Gamifying Health and Fitness – Episode 4

So, it’s taken six weeks but we’ve finally introduced ourselves! The opening episodes focused on ‘our gamified world’ in a very specific sense – that is, the ways in which Danielle and Adam have applied gamification in their own work. From this point forward, that world will be expanded and you’ll see that our take on ‘our gamified world’ pivots on the phrase in the broadest possible way. From the beginning, our aim has been to explore, examine, and reflect on gamification in all different kinds of contexts, and this week we move on to looking at a completely different case study.

img_3803-by-abigail-batchelder-cc-by-2-0
IMG_3803 by Abigail Batchelder (CC BY 2.0)

If there is one area in which gamification is threatening to saturate the market, then health and fitness would arguably be it. Software installations often available by default on newly purchased devices, such as Samsung’s S health app, highlight an extra hurdle for creators looking to break into the market with a new innovation (or a slightly tweaked version of the plethora of options already available). In any case, the pervasiveness of these apps does reveal the perceived usefulness and importance of enabling users to monitor physical activity, eating habits, sleeping patterns, and more. At a time when many countries face an obesity crisis, the value of holding up virtual carrots before oneself to push oneself along is arguably no more evident than in the realm of fitness and wellbeing.

Building healthy habits with various kinds of incentives is not a new phenomenon. Adam recently wrote elsewhere about the ways in which his father used to motivate him and his brother to work out in the shed as teenagers through a highly effective – though admittely consumer-driven – reward system. This week we consider the vastly more complex system of the Pact app, which is also built on financial incentive but entails an intricate collaborative framework whereby a community of members indirectly ‘work together’ to attempt to obtain their goals. If this description is successfully vague, feel free to check out the episode below, where Adam and Danielle delve into what it means to make a pact to get yourself to the gym, or at least out of the house…

Thanks for watching, and happy gamifying!

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