New SPARX website improves user experience for e-therapy game

SPARX, a free e-therapy game that helps New Zealand youth with mild to moderate depression, has a new website that improves user experience

SPARX website

Around the world, unprecedented numbers of young people are experiencing mental health challenges. No system has the resources to help them all individually, quickly and adequately.

SPARX is designed to be part of the solution by helping youth with mild to moderate depression through a free online game that’s both fun to play and evidence-based.

Now a new version of the website on which the game is hosted will improve user experience by making it easier to navigate and giving it a more contemporary, appealing look and feel. The new website will go live on 8 March 2023. The game itself is not changing at this time.

SPARX is based on research from Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of ӰAPPthat found that the game helped youth aged 12-19 who were feeling down, depressed or angry to feel better over time by teaching them self-help skills. SPARX has been freely available within Aotearoa New Zealand since 2015.

Based on cognitive behavioural therapy, SPARX teaches players to cope with negative thoughts and feelings by thinking about them in a more balanced and helpful way and encouraging them to do things they enjoy or that give them a sense of achievement.

“Everyone feels down from time to time,” says SPARX Project Manager Dianne Wood. “Sometimes those feelings go away, but if they don’t, SPARX may be able to help you. There are heaps of different things you can do to help you feel better and using SPARX is a great place to start.”

“SPARX takes what may seem like really huge and impossible problems and breaks them down for you into small steps you can take – which makes finding a solution seem achievable,” says a SPARX user.

SPARX Version 2, which was released in 2021, introduced new characters and upgraded graphics and navigation control. More changes are underway as the team responds to user feedback and works to improve experience of young people.

SPARX is a project of the and is wholly owned by UniServices, the research application and commercialisation company of the University of Auckland. The game can be played on a computer or mobile device and anyone in New Zealand can register for free.

To learn more or sign up, visit .