Logo: University of Southern California

"Trainer" Grand Prize Winner in White House Videogame Competition

Viterbi, Cinematic Arts, Roski and Social Work faculty and students come together to triumph
Eric Mankin
September 30, 2010 —

A student developed game built jointly between the USC GamePipe Laboratory and the School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media program won the top prize in the White House "Apps for Healthy Kids" competition.

The "Trainer" game was first shown at the GamePipe Laboratory’s December 2009 Demo Day. It was built with funds donated from the Humana Innovation Center.

"The Apps for Healthy Kids competition is a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Apps for Healthy Kids challenges software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop fun and engaging software tools and games that drive children, especially “tweens” (ages 9-12) – directly or through their parents – to eat better and be more physically active," according to the White House description.

A distinguished panel of expert gamebuilders, pediatricians and computer industry figures, including Apple's Steve Wozniak, plus White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra made the final choice of winners from among nearly 100 entries. The prize pool was $60,000, including the $10,000 grand prize won by the USC team, as well as travel expenses to go to the White House to receive the prizes. A separate prize, the $10,000 GE Healthymagination Student Award, also went to Trainer.

Trainers: (from left) Rita Yeung, Ross Danielson, Erin Reynolds, Tony Tseung,  David Villatoro

The PI for the Trainer project was MIchael Zyda, director of the USC Viterbi School GamePipe Laboratory, with co-PIs Marientina Gotsis, Interactive Media, and Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, School of Social Work.

The student team that designed and developed the game includes:

Producers - Erin Reynolds (Cinematic Arts) & Tony Tseung (Viterbi Computer Science)
Design Team - John Banayan, Erik Nichols, & David Villatoro (all Cinematic Arts)
Lead Artist - Rita Yeung (Roski)
Programmers - Joseph Kohn, Ross Danielson (VCS) & David Villatoro (CA alumnus)

The game can be played online here.

Watch a Youtube video of the game here

The GamePipe story about the game, including a video of the ceremony is here.

The complete list of prizewinners is here.

The development team and the faculty advisors toured the White House on the morning of the 29th of September, with an award ceremony following.

The competition continues. The Technology Office's Chopra has already announced its next contest, the Recipes for Healthy Kids challenge.