹃◉]╕
3%

Amount of pizza left after a GEMH Lab Game Night

75%

Female Game researchers in the GEMH Lab

100%

F.U.N.

Funding

About the funder

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research supports a strong system of sciences in the Netherlands by encouraging quality and innovation in science. Our conviction is that scientific research contributes to our prosperity and well-being and that it provides for our growing need for knowledge: for facing societal challenges, for economic development and to better understand ourselves and the world.

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About the funder

The ERC operates according to a "curiosity-driven", or "bottom-up", approach, allowing researchers to identify new opportunities in any field of research. Accordingly the portfolio ERC funded projects spans a wide range of topics and research questions.

Since 2007, more than 6,500 projects have been selected to receive ERC funding throughout the EU Member States and the associated countries. The ERC has received over 62,000 project proposals for its calls.

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About the funder

ZonMw (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) funds health research in the Netherlands and promotes the actual use of the knowledge this research produces.   Our aim is to promote quality and innovation of health research in order to make health care better and to keep it affordable. 

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About the funder

GGZ Oost Brabant stands for "Personalized health care for you and your family".  We provide safe humane mental and emotional health care services for the citizens in the Brabant province of the Netherlands.  Working together with the client we are looking for the best solution, as far as possible, tailored to the personal situation.  Our help can be as simple and short, or as intensive and long-term as needed, but always accessible in the clinic, in the neighborhood or online, sometimes at home.

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About the funder


Innovations at the heart of human flourishing

Templeton World Charity Foundation supports a diverse group of researchers in the discovery of new knowledge, development of new tools, and launch of new innovations that make a lasting impact on human flourishing.

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About the funder

Joy Ventures is on a singular mission - to build and support companies developing science-backed consumer products that help people experience moments of everyday joy and improve their mental wellbeing.

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About the funder

The National Growth Fund invests in projects that make the greatest possible contribution to sustainable and structural economic growth. The National Growth Fund does this together with initiators and other investors. With the National Growth Fund, the government is allocating €20 billion for projects between 2021 and 2025.

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About the funder

KWF is against cancer. But above all we are pro-life. So that everyone can live life as much as possible. Whether you have cancer, have been cured of cancer, know someone close to you with cancer, are no longer getting better or want to know what you can do to prevent cancer.

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About the funder

The Erasmus+ programme gives people the opportunity to study, train, undertake work experience and volunteer abroad with the aim of boosting skills and employability, particularly amongst young people, in the Netherlands.

Erasmus+ also supports transnational partnerships among Education, Training and Youth institutions and organisations to foster cooperation and bridge the worlds of Education and work in order to tackle the skills gaps we are facing in Europe. It also supports Dutch national efforts to modernise Education, Training and Youth systems.

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About the funder

The Creative Industries Fund NL is the national cultural fund for design, architecture and digital culture. We finance innovative design projects of makers and cultural institutions in the creative industry. Many of these projects are interdisciplinary.

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About the funder

The bond between science and society is strong, although it does not always feel that way. How do we bring science closer to society? We do this through the National Science Agenda (NWA).

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) carries out the NWA research program on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The NWA finances scientific research, studies social questions and shows how science works. This always concerns themes that play a major role in society. These are topics that citizens themselves have suggested. The NWA also introduces everyone to science in an accessible way through all kinds of activities. From a science festival for children to a program at Lowlands.

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Latest Projects View all projects

  • Project Lead Category Project Status
    Bloombox Group Transformative Tech Preparation

    Bloombox: A Toolkit for Creating Transformative Tech

    About the project

    Creating digital tech—whether it be videogames or apps—that makes a real impact on human flourishing is hard! Luckily, at the GEMH Lab we have amassed many lessons learned, tips, tricks and caveats over the years of our existence. All of which we aim to bring together in the Bloombox: a toolkit for creating transformative tech.

    view this project

  • Project Lead Category Project Status
    Bloombox Group Transformative Tech Preparation

    Play-Based Grieving in Minecraft

    About the project

    Children who experience the death of a parent or sibling can feel isolated and alone in their grief and often lack access to safe, supportive, and developmentally appropriate online settings where they can connect with other peers and caring adults who “get” their grief. ExperienceCraft is a youth-led, online community for grieving children, where they can play, connect, and learn with others who have experienced the death of a caregiver, sibling, or close member of their community.

    view this project

  • Project Lead Category Project Status
    Bloombox Group Transformative Tech Preparation

    The Social Healing Project

    About the project

    The Social Healing Project sets forth a new paradigm for social healing—one rooted in evidence-based indicators; imagined through holistic, interdisciplinary experience; refined by collaborative building; and made to be used, engaged with, and benefitted from by the public.

    view this project

RESEARCHERS

 

We Need Youth Advisors

Are you between ages 18-24 yrs old?
Earn compensation while working with game developers and researchers creating playful interactive media.



Click here to apply

PUBLIC

 

How can you play our Games?

If you are interested in learning more about how to access and/or play our games please contact us here so that we can direct your inquiry.




Click here to send inquiry