After the success of its anti-cyberbullying campaign in High School Story, mobile developer Pixelberry Studios has partnered with another company, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), to tackle another major teenage issue: negative body images.
Through an in-game update, High School Story players follow fictional character Mia, who overhears a negative comment about her body. Mia starts engaging in unhealthy eating habits, in a storyline based on research from Pixelberry and NEDA, which teaches players about the causes and negative consequences of “body image stress.”
Through the update, players gain access to frequently asked questions, and are encouraged to use an in-game support system if the story affects them and they’d like to receive help.
During the game’s similar cyberbullying campaign, over 100 players per week were directed to professional counselors through in-game resources, and over $250,000 was raised through in-app purchases for the associated charity, The Cybersmile Foundation.
“Eating disorders are no game,” said Claire Mysko, who oversees NEDA’s teen outreach program and online community, www.Proud2BMe.org. “But it’s important to speak to kids in their own language and that means being online, in social media and even games. Proud2Bme works extensively with young people to address the issues of poor self-esteem and body image, which can lead to the development of an eating disorder in those who are predisposed. We are grateful to Pixelberry Studios for this opportunity to work together.”