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Uploaded on Jun 23, 2009

With funding from the Ministry of Health, a team of specialists in treating depression in
young people, learning technologists, young people and cultural advisors have joined
forces with Metia Interactive www.metia.co.nz (a local computer game development
company) to design a self-help computer programme (CD-ROM) called SPARX. SPARX
combines a fantasy setting with skills for life.

It uses a 3D animated game environment and a custom-made soundtrack to engage young
people and teach them skills to manage symptoms of depression, in a self-directed learning
format. Users are able to customise their avatar and journey to seven Provinces, each with
a unique set of challenges and puzzles.

The Guide explains how the skills in the game relate to the challenges a young person may
face in the real world. Young people learn cognitive behavioural therapy techniques for
dealing with symptoms of depression (e.g. dealing with negative thoughts, problem-solving,
activity scheduling, relaxation, etc). It can be used with minimal oversight. Our project is
based on a successful pilot study carried out by Dr Karolina Stasiak, as part of her PhD .

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