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Family of Heroes


Resiliency & PTSD role-playing game for families of veterans




Family of Heroes is an online role-playing training game designed to (1) help families of returning veterans learn essential skills to manage common challenges in adjusting to post-deployment life and (2) connect more veterans experiencing post-deployment stress with VA services.

In the game, players enter a virtual environment and engage in three conversations with emotionally responsive avatars that exhibit signs of PTSD, TBI, depression, and thoughts of suicide. The avatars act and respond like real veterans experiencing post-deployment stress, thereby providing users with hands-on practice within a realistic and risk-free learning environment.

The game was developed in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs of NY/NJ and included input from over 100 family members and veterans. Released in November 2011, the game has been made freely available through licensing agreements with federal and state agencies to the families of over 1.4 million veterans living in New York, New Jersey, Arizona, and Virginia.

A randomized, controlled study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Games for Health: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications in October 2011, found that Family of Heroes is an effective tool to engage families to motivate veterans who exhibit signs of post-deployment stress to seek help at the VA (82% of family members approached their veteran to discuss their concern after completing the training). More about this research can be found here.

Family of Heroes was developed using Kognito’s proprietary Human Interaction Game Engine™, which is based on research in social cognition, neuroscience, and motivational interviewing. Kognito is a NYC-based developer of role-play training games in the areas of health and behavioral health.

Game is no longer available. 

Funder: Veteran Affairs NY/NJ Healthcare Network, Kognito