Ken Koontzonline

Creative Director of GEMH Lab
Short bio

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!

Top-3 games
  1. Dota: Underlords
  2. Warframe
  3. Ark: Survival Evolved
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My Website

“The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.”

David Bohm

About me

My background in architecture from Florida A&M University and my own all-consuming passion for media arts (movies, books, comics, anime, TV, etc.) lead me to joining the video game industry in 2007 as an Environmental Artist for Rainbow Studios | THQ.  I went from creating game art assets to designing level encounters, learning the importance of lateral thinking, and generalization over specialization.  I had to be a jack-of-all-trades and find solutions within immovable constraints.

Moving into the world of applied gaming, I joined the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab (GEMH Lab) in 2015.  Over the years here, I have substantially grown both emotionally as well as professionally and now approach design/development with an inclusive perspective.  I gather valuable input from stakeholders, subject matter experts across disciplines, and of course the end user.

A constant iterative process of: Build - Play - Learn - Repeat 

As owner of Koontz Interactive, I now seek to work with enthusiasts of any discipline that want to harness the power of play to achieve a positive behavioral change.

Projects I’ve worked on

  • Category
    Anxiety | Depression
    Date
    05/10/2022
    Study/Course
    Location

    Social Games as Prevention Tools for Depression in Adolescents

    About the project

    In my PhD project I study social games for the prevention of depression. In my project I take part in both the development and testing of games. I want to use video games to help youth become more emotionally resilient and to decrease the stigma that surrounds depression. I do this in close collaboration with other researchers and game designers. I am particularly interested in games that are played in a social context, because I believe that both social threat and social support are key factors in the development and maintenance of depression.

    view this project

  • Category
    Resilience
    Date
    05/10/2022
    Study/Course
    Location

    Reducing Stress Through Virtual Social Support

    About the project

    People with large social networks on average live longer, happier, less stressed lives. We can potentially leverage video games and virtual spaces to increase the experience of social support and impact daily stress and anxiety. Therefore, this project aims to show that virtual social support can lower stress, and potentially impact stress coping behaviours.

    view this project

  • Category
    Behavior Regulation
    Date
    05/10/2022
    Study/Course
    Location

    Designing and Testing a Game Intervention to Help Youth Quit Smoking

    About the project

    Smoking is one of the leading public health problems in the world. In the Netherlands today, still 1 in 4 youth between the ages of 16 and 25 smoke. Even more worrisome is that there are almost no evidence-based interventions available to help them quit smoking. That’s why we, in collaboration with scientists, game designers and smoking youth, developed and tested a game to help youth quit smoking. HitnRun is a mobile game in which you can train your impulse control, and in which you collaborate in teams, support each other’s quit attempts, and compete against other teams.

    view this project

  • Category
    Resilience
    Date
    24/04/2018
    Study/Course
    Location

    Facing the Challenge Together: a Social Game for Emotional Resilience

    About the project

    Our research aims to transform young people’s mental health by developing and testing a social game for resiliency when facing stress events. Working in collaboration with the Award winning studio Aardman Animations, we want to harness the important mental health implications of both social support and mindsets, to develop a fun and engaging intervention.

    view this project

  • Category
    Behavior Regulation
    Date
    23/04/2018
    Study/Course
    Location

    DUST: Decisions Under Stress Training - A Biofeedback Training in Virtual Reality for police officers

    About the project

    The work of a police officer can be seen as an evolutionary paradox: in places and situations where most people would fall prey to survival instincts of self-preservation, police officers ought to act calm, with proportionality and benevolence. This is why police officers need to train control over their responses to threat as much as possible. To enable this, we develop a virtual training environment with real-time biofeedback. We combine virtual reality and biofeedback to create a personalized, realistic training experience, while honing state-of-the-art technology and psychophysical theory.

    view this project

  • Category
    Social Media
    Date
    31/08/2020
    Study/Course
    Location

    XCAVO: Realigning Your Digital Life

    About the project

    Digital media are designed to serve many different functions: socialising, working, building relationships, as well as playing and being entertained. In this project, we seek to understand the impact of different features of digital media, and help youth align what they value and love with what they do on digital platforms, in order to increase wellbeing and coherent identity development.

    view this project

  • Category
    Resilience
    Date
    18/07/2022
    Study/Course
    Location

    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

no future events are set.

