Playnormous Health-Edu Games Offer FREE Monster iMacs!

imacmonsterSept. 1, 2009 How do you improve K-12 student’s health knowledge, inspire creative writing, support eco-values of refurbished technology, and use whimsical hand-painted art of animated monsters to reach and teach?

Launch a Playnormous custom-contest of amped up art that looks like it crawled out of a Pixar flick!

Our friends at Playnormous (makers of the award-winning Escape from Diab, as well as arcade-style games for health like Food Fury, Juice Jumble, Lunch Crunch, and soon, Food Pyramid PileUp) are using their illustration prowess to create one-of-a-kind functional art pieces they’ll be awarding each month to educational venues throughout the 2009-2010 school year. (Official rules here)

Each original art piece uses different techniques and imaginative themes, hand-crafted by Playnormous staffers,  so instead of ‘wearable art’ it’s ‘functional art!’

These computers were briefly used in an obesity research project and are now customized cute critters, a perfect showcase for the school or library that submits the most creative use of their Playnormous health e-games, showing how they’ve impacted students’ attitudes towards exercise, eating, and physical well-being. Want in? Here’s how.

They’ll be awarding these FREE monster iMacs to schools monthly, using their innovation for education in this first-ever contest promo.

imac-meanbeanMind you, the team of researchers, clinicians, health game experts and Playnormous staff are some of the judges so the competition is stiff, but the artful computers are a ‘ginormous’ win.

Health and life skills educators, this is a great way to engage kids with applied science and put nutrition to work in a visual way…

Art teachers and business classes? It’s a hands-on opportunity to show how a product comes to life from storyboard to animation, concept to completion.

Language arts teachers? Get kids in on the essay writing of how the health games made them approach nutrition and exercise differently…

I’m personally interested in hearing how educators have used the games, since I know Playnormous puts considerable medical and developmental forethought into the ‘casual game’ design and scientific testing of outcomes and measures. So I’d love to glean some ‘best practices’ myself!

If I were one of those PTA auction-fundraising folks, I’d start writing my socks off, because if you score one of these beasties, imagine what you could auction it for as a donation item for the school, with parents bidding up the price from FREE to earn the library or school much needed cash and a showpiece item too.

Granted, I realize this is not their intent, but hey, times are tight, and why not go for a ‘value-add’ to leverage the system’s uniqueness and engage the school community to do good things? (the idea hamster in me is kicking in again)


I browsed through their gallery of ‘monster iMacs’ and each one-of-a-kind creation has a personality of its own. (all are 100% authentic Apple, built in iSight camera, remote/keyboard/mouse and Intel Dual-core processor etc.) and absolutely FREE to the monthly winners.

Ah, but isn’t this ‘brand infiltration’ into schools?

No. Here’s why they get a hallpass imho.

First of all, I barely think even Apple would recognize their own systems the way they’ve been turned into these artforms…Here’s a sample descriptor on the various mediums used to create this original below:

“Iva’s creation was one of the first Monster iMacs to be unveiled. Her design was executed using several interesting types of art media–caffeinated media at that. Iva used orange spice tea and coffee stains to give this computer a soft, sophisticated feel. Red ink was dropped and blotted on key elements to bring the landscape to life. Rubber stamps and an inkpad were used to write the Playnormous name and tagline.

Iva’s monster scene features delicate flowers, striped trees and rolling hills. I count twenty-one new monster characters (maybe you can find more) ranging from cute puffballs on stick legs to colossal multi-eyed monsters with horns. A large shadow of the Playnormous Big Monster looms in the background. Not only is Iva’s Monster iMac amazing, it’s high in antioxidants!” (Name of Iva’s Creation? Mean Bean!)

imac-mbSecond, Playnormous is not a buyable brand, it’s a “serious games” company for educational pursuits, working with institutions like Baylor College of Medicine’s Children’s Nutrition Research Center…

And third, this type of cross-platform experimentation to have NON-branded food gaming as teaching tools based on nutrient and category is an informal learning alternative to jazz up  health sciences information they’d otherwise be digesting in textbook style.

Just as our own ‘Dare to Compare, Gross Out Game for Good Nutrition’ uses reality show entertainment formats to engage kids with hands-on counter-marketing games to fight snack attack/junk food dominance, this company is taking a digital approach to health using ‘arcade gaming’ techno tactics. Hard to believe it’s already been over a year since I stumbled upon Playnormous as an e-innovation winner at the “Flying Under the Radar” conference when Dizzywood’s virtual world took top honors as best in show…

Since then, they’ve really spring-boarded into the healthGAMERS arena in a monster way and made some amazing alliances and progress in the name of kids’ health, so I’m steadfast in supporting them any way I can.

playnormous teesAnd no, I’m not paid at all…

…Though this trio of Playnormous tees at left were swapped for S.Y. tees to cross-promote our orgs.

I also added their logo/link on our sidebar as a recommended resource, because they ARE one!

They have helpful teacher’s guides, parent education handouts and other ideas to get kids’ head in the game for health awareness. (You may recall I wrote about ’em here… )

Soon I intend to write and learn more on their healthGAMERS site too…Quick poll, though…How many of you thought the “featured links” at the right sidebar were PAID vs. PROBONO?

