Why I'm in New York City at a ridiculous hour

Hi all. Quick update, since I realized I haven’t mentioned this and it’s kind of cool.

Flew out to NYC on a redeye about eight hours ago, and am hanging around in the JFK JetBlue terminal taking wifi sustenance until a more reasonable hour to head out into the city. I have meetings tomorrow and Tuesday for a project picked up rather serendipitously last year, and the folks at HumaNature are being nicely tolerant and supportive.

I mentioned awhile ago that I’d won a game design contest put out by the Games for Health initiative. This project is not related to that, but Charles, a guy from Stottler Henke, contacted me on the basis of what I’d designed for that project.

In 2004, Stottler Henke won an SBIR phase 1 grant to prototype a project called LifeSim, aimed at instructing kids — unless I’m mistaken, specifically in low-income urban areas, though they tested it broadly across socioeconomic statuses — on nutrition using a video game. So, pretty big coincidence that this was going on and I had no idea when I drew up the GfH design.

Last year, as one of my freelance endeavors, I worked with them to put together a proposal for a phase 2 grant, and by that I mean I spent a lot of time on the phone answering game design questions and they did all the work. They had high expectations for its passing, but — I think particularly with the election and administration change — it took quite a bit longer to get approved than initially estimated. But it HAS been approved, and I’m now a game design consultant working with them on LifeSim II.

It’s a very cool project, and if I weren’t so tired I would be beyond thrilled to be getting it started — but it is just tremendously exciting to see something like this go from concept to actuality, especially with the wonderfully intimidating team of experts they have working on this, from the Stottler Henke folk to the partners at Columbia University’s Teachers’ College — nutritionists and educators. I feel honored to be a part of it.

And I also have the Games for Health initiative to thank for prompting all of this. Turns out that contest is really having tangible results that, if we do our jobs right, will actually impact the problems of childhood obesity in the coming generation. And the NIH for providing the funds for this grant, and showing solid faith that games can make a difference.

And, uh, it’s a pet game. Also, I have an iPhone.

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