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SPARX wins at the Worlds Summit Awards 2011

31 May 2011

SPARX an e-therapy game developed to help young people combat depression has won a World Summit Award winning in its category e-Health and Environment.

SPARX was developed by a team headed by Assoc Prof Sally Merry from The University of Auckland, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Health and developed by Metia Interactive Ltd from Auckland. 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 platform it uses to engage users and because over 180 young people have been involved in a trial to test its effectiveness. The evaluation of SPARX has shown that young people found it effective, engaging and helpful. One in four young people experience an episode of clinical depression by the age of 18, and three quarters of these young people never receive any help, this programme has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of many young people in New Zealand and internationally.

About the World Summit Award and the United Nations

The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global not-for-profit activity in the framework of the United Nations to select and promote best practice in e-Content production and creativity in innovative Internet applications.

Computer gaming to combat youth depression

19 May 2009

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences - The University of Auckland

Young people around the country will trial an innovative new ‘e-therapy’that uses computer gaming to teach self-help for depression, in astudy to be launched at The University of Auckland tomorrow.

The e-therapy – called ‘SPARX’ – uses an interactive 3D fantasy game to teach young people the skills they need to cope with challenges and manage their mood. The goal is to help lift young people out of depression and prevent symptoms from returning in the future.

“This is the first programme that brings together new gaming technologies with established counselling principles and specific learning techniques in this way,” says Dr Sally Merry, lead researcher for the programme. “It is designed to appeal to young people and ensure they receive self-help messages clearly.”

SPARX is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, a proven therapeutic approach that teaches more positive ways of thinking and problem solving skills. “Using computer technology that young people are comfortable with is one way of making therapy more accessible, practical, and hopefully more fun,” says Dr Merry.

Depression is common among young people and accessing help can be difficult. One in five New Zealanders will have experienced clinical depression by their eighteenth birthday. Three quarters of young people with depression never receive treatment, and those who do have often progressed to very severe depression. “We want to intervene earlier and more effectively,” says Dr Merry.

A successful pilot trial has already demonstrated the promise and popularity of e-therapy with young people. The study to be launched tomorrow will enrol up to 600 New Zealanders aged 12 to 19 years with mild to moderate depression. Half will use the new game and half will receive standard treatment through their doctor, school counsellor or other provider. Smaller studies will also assess the appropriateness of SPARX for Maori youth, same-sex attracted young people, and those in alternative education.

Results of the research are expected in late 2010 and if the trial proves successful, SPARX will be made publicly available through the Ministry of Health’s youth depression website

SPARX was initiated by researchers, clinicians, and learning technologists at the University’s Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Department of Psychological Medicine. It was developed with input from Maori, Pacific people, and other cultural groups in New Zealand.

The programme was created with the assistance of Metia Interactive. A number of actors, musicians and artists have generously donated their time and skills to the project. The work is funded by the Ministry of Health.

Contact Pauline Curtis, Communications Adviser

Ph: 09 373 7599 ext 83258 or 021 97 00 89 Email:


Cube on the PlayStation Store

8 September 2008

D3Publisher to Bring Classic PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) System Games to the PLAYSTATION®Store for the PC for Download in North America

PSP System Gamers Will Now Have Access to Favorite D3P Titles Including the Original and Wildly Popular Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords®, Critically-Acclaimed Dead Head Fred® and more—no UMD Required!

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Premier publisher of interactive entertainment software, D3Publisher (D3P), will bring its classic PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system titles to gamers for download via the PLAYSTATION®Store in North America beginning this September. PSP system owners will no longer need a UMD to play critically-acclaimed PSP system titles such as WTF: work time fun™, a crazy collection of fun and addictive mini-games, the original Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords®, 2007’s multiple award-winning cult hit that blends match-three puzzle gameplay with strategy, character-building elements and a persistent storyline, Dead Head Fred®, a head-swapping, third person-action game and more.

“D3Publisher is always looking to make fun and original gaming experiences easily accessible to everyone,” said Yoji Takenaka, president and chief executive officer, North America and Europe, D3P. “We believe that making these classic PSP system titles available via digital distribution gives the games a new opportunity for discovery and the gamers a second chance at hours of enjoyment.”

D3Publisher’s Line-Up Includes:

Cube™ – Offering highly addictive puzzle solving action, Cube challenges players in single or multiplayer modes to make their way through suspended 3D worlds of platforms and mazes jam-packed with collectible items and obstacles. Cube will be available for download on September 18, 2008 for $9.99.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords – The genre-bending title that took the gaming community by storm at the top of 2007 incorporates strategy, role-playing elements and a persistent storyline into a match-three puzzle board setting, has received numerous awards including Best Downloadable Game at the 11th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, a Best Puzzle Game of E3 2007 Award from and the esteemed iParenting Media Excellent Product Award for 2007. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is designed specifically to entertain both casual and hardcore gamers-on-the-go with its deep immersion, five to fifteen minute play sessions and turn-based play style. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords will be available for download on September 18, 2008 for $14.99.

WTF: work time fun – A crazy collection of fun and addictive mini-games, WTF drives players to perform sometimes trivial, sometimes mind-bending, but always fun jobs in pursuit of the almighty dollar. WTF will be available for download on October 2, 2008 for $9.99.

PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient™ – Using a measuring system that was created under the guidance of Professor Masuo Koyasu of Kyoto University in Japan that determines players’ ‘Practical Intelligence Quotient’ or PQ, players move blocks, avoid walls and lasers, pull switches and maneuver with maps to reach their goal to solve more than 100 3D logic puzzles. As players solve the puzzle within a shorter time frame and with fewer moves, their PQ scores improve. PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient will be available for download on October 2, 2008 for $9.99.

