Change Your Game (aka: The Good The Bad and The Playful)

Behavioural Science, Persuasive Technology, Gamification, Behavioural Change. Some of the key concepts in the new digital focus on health are coming straight out of the entertainment and gaming sectors. This short session will look at a few examples of this, with a focus on one key app to show how the right balance of nudge, nag and failure can generate real success.

Persuasive techo: combining digital (game motivations) and behavioural changes.

BJ Fogg’s 3 step method:

  1. get specific
  2. make it easy
  3. trigger the behaviour

Knowing what’s good for us rarely changes our behaviour. We still eat and drink too much, smokers can’t instantly quit. But games ‘trick’ our brains. Games make failure fun… it’s the playing and conquering that makes games fun. If games had a button marked ‘win’ they’d be boring. Games fulfil social and emotional needs. Games help us focus through a balance of frustration and fun.

Games help with things like depression, anxiety, improving fitness and generally changing behaviour.

Project: SPARX, from Uni of Auckland. It walks people through challenges that were proved as effective (for some people) as face-to-face therapy for people with depression.

Project: This Way Up for St Vincent’s had a 75% rate of improvement (to some level) with zero negative effect. This is an extraordinary result.

Project: My Quitbuddy. There are lots of things built into games that tap into really simple human reactions. We see a picture or diagram of a body, we immediately visualise ourselves in it. We respond to personal best data as we compete with ourselves. Numbers that flick and change are really compelling. We can distract ourselves – at peak danger times, Quitbuddy gives people facts and little mini games to distract themselves from their craving.

Project: Check Up GP – turned a survey into a quiz game. Particularly for kids, it was a way to get more and more-honest information from the patient to their doctor.

Gamification is really popular and like most established things there are good, bad and everyday examples. Zombies, Run! is a good example; it makes your run more fun and engages people with exercise. A bad example was the Ford hybrid car which animated a growing green plant when you drove efficiently, but it distracted people so badly they were missing stop signs watching it. Really everyday examples are bars having Happy Hour – it’s appointment dynamics. Reward points systems like frequent flyer programs – it has levels and achievements.

Keep the Fogg model in mind and tread carefully. Ensure you are encouraging the behaviours you set out to encourage.