Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gamification - Project 2

[The prompt: Create a gamified system for a city government to increase fitness & decrease insurance costs]

Most people realize that exercise and fitness are important to good health and quality of life.  No one likes to be sick or unwell, but sometimes the choices people make contribute to an unhealthful lifestyle and they need the structure of a program to make changes.  Creating a gamified system to provide extrinsic motivation and rewards is a way to encourage healthful habits, and when people start to feel the physical improvements in their lives, they will continue the behaviors for the intrinsic value.

For the employees of the city of Werbachia, I propose adding an activity reporting feature to the automated timeclock that the city uses to track attendance and hours.  This will be a low-cost, uncomplicated way for employees to report their daily physical activity and this data will be reported back to users in a weekly progress update that tracks their progress against themselves & against an average of the other city employees.

The game elements of this program include:
  • checking in
  • points for the different categories of activity (more for strenuous activity or muscle strengthening, fewer for light activity or cardio)
  • badges for completing activity goals
  • feedback (in the weekly report to track & compare progress)
  • quests (a monthly newsletter will give activity suggestions and directions for completion of goals)
At the outset, primary motivation to record activity and encourage increased exercise will be extrinsic. By linking the activity report to the automated timeclock, every employee will have 4 opportunites per day to log their exercise (clocking in & out for the day and in & out for lunch). Because the city uses the same system for all employees, this will relatively simple & cost efficient to implement and maintain.

Every week the employees will receive a progress report which will give them feedback.  They will be able to see their own progress over time and compare their progress to that of the group of city employees as a whole.  The individual employee can choose to share this information with their peers, and this gives the user flexibility and control over the "game". This feeling of engagement is critical to a successful gamified system.  Those who are motivated by self-improvement will be pleased and those who are motivated by cometition with peers and the main group will be pleased as well.

Physical fitness is, well, physical and the more the city employees utilize the system and work to increase their activity levels to progress in the "game", the more they will become fit and feel more healthy and energized.  This good feeling becomes an intrinsic motivator for the user to continue to progress.  What was once a requirement becomes a good and rewarding habit.  In this way, using a gamified system to initiate & encourage increased physical fitness using external motivation leads to the creation of a desire to continue the habit for the intrinsic reward of health and happiness.

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