Curious, as we haven’t taken a cent and I’m wondering if it should read “Recommended Resources” instead? What makes sense for clarity? As I’ve said so many times, if we go for ‘underwriters’ or paid sponsors/partners YOU WILL KNOW ABOUT IT.

Anyway, here’s more, from the Playnormous summer launch letter detailing their back to school promotion for the monster iMacs.

So feed the monster, send ‘em some good idea essays, and I’ll publish the best ones here.

From the Playnormous Monster iMac Giveaway Newsletter:



“We are extremely excited to announce our first ever Playnormous contest.  During the 2009 / 2010 school year, Playnormous will be holding its Monster iMac Giveaway.  We will be giving away FREE Monster iMac Computers each month to health game playing public K-12 classrooms and libraries across the U.S.

What’s a Monster iMac you ask?  It’s a 100% authentic iMac with a hand-illustrated custom shell created by a 100% authentic artist at the Playnormous studio.  See the official rules for details on how to win your FREE Monster iMac!


We are in the process of putting the finishing touches on our next game Food Pyramid Pile Up. This strategy-based game will teach you and your kids all about what foods go in which food group and how discretionary calories work.

Learn what counts as nutritious, not just delicious. Expect Food Pyramid Pile Up on the site in the next month, complete with teacher curriculum and a free printable food pyramid poster.


We’ve had a monster amount of press this year.  Watch our interview with ABC News, read up on our company at Wikipedia, read our four star review by Common Sense Media, as well as local press like the Houstonist and Startup Houston. Stay tuned for the summer edition of Casual Connect Magazine with a two-page editorial written by our own Playnormous director of marketing.


Follow the latest and greatest news at the Playnormous studio by visiting Monster’s Blog, complete with new features like the Bust-a-Health Myth section and a list of our most popular posts.  See photos of Playnormous happenings on Facebook and even follow us on Twitter too.  For more in-depth information on health games, visit our newest blog, healthGAMERS.


Our Playnormous CafePress store is having its annual summer sale where you can save on all of your favorite Playnormous gear.  Grab a Healthy Monster Chef Apron for all those summer barbecues or a Feed the Monster Bib for your favorite little monster.


As a special thank you for joining the Playnormous mailing list, we will be giving away a FREE Playnormous t-shirt to the first 10 recipients who link to our website.  Simply visit the buttons page, copy the html of your choice, and paste it into your blog or website.

Reply to this message with the link, your name, mailing address, and size (YM, YL, S, M, L), and we’ll get that shirt out to you asap. Remember, shirts will be given on a first come first serve basis to the first ten respondents.

Thank you for your support as we continue to make health games fun!”

And thank YOU, Playnormous, for helping health researchers everywhere with your generous sharing of best practices and tips to make gaming work via play. Good luck to schools across the nation…It’s Sept. 1st…go for it! You’ve got all school year to win one! 🙂

A Few Related Resources on Shaping Youth

Shaping Youth: Nutrition/Wellness Category

Shaping Youth: P.A.C.K. Week (Pack Assorted Colors for Kids)

Shaping Youth: Show and Tell Tactics That Stick in Kids Brains

Shaping Youth: Using Marketing Methods to Sell Kids Healthier Foods

Shaping Youth/Two Angry Moms: Screen A Movie, Make A Difference

Shaping Youth: Using Shrek Against His Drek: Getting Kids to Eat Green!s

Health Gaming Resources

HealthGAMERS site

Health Games: A Rapid Analysis of the Scientific Literature 8-31-09)

HealthGAMERS: Didget: Nintendo & Diabetes Mgmt July ’09

Health eGames Market Report 2008

Games for Health 2008 Recap (e.g. Generation Fit: ExerLearning, etc.)

Gaming4Health Online Arcade: Games On Nutrition

Wii-habilitation for heartfailure patients

Gaming Conferences Summits & Mtgs. (note the number of health/gaming topics!)

Children in Virtual–Papers & Presentations, Spring ‘08

Web Worlds ‘Useful’ For Children (BBC News)

Study Finds Virtual Worlds Offer Good Real World Lessons for Kids (Switched, re: CBBC)

Games for Change: Public Health

Serious Games Initiative/Experimental Health Game Jam

Computer Games Teach Healthy Food Habits

Digital Games for Social Change (G4C Festival)

(Kotaku) Kids Who DON’T Play Video Games Are At Risk (?! source note)

Helpful Ways to Reduce Screen Time (NIH)

Kids Health & Nutrition for Back to School Days!

RWJF: IOM Releases Action Steps for Kids’ Obesity Prevention (9-1-09)

RWJF Readers Choose Most Influential Research (Aug.09)

Alliance for a Healthier Generation Chooses 114 Improved Schools (Aug.09)

RWJF: Study Finds Promoting Fresh Fruit & Veggies Increase Kids’ Intake

NYT: Lying About Vegetables: (people think they eat more than they do!)

NYT Magazine: Unhappy Meals (Michael Pollan)

Mayo Clinic: Vegetarian Diet, Can It Help Control Diabetes?

Health Day News: Obesity Rates Up in 37 States (report)

Prevention for America’s Health (ROI study, phenomenal!)

More Matters: Fruit & Veggies Database

More Matters: How Much Do Children Need



  1. Really excited about this! Will get this on over to Pulse + Signal as well!
    .-= Andre Blackman´s last blog ..Internships at Shaping Youth + Envision Solutions =-.

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