Archive


My publications

  • Developing and Testing ScrollQuest: A Video Game Targeting Rejection Sensitivity in Adolescents

    Tuijnman, A., Granic, I., Whitkin, J., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2017). In CHI PLAY'17 Extended Abstracts: Extended Abstracts Publication of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (pp. 213-221). New York, NY: ACM.

    Author: Anouk Tuijnman

    Upload date: 10-15-2017

  • The Sims: A Social Improvement Mechanism for Adolescents

    Lobel, A., Engels, R., Tuijnman, A., de Valk, T., & Granic, I. (2013, April). Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA.

    Author: Adam Lobel

    Upload date: 04-15-2013

  • Mechanisms of Change in a Go/No-Go Training Game for Young Adult Smokers

    Scholten, H., Luijten, M., Poppelaars, A., Johnson-Glenberg, M. C., & Granic, I. (2021). Health Psychology, 40(12), 998-1008. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0001068

    Author: Hanneke Scholten

    Upload date: 07-01-2021

  • A Randomized Controlled Trial to Test the Effectiveness of a Peer-Based Social Mobile Game Intervention to Reduce Smoking in Youth

    Scholten, H., Luijten, M., & Granic, I. (2019). Development and Psychopathology, 31, 1923-1943. doi: 10.1017/S0954579419001378

    Author: Hanneke Scholten

    Upload date: 06-17-2020

  • Use of the Principles of Design Thinking to Address Limitations of Digital Mental Health Interventions for Youth: Viewpoint

    Scholten, H., & Granic, I. (2019). Journal of Medial Internet Research, 21(1), e11528. doi: 10.2196/11528

    Author: Hanneke Scholten

    Upload date: 06-16-2020

  • Deep-Breathing Biofeedback Trainability in a Virtual-Reality Action Game: A Single-Case Design Study With Police Trainers

    Michela, A., van Peer, J. M., Brammer, J. C., Nies, A., van Rooij, M. M. J. W., Oostenveld, R., Dorrestijn, W., Smit, A. S., Roelofs, K., Klumpers, F., & Granic, I. (2022). Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 29. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.806163

    Author: Abele Michela

    Upload date: 02-10-2022

  • Breathing Biofeedback for Police Officers in a Stressful Virtual Environment: Challenges and Opportunities

    Brammer, J. C., van Peer, J. M., Michela, A., van Rooij, M. M. J. W., Oostenveld, R., Klumpers, F., Dorrestijn, W., Granic, I., & Roelofs, K. (2021). Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 586553. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.586553

    Author: Jan Brammer

    Upload date: 03-12-2021

  • Reducing the Noise of Reality

    Michela, A., van Rooij, M. M. J. W., Klumpers, F., van Peer, J. M. J. M., Roelofs, K., & Granic, I. (2019). Psychological Inquiry, 30(4), 203–210. https://doi.org/10.1080/1047840X.2019.1693872

    Author: Abele Michela

    Upload date: 01-04-2020

Worked together with

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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

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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

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Joanneke Weerdmeester
Behavioral Scientist at GEMH Lab

Researcher, psychologist, PhD-candidate, gamer, dungeon master, language enthusiast and lover of all things geeky.

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Self-Employed Consultant

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Erik van den Berge
Game Designer at GEMH Lab

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

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Technical Support Group Specialist

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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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Staff Vice President, Design and UX at Anthem, Inc.

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Maaike Verhagen

Assistant Professor within the Developmental Psychopathology group of the Behavioural Science Institute

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Assistant Professor

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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

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Hiromitsu Morita

researcher

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Researcher

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Marieke van Rooij

Assistant prof. and data geek at the GEMH lab, dynamical modelling, personalisation, wants to put the I back into AI, news junkie, cat lover.

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Assistant Professor

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Maartje Luijten

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Assistant Professor

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Wil Cunningham

William Cunningham is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto and holds a cross appointment in the Marketing Area at the Rotman School. Research and Teaching interests in: Affective Science, Social Cognition, Neuroscience, Attitude and Evaluation

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Associate Professor, University of Toronto

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