In case you don’t know, gamification is the “application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity,” according to the Oxford dictionary. It is increasingly being used in marketing and business to engage consumers and employees and yield higher profits. However, there is another, more important and humanistic use of gamification – and that is to make us healthier.
Gamification in the healthcare industry is not a new concept. In the 1990s, video games were first being introduced to help teach children with asthma and diabetes how to thrive with their conditions. Today, you can find ads for luminosity, the brain training game, almost anywhere, and apps that turn exercise into a game are commonplace.
Some game companies, like Blue Marble Game Company, help users with disabilities or who are at-risk for illnesses perform their doctor-recommended therapy by designing games that target their conditions. Instead of them having to perform their prescribed treatment as a routine, gamifying the treatment allows the patients to add their treatment into their day by playing a video game.
As the healthcare industry turns to gamification to help the ill perform their doctor-recommended treatment on a regular basis, it is also helping everyone in general to live better, healthier, and hopefully longer lives.
So if you’re fortunate enough to be happy and healthy, you can still improve your own life by playing games. Luckily, there is an excellent TED talk about how gamification can win real-world health points. I highly recommend you watch this video and start to turn your own life into a game.
If you want to learn more about current gamification research projects, check out the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center lab at my alma mater, the University of Southern California.