Accessibility statement

DIG4IT: Digital Intervention Games for Implementing Therapy

Specific phobias in children are upsetting and debilitating because of the extreme fear and avoidance of animals, insects, needles, blood, vomit, enclosed spaces, heights, certain foods and noises, and many other situations that are part of day-to-day life. It is often difficult to engage children in therapeutic activities for phobias, because therapy can be seen as stigmatising, tiresome and ‘school-like’.

Given the popularity of gaming with children, we wanted to develop a “serious game” that can help them learn and apply clinically informed therapy techniques independently and intuitively without relying on lengthy explanations or demonstrations from a therapist.

The aim of the project is to develop a game to help children understand and apply graded exposure therapy for specific phobias. This can be done by translating the principles and techniques of a comprehensive graded exposure therapy programme into gaming mechanics, which age-appropriate playful activities accessed via a digital interface.  

We held a series of co-production workshops that brough together the expertise of professionals from healthcare and education, the experience of children and adolescents, the support of parents and carers, and the skills of game designers and software engineers. The workshops with professionals and game designers included a presentation and a discussion group, whereas the workshops with children and parents were interactive with “physical” rather than digital games games, quizzes, panel shows, small group brainstorming, whole group discussions and wind-down activities.

Related links

Funded project, Centre for Future Health, University of York: Digital games to tackle common mental health problems in children and young people

EPSRC-funded PhD award: Intelligent Games and Games Intelligence (IGGI) Doctorate Training Programme

Case study: Co-production reference guide for academic researchers  

Fight your Fears: The Game   

Audio podcast: The Story of Children’s Mental Health 

Talk: University of York Research Impact Conference  



Funder Wellcome Trust through the Centre for Future Health at the University of York (Knowledge Exchange, Impact & Translation - KIT Fund)
Start date 01 January 2018
End date 31 December 2018


Internal staff

External collaborators


Words Fight your Fears