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Health and Gamification (3/3): Gamification, a factor for long-term health and well-being?

Gamification

Health and Gamification (3/3): Gamification, a factor for long-term health and well-being?

We saw in the previous article that preventive medicine helps prevent chronic diseases which represent a major cost for the healthcare system. In this last article, we will present how individuals can see their health and self-esteem optimized over the long term by using gamification. Preventive medicine improves not only physical health but also psychological health. Some factors contribute to our general well-being, such as sports that reduces stress and improves sleep quality, or a healthy diet that regulates the proper functioning of our body. This state of well-being is something that everyone seeks to achieve and maintain, but which seems so difficult to reach. Therefore, gamification plays a major role in this quest. Solutions like Bodyo offer advice and programsthinking about the issues and problems their users may encounter while changing their habits. Actually, how many people have already tried to go on a diet failing to reach the end, to achieve their goals or to even start doing sports within a week? Definitely more than we thinkeven with a strong will, it is difficult to change our habits because by nature humanbeings do not like change. It is therefore important, if not essential, to have support not only for our physical activities, but also in regard to our unique psychological characteristics. Through gamification, not only will users have a tailored experience but they will also find tools and get rewards that will help them to continue the path towards their goals with more motivation and engagement.

What is gamification and how does it work? 

Gamification is a term that refers to the use of codes from the world of gaming in other areas, especially in learning, work situations or even social networks. Its aim is to increase users‘ motivation in a playful way so that they achieve their initial objectives. These new tools are a way to manage problems in order to achieve goals set by individuals. They are adapted to each context and needs, and can take several forms, such as: points, badges, dashboards, rankings, scenarios, avatars or teammates. Through these processes, users  have different results based on their goals, which allows them to change their perspective on what they want to achieve and how to get thereSo what is the goal of solutions like Bodyo? Give people a new perspective on their goals and health by changing their habits, while getting pleasure in doing so. In fact, wanting to improve one’s lifestyle is an honorable choice that should be encouraged by companies in the wellness and health industry.  

But then, how does it work? What makes the codes of gaming so fun, challenging and motivating? Quite simply because they are based on the principles of human psychology and address several psychological needs, such as: 

  • The need of belonging 
  • Self-esteem  
  • Self-actualization 

Companies like Nike, Fitbit, Adidas or Bodyo have based user experience of their applications on these three pillars in order to motivate users to achieve their goals. For example, to meet the need to belongingness, applications that use gamification build a universe in which individuals can freely create their own community. This is especially achieved through sharing scores, photos or geolocation. So users know that they are virtually running with other people or even in real life, and can confront them, making the experience more stimulating and social. For self-esteem and self-actualization, it is important for individuals to be able to track their own evolution and thus feel that they are making progress and accomplishing goals. This can be done through constant feedback, a dashboard with key indicators (steps of the day, sleep time, etc.) but also and above all through milestones, scores or even trophies won for each challenge accomplished.  

Charles Coonradt summarizes these points with 5 principles of gamification that help users to be fulfilled (EduTech Wiki “Gamification”, 2020): 

  • Properly defined goals
  • Opportunity to count points
  • Constant feedback
  • Many personal choices or methods
  • Permanent coaching 

By looking at the Maslow’s pyramid, it is clear that “secondary needs” (belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization) are the key vectors of users’ motivation. Therefore, by meeting those needs“primary needs, such as health, will be optimized.  

Cabine de santé Téléconsultation TélémédecineIn addition, we conducted a field study for our report to understand what are the most engaging and motivating elements of gamification. Our initial thought was that elements such as gifts or discounts would come on the top of the list. Instead, we were surprised to find that rankings (trophies, points, levels) were the preferred criteria. It is therefore interesting to note that these secondary needs are truly the motivators, even overtaking monetized or tangible rewards, and should be solicited 

Conclusion 

In recent years, well-being and preventive medicine have both developed enormously. It has become easier to raise awareness of individuals on their health but also on achieving their goals through research carried out by companies that are experts in these fields.  

This has led to a real symbiosis between advanced technological devices such as Bodyo’s AiPod and Health Lounge and devices that take into account the humanbeing as a whole, in both physical and psychological dimensions.

Tracy AlbarelloHajnalka Molnar

Sources

Robert C. (2017), « Les principes de la Gamification » (Educ Tech Wiki)

 

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