We, humans, are creatures of habit, and breaking bad habits can be a daunting task. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, repeating the same behaviors and routines day in and day out, even when we know they’re not good for us.
Whether it’s quitting smoking, eating healthier, or exercising regularly, we all have habits we’d like to change. But change requires motivation, and finding that motivation can be a challenge.
In this blog, we’ll explore