Health and Wellness: Games Can Motivate Players To Achieve Personal GoalsBy John-Paul Kwasie May 17, 2011
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Using game elements to prompt new ways of thinking about healthy living and wellness can layer new types of social interactions, incentives, and rewards onto the challenges of making lifestyle changes or rehabilitating illness.
Jane McGonigal maintains that game playing, among other effects, turns players into urgent optimists and enables blissful productivity. When healthy living is reframed as a game—often a social game—with points to accrue and short-term, attainable goals to achieve, players become motivated to meet the long-term goals of healthy living. (Apps and accessories like Fitbit and LoseIt offer a lot of these “quantified self” tools, but they’re not very game-like.)
Games that compel players to initiate and engage with personal challenges over the long-term are likely to prove successful. “The real disruptors are likely to be those who use gamification as a significance-amplifier, as a tool to help people achieve durable, tangible gains that are difficult, challenging, or downright impossible otherwise,” writes Umair Haque, economist and blogger for Harvard Business Review.
Health Month is a social, personal wellness game where players choose to actively limit bad habits and experiment with good habits that matter to them—while also “competing” with other players. In recent news, Apple announced its in-development Fitness Center App for iOS, which tracks users’ exercise progress and also integrates their location information so they can easily find workout partners and related events.
Games and Healthcare
As game elements extend further into personal wellness and healthcare, people are finding that these systems of rules and rewards can be excellent tool for long-term motivation; they can also present players with very tangible rewards, such as health gains, cost reductions, a sense of community and new social connections, and so on.
Header image courtesy of Jeff Sandquist’s Flickr, (cc) some rights reserved.
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