Friday, May 3, 2013

Questing Your Way to Health and Happiness

Just wanted to drop a quick post to highlight what I see as a really excellent example of gamification. SuperBetter is the first offering from the research lab of the same name, and it's a game designed to improve people's overall mental and physical health through activities that promote different types of resilience. (For more background, read this.)

Personally, I find that a lot of gamified activities aren't related to the overall behavioral issue they're trying to address, they don't provide clear incentives aside from "winning the game," and/or they require mass participation. (This is probably why I never used Foursquare.) What I love about SuperBetter is that it encourages you to do things outside of the game itself - in fact, you win by completing activities in your life that are totally outside of the game, like writing a note to a long-lost friend. And the wins don't come from the game itself, but are rather the positive consequences of completing an activity you know you should have done anyway. In other words, it doesn't reward you; it teaches you how to find rewards. (Also, it's beautiful. The experience of playing itself is very aesthetically enjoyable.)

The game has different modes for different types of health goals, and it seems particularly well-suited to  depression and anxiety, two conditions that can make even the smallest activities seem very, very daunting. Give it a shot - we'd love to hear others' experiences. (And for more background on the pros and cons of gamification, here are a few blog posts that offer a start.)

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