Geek Jitsu – gamifying health

While out running the other day, a sudden realization hit me as hard as my sore muscles the next morning: gamers love gaming. Wow, what a burst of genius, Chin! No, seriously, give me a minute to explain this. Gamers love gaming, which is something you probably knew. But what can we learn from that? Well, if you want a gamer to do something, turn that something into a game. Thus, if you want a gamer to stay fit, turn that into a game.

That is, of course, not a new way of thinking. The gamification of almost everything has been discussed thoroughly by experts, and I even had a post about creating achievements for your health plan a few months ago. Still, it strikes me as odd how small the market for fitness games is. Sure, you got all those Wii games that pretend to keep you fit, but next to those titles, you won’t find much. There are apps like Zombies, Run and sites like Fitocracy that gamify your workouts, but they are not enough for the healthy gamer who wants some more depth.

Why haven’t we seen a full-fledged RPG powered by your workout yet? Heck, let me take the chance then and provide all you game designers with a little concept for such a game. Let us call it Sprinteria, and let it be a game about brave heroes and adventurers in a world powered by your running sessions. It works like this: users sign up for Sprinteria on the website, and download the app that comes with it to their smartphone. When they are out running, the app tracks their distance, average and maximum speed, and approximate amount of burnt calories. These values are translated into action points at the end of your session, and then send to your digital alter ego in Sprinteria. Your in-game hero can use those points to perform actions, like going out to hunt monsters, craft items or participate in player-vs-player warfare. Through these actions, your hero acquires experience and becomes more powerful. Thus, your running sessions are the only source of power for your hero, motivating you to slip into those sweatpants and fuel your adventurer in Sprinteria!

Of course, this is just a simple idea, but a game like that would really fascinate me. There’s also room for improvement, meaning it could be an ever-growing program that offers different challenges every week or month. The point is that I believe that if you create a sports game that takes gamers seriously, those gamers will take sports seriously. You just have to approach them the right way.

While we’re at it, what’s your opinion? Any fitness games that motivate you to keep moving, or do you also have your own ideas when it comes to designing one? Maybe you are a game designer yourself, and see something in my little pitch here. No matter what, leave your comments below.

Stay healthy!

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