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Video Game-Based Learning Organization iThrive Games Promotes Heidi McDonald to Senior Creative Director!!

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Award-Winning Video Game Designer and Writer Oversees Nonprofit’s Game Development Projects and Developer Outreach Activities

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (SEPTEMBER 7, 2017)iThrive Games — a nonprofit that partners with game developers, researchers and youth organizations to facilitate the positive use of video games to enhance social and emotional skills — today announced the promotion of Heidi McDonald from Creative Director to Senior Creative Director. In this new role, McDonald is responsible for leading iThrive’s strategy for partnering with game developers and scholars across the world to increase the production of meaningful video games that support positive development.

Since joining iThrive in October 2015, McDonald has made numerous vital contributions to the organization, including selecting game development projects to fund and co-produce — such as the empathy-focused games Companions (with Filament Games) and Cycles of Empathy (with 1st Playable Productions). McDonald also led the effort to build iThrive Design Guides, resources to help developers design around positive psychology concepts like empathy, growth mindset and curiosity. The Design Guides are developed and tested through two projects — iThrive Design Hives, think tanks that explore the intersection of games and positive psychology, and iThrive Game Jams, which guide developers in creating innovative game prototypes focused on positive psychology themes.

McDonald will also play a key role in scaling up activities that extend iThrive’s reach within the game industry. Most recently, iThrive announced a partnership with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon to sponsor a semester-long student project on game design and positive psychology, as well as produce a collaborative peer-reviewed special issue of Well Played, a journal focusing on how games can support personal growth and thriving.

Prior to joining iThrive, McDonald was a designer and writer at the award-winning studio Schell Games where she worked on nine titles including PlayForward: Elm City Stories, The World of Lexica and Orion Trail. Her key role on the Orion Trail writing team contributed to the game receiving an honorable mention for Excellence in Narrative from the Independent Games Festival (IGF) in 2016. In recognition of her achievements in game design, McDonald also won Women in Gaming’s Rising Star Award in 2013. McDonald earned her double major B.A. in communications and film and digital media.

The iThrive team is composed of leading professionals in their respective industries who are passionate believers in the power of video games to promote emotional and social learning in adults and teens. In addition to McDonald, other team members include Dorothy Batten (President and Founder), Susan Rivers (PhD, Executive Director and Chief Scientist), Jane Lee (Director of Production), Michelle Bertoli (Director of Content and Lead Science Writer), Cat Wendt (Community Manager) and Sean Weiland (Associate Producer).

For more information about iThrive, please visit

About iThrive Games

iThrive Games is a team of social and emotional learning experts, psychologists and game developers that work to produce meaningful games through collaborations with game studios as well as experts in teen development and positive psychology. The iThrive Games team embraces the love of video games, and explores how great games can empower people to discover and use their unique strengths, unlock their potential and take charge of their well-being. For more information about iThrive Games, please visit

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