Gamification in Health

July 11, 2017 - 0 Comments

Applications like Fitocracy and QUENTIQ use gamification to encourage their users to exercise more effectively and improve their overall health. Users are awarded varying numbers of points for activities they perform in their workouts and gain levels based on points collected. Users can also complete quests (sets of related activities) and gain achievement badges for fitness milestones. Health Month adds aspects of social gaming by allowing successful users to restore points to users who have failed to meet certain goals. Public health researchers have studied the use of gamification in self-management of chronic diseases and common mental disorders, STD prevention, and infection prevention and control.

In a review of health apps in the 2014 Apple App Store, over 100 apps showed a positive correlation between gamification elements used and high user ratings. myfitnesspal was named as the app that used the highest amount of gamification elements.

Reviewers of the popular location-based game Pokémon Go praised the game enabling the promotion of physical exercise. Terri Schwartz (IGN) said it was “secretly the best exercise app out there” and that it changed her daily walking routine. Patrick Allen (Lifehacker) wrote an article with tips about how to work out using Pokémon Go. Julia Belluz (Vox) said it could be the “greatest unintentional health fad ever” and wrote that one of the results of the game that the developers may not have realized was that “it seems to be getting people moving”. According to a study users took an extra 194 steps per day once they started using the app, which approximated to 26% more than usual. Ingress is a similar game that also requires a player to be physically active. Zombies, Run! is a game in which the player is trying to survive a zombie apocalypse through a series of missions during which they have to (physically) run, collect items to help the town survive and listen to various audio narrations to uncover mysteries. Mobile, context-sensitive serious games for sports and health have been called exergames.

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