3 Reasons Gamification Might Get You Healthy
This post is an opinion piece highlighting several reasons Gamification can be a powerful mechanism to affect human behavior, especially when paired with emerging technologies and social marketing tactics.
+1 For Wellness
Gamification continues to be a hotly debated topic with many preaching the benefits of adding game-based functionality (rewarding of points, earning of badges/rewards) to what would normally be a routine task or series of tasks, while contrarian views have arisen stating that the movement is nothing more than the newest marketing fad, and quite an exploitive one at that.
At its core, the gamification movement is about assuaging a human being to act a certain way, over another way. In essence, to change behaviors over time through repitition of actions and subsequent (and varied) rewards for those actions. For those interested in getting more than a remedial jump-start regarding understanding the logic and social mechanics behind the gamification movement, I recommend reading Game-Based Marketing.
Like any new tactic or technology, innovators will seek to apply new techniques to advance their service or product and this is certainly the case in the greater gamification landscape. It is leading some to think the movement is already becoming diluted as humans simply don’t have the bandwidth to play all these games.
Escaping the above macro-view of the entire gamified landscape and focusing on one sector where gamification is having impressive results might serve as a better way to look at the effectiveness of this movement. I believe the topic of wellness is the perfect space to examine gamification more thoroughly. There are 3 main reasons gamification can be so impact-full in the wellness arena.
Competition is a Pillar of Gaming
It’s true, not everyone is playing a game to win. In fact, four different types of players have been identified (achiever, socializer, explorer, killer) each with different desires as it pertains to why they are playing the game in the first place. But within each player category, individuals are still competing, some more actively and openly than others, but all competing on some level. Competition is innate to games which leverage such tactics as scoreboards, levels, achievements and earned status. As it relates to wellness, weight-loss and social motivation to lead a more active life-style, competition is an extraordinarily powerful motivator. Keas.com is a company focused on setting up healthy competitions within organizations. They leverage gamified tactics and at their core, the game itself is one big competition. Enjoy their video below.
NFC Technology Will Level-Up the Games We Play
For those who feel the broader gamification realm is already diluted and won’t have the impact many profess it will, I only suggest reading up on the emergence of NFC technologies. Saying gamified applications won’t take hold, based on today’s technological landscape would be akin to saying social networking would never take-off back in 2003. Just like social media and social networking needed the advent of the Web2.0 movement to really blossom, gamification is patiently awaiting (or perhaps helping to bring about more swiftly) the coming 3.0 era where inter-connected devices “talk” with one another for specific purposes in order to benefit the human receiving the data.
An early leader in this space is clearly NIKE with their “run-away” hit series NIKE+. We can only expect their team to continue to push the envelope with regards to how they leverage newer NFC technologies and the ways in which they can affect humans to be healthier and more fit. But don’t think they are the only ones preparing new devices that work seamlessly with other connected data points. There is a lot of buzz being generated over a new wrist-band device simply called Up (created by Jawbone) and a favorite in cyclist circles is the powerfully simple Strava mobile app. Applications and devices such as the above will only be enhanced as technologies progress. Though it’s impossible to predict the future, clearly devices that are synced more and more often to everyday wellness decisions have the potential to sincerely affect the choices a human being makes. And that can be very powerful. Enjoy the NIKE+ video below.
You Can Really Feel That
Perhaps the most logical and simple argument as to why gamification can be a game-changer specifically in the wellness category is due to the fact that the human being playing the game will actually feel the results. Playing a game to earn a free cup of coffee or receive an upgrade to first class on your next flight might be all the motivation someone needs to partake and do so consistently. But feeling better in a pair of jeans, lowering your blood pressure or simply eroding that stubborn 10 lbs. is another level of gratification and leads me to believe that gamificaiton in the wellness sphere has a long, long way to run.
Are there other devices, applications and gamification techniques you’d like to share with the TopCoder Blog audience? Please do so in the comments below.
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Image Credit: wellworksforyou.com
Video Credit: keans.com, nikerunning.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikeplus/en_US/