Research in preparation for scaling an evidence-based video game for childhood anxiety and emotional resilience
TWCF Number
Project Duration
October 1 / 2023
- October 31 / 2025
Core Funding Area
Other Charitable Purposes
North America
Amount Awarded

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Isabela Granic
Institution PlayNice LLC

Concerns about anxiety and challenges with emotional resilience in children have skyrocketed in the last decade, peaking during and in the aftermath of the pandemic, with up to 25-40% of children struggling with their mental health. Due to stigma, cost, and lack of access to effective support and learning programs, the vast majority of children do not seek help for their anxiety concerns. Cognitive Behavioral principles and practices are the current gold-standard for helping young people learn emotional resilience skills that increase hope, self-compassion, and reduce feelings of anxiety, yet outcomes are often disappointing, with only 40-60% of young people improving. While tech-based initiatives are offered internationally as a means of addressing barriers such as cost and access to programs, most of these approaches have proven ineffective with youth — they are generally pedantic, boring, and have little relevance to young people who have grown up immersed in a sophisticated, engaging digital ecosystem.

Mindlight is an immersive biofeedback video game developed by Isabela Granic and researchers at the Games for Emotional and Mental Emotional Health (GEMH) with demonstrated efficacy in reducing stress and anxiety in children and pre-teens (8-12 year olds). The game is based on scientifically-validated principles and practices that motivate and inspire youth to play, while at the same time training emotional resilience skills.

This project aims to enable the commercialization and distribution of MindLight, to realize the ultimate goal of making a global impact on prevalence rates of anxiety.

Key activities planned for this project are:

  • Developing an updated version of MindLight with compatibility for iOS and Android tablets, and with capabilities and access to a range of biofeedback devices;
  • Examining the reliability and concordance between neurofeedback and heart-rate devices meant to be the main controllers of MindLight; and
  • Feasibility and usability research with MindLight in a network of Toronto-based public schools, as well as an assessment of factors that predict schools’ willingness to pay for MindLight.
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