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!
“The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are in the midst of a global transition in which digital “screens” are no longer simply entertainment devices and distractions; rather, young people are currently living in a hybrid reality that links digital spaces to offline contexts. It is clear that the current generation of young people is growing up in a digital ecosystem unprecedented in its ubiquity and complexity! With Wisper, we aim to create a space that helps young people connect authentically with others and themselves.
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.
Welcome to Detour, the innovative mobile game designed to help youths quit smoking by offering guidance, social support, and goal setting. Developed by a team of researchers, game developers, and youths, Detour utilizes cutting-edge psychology research to distract from smoking urges, build healthier habits, and focus on a smoke-free future. With daily reminders, just-in-time interventions, and an AI-generated art feature for motivation, Detour empowers young individuals to lead healthier, happier lives. Join the community today and take the first step toward a smoke-free future!
Ken Koontz joins a panel discussion about "Critical perspectives on the therapeutic potential of videogames" at the Neurodiversity and Games Symposium.
A storytelling podcast celebrating indigenous history, culture, perspectives, and creatives.
Cinekid for Professionals is an international industry event during the Cinekid Festival in October, this year streaming online.
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
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