PQ2: Practical Intelligence Quotient™ 2 – A follow-up to PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient, the critically acclaimed PQ2 calculates players’ intelligence by using the PQ scoring system as they solve more than 250 mind-bending puzzles. PQ2 will be available for download on October 16, 2008 for $14.99.

Dead Head Fred - In Dead Head Fred, players will adventure as Fred Neuman, a private detective savagely murdered and then resurrected in a bizarre scientific experiment without his memory or his head. Players will embark on a quest for vengeance as they solve their own murder by using the severed heads of enemies to battle their way through challenging but bizarre environments. Dead Head Fred will be available for download on October 16, 2008 for $14.99.

For more information on D3P’s products, please visit:

Cube nominated for the World Summit Awards

21 August 2007

Metia Interactive is proud to announce our nomination in the World Summit Awards in the category for e-Entertainment for the Cube game for PlayStation Portable.

New Zealand at the World Summit Award 2007

Wellington August 21, 2007

The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global initiative to select and promote the worlds best e-Content. The WSA was started in 2003 in the framework of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). See for the NZ site and for the global site.

New Zealand has chosen eight projects to enter into all 8 categories for the 2007 World Summit Award. For the first time NZ is joined by five projects from the Pacific. This gives this region very substantial exposure

This years World Summit Awards Gala event will be held in Venice in early November.

The successful entrants will have prolonged global visibility through the WSA Roadshow & also the opportunity to be part of a major new ideas showcase in 2008 in Wellington.

The beauty of the WSA is the opportunity to take the best NZ has into an international arena. In the past we have relied heavily on our commodity base for international trading. We now know the new value lies in the migration to the future models for wealth creation for NZ. Whilst NZ has demonstrated its cleverness in the commodity sphere, the new layer innovative technology is playing is important. WSA provides a very good platform for NZ. It is great to participate in a network that is aiming to building a better world through new media.

The NZ submissions for the WSA are:

e-Entertainment: Cube is an unconventional styled game and breaks away from the usual character based games while providing an exciting strategic puzzle challenge. Cube greatly challenges one's spatial skill, especially the ability to visualise and navigate in three-dimensional space -

e-Government: Te Ara is being prepared by the New Zealand Government as the first born-digital national encyclopedia in the world.
Te Ara is drawing on the expert knowledge of people throughout the New Zealand community to present the latest information about this rich and diverse country in a lively, engaging and interactive way

e-Health: The Kitchen presents a revolutionary approach to food safety training, simulating a commercial kitchen environment in full touch-screen 3D. Within this simulated context, trainees are taught the basic principles and application of good food safety, giving them a real world context for the application of these skills and ensuring high transference of knowledge from simulation to workplace. This disruptive new solution will engage a broader audience than any other food safety standards before it, ultimately resulting in better food hygiene standards worldwide.

e-Inclusion: Kete is an open source Web 2.0 tool for a community built digital archive of related material. A Kete (or basket) of topics may be related geographically, by subject, by source or in any other way. Kete enables people with little computer experience to share their stories and songs and memories and photos. It was designed from the ground up to be easily downloaded and configured by a layman for use by small rural communities with poor internet connections and no professional IT support on hand -

e-Learning: Hectors World (HW) is a visually stunning, creative learning resource that prepares very young children for a lifetime of confident and wise online citizenship. Hector™s World offer innovative cyber-safety education for children (2-10 years) with free, interactive online content (episodes, safety buttons, lesson plans, puzzles etc). This content effectively promotes ethical decision-making and critical thinking skills.

e-Science: Geneious is a platform independent, Java-based, web-enabled application. It allows scientists to swiftly search, organize and analyze genomic information. Geneious™ has been created by scientists for scientists. It includes unique features, such as patented data mining algorithms with connections to the worlds most important scientific databases, secure collaboration features, and tools like interactive teaching tutorials and plug-ins developed by leading scientists -

e-Culture: The Te Puia galleries in Rotorua, New Zealand represent the latest convergence of digital and tactile interaction design for indigenous cultural tourism.
The Whare Tapere gallery is based on years of research and consultation with key Te Arawa kaumatua (elders), and uses 3D game technology and multi-user interaction to introduce visitors to the layers of stories in the Whakarewarewa gallery. This preserves the history of the valley in a form that is engaging and accessible. The kaumatua, Te Kepa Marsh, passed away at the culmination of the project, and this has become an irreplaceable living record of his wisdom and knowledge.
The Think Maori gallery is an immersive space that combines animated films and interactive experiences to show how Maori culture is seen through the forms of the Whakarewarewa landscape. It is designed to be a tool for guides rather than an independent experience, as the local Maori guiding economy is a crucial lifeblood for the region. The work demonstrates the preserving and presenting cultural heritage in line with the challenges of the future.

e-Business: Details to be announced shortly

The three judges for the New Zealand WSA entries are Janet Mazenier, Peter Macaulay & Jan Bieringa,

Jan Bieringa, the NZ WSA co-ordinator is traveling to Croatia for the WSA global judging panel to be held in early September. She is excited to take New Zealands best and most innovative entries to this global event.

Further details available from:
J a n B i e r i n g a
Ph: 64 4 385 9435
Mobile: 027 535 7370
Coordinator: NZ World Summit Awards

Peter Macaulay President InternetNZ,, 021 772606

This project has been generously supported by InternetNZ