According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), an estimated 20 million teenagers across the nation are unhappy with the way their bodies look. That number has prompted a huge surge of eating disorders among high school students and young adults, especially girls. In an effort to meet these at-risk females on their own turf, Pixelberry Studios teamed up with NEDA to create a new mobile game that combats negative body image and eating disorders.
A Spotlight on Body Image
The free game app, High School Story, already hosts an astounding 10 million players, 60 percent of which are female. With research indicating 4 out of 5 females have body image issues by the time they are 17-years-old, using a mobile game for a sounding board made perfect sense.
Pixelberry Studios launched the new version of the High School Story game on Thursday, June 12. They also plan to provide a prominent in-game link to NEDA's teen-focused site, Proud2BMe, for added access to the game.
With expert input and guidance from NEDA, Pixelberry developed a story line that follows a character named Mia. After overhearing a group of girls making fun of her body weight, Mia sets out to change her appearance at all costs.
The game’s multiple plot lines deal with high school scenarios teenagers commonly face: extreme dieting, body hatred, and an urge to digitally alter photographs to slim thighs or flatten the belly. For example, players will watch as Mia begins an unhealthy diet plan and extreme exercise regimen. They’ll even see her use Photoshop on yearbook pictures to appear thinner.
Pixelberry and NEDA both benefit from this partnership, but their collective mission is to help millions of teenagers struggling with body issues. High School Story achieves that goal by providing:
- Educational resources specific to eating disorders among teens
- Easily understood information about the causes and consequences of body image issues
- Helpline staff from NEDA will respond to players who write via the in-game support system with questions about eating disorders
Additional Games with a Positive Message
Similar games on the market include the app Personal Zen, which incorporates scientific methods clinically shown to reduce anxiety levels while playing, or the PBS Kids online game Beat the Bully, where users outsmart bullies and boost self-esteem.