03 Good health and well-being
  • Year: 2011
  • Award: World Summit Award
  • Category: Health & Well Being
  • Producer: Sally Merry
  • Organisation: University of Auckland
  • Country: New Zealand
  • URL:

SPARX is a computerized self-help programme to help young people combat depression. It was developed by a team of cognitive behavioural therapists, researchers, game developers, e-learning theorists and young people. SPARX takes the form of an animated 3D game where users learn real-life skills by solving challenges to rid a fantasy world from gloom and negativity. Culturally relevant elements have been incorporated into the game world to ensure the programme has wide cultural acceptability. SPARX is unique because of the gaming technology it uses to engage users and because over 180 young people have been involved in a trial to test its effectiveness. Feedback from the testers called SPARX effective, engaging and helpful. As one in four youngsters experience an episode of clinical depression by the age of 18, and three quarters of them never receive help, this programme has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of many young people in New Zealand and internationally.