Leveling-up in Real Life: The gamification of Health
I’m over 30 and still play video games. There, I said it. No shame whatsoever and there are many, many others who do so at this age or over as well. For me, gaming has been a pastime that stayed with me into adulthood. I’m a product of the 90’s and in addition to insisting it was by far the best decade in all aspects (it was) I also insist we had some of the best titles. Many of those game titles continue on today except with supercharged graphics, elaborate storylines, and the increasingly popular multiplayer modes. I can’t wait to tell the next generation when they are old enough to start gaming that back in my day, we didn’t have them online and the closest thing was to play in the same room using multiple controllers with our friends.
One of my favorites is Star Wars Battlefront. This is a game where its almost purely multiplayer and its exciting because not only am I playing against people from all over the world but we can all see how each player is ranked and certain trophies that are earned for completing varios tasks that are usually awarded based on difficulty. Every time I play it I feel a sense of accomplishment because even if I have a bad round I’m still earning fictional currency, and it adds up to buy more sills, armaments and unlockable content. I want to unlock as many characters and items as I can because there is a motivating “force” (pun intended) behind it. I’m by no means an expert or top player, but it’s the thrill of leveling up and knowing that I made progress keeps me coming back for more.
There are plenty of gamers out there that don’t like Battlefront. But I think it’s a safe bet to say that the majority of video gamers have one thing in common; we have a favorite multiplayer game or at least one where we can compare stats with other players online. We also have games where we communicate and play with online friends as a team to accomplish a goal. We became a competitive player and want to maintain that status for as long as we play. And if multiplayer isn’t your thing at all, I’m sure there is some game that you had tried to beat your own best score. Motivation is the driver behind leveling up whether it be compared to other individual players, your team against theirs, yourself, or all the above.
Any game, whether it be video based or otherwise has certain characteristics that motivate the individual to “level up” and sharpen their skills. This could be achieving higher batting averages or being able to lift heavier weights at the gym. Although I love coming home to the gaming console after a long day at the office there are times when I wish I had just as much motivation to hit the gym every day. I do enjoy lifting, but it got me thinking of a concept that really has potential to change the way we engage in activities that are good for us but difficult to endure on willpower alone.
A word that’s been tossed around in recent years is “gamification.” Which basically means taking an otherwise unappealing, challenging task and making it fun to motivate a person to continue through task completion or end goal and usually has a rewards system. The concept has been applied to many fields such as education, where learning is gamified instead of it being heads-down drudgery if we aren’t enthusiastic about the topic. Many learning apps for both children and adults alike use some combination of fantasy, role playing, storytelling and integrates a rewards system to keep you interested throughout each step of the learning process.
The same can be done for healthcare, fitness, and well-being. In my case, I want to be able to have enough motivation to get to the gym every day without viewing it as a chore that must get done so that my primary interest outside of my day job isn’t the Playstation 4.
Helix3 is an example of the gamification of healthcare. It’s an app that aims to build a community where health and wellness is gamified to motivate people to level up in the real world.
The app is a place where you can get a holistic view of anything related to your personal health by way of using the highly secure healthcare blockchain network where a “digital twin” of yourself is stored. When combined with a gamified approach to keeping yourself healthy it makes a compelling case to put you in control of your health data and be a better version of yourself at the same time.
In the app, you will be able to choose from a variety of sponsored challenges from fitness programs, races, yoga studios, meditation sessions, and spin classes to name a few. Activity can be tracked by either your personal wearable devices or by checking in with the program sponsor. Results and rank can be filtered for you to view and can share among the user community if you choose. Rewards are given in the form of Helix (HLX) tokens that can be exchanged in the Helix Marketplace for gift cards to an assortment of retailers. Over time, more health related merchants will join the community and offer additional rewards in exchange for Helix tokens.
It’s an idea that has a lot of potential for those people like me who need an extra boost of motivation to do the things I know I should be doing but get distracted. Why not shift the distraction to a more productive and tangibly rewarding activity? Much like the video gaming world where you earn fictional currency to unlock new abilities and gear, the same principal can be applied to staying healthy by earning real rewards.
Gaming can be employed in such a way that engages us in positive activities that foster learning, growth, and otherwise healthy habits if we know how to engineer it correctly. Applying gamification to provide the ongoing motivation needed to stay healthy is one way we can achieve lasting results and actually want to do the things we otherwise wouldn’t make a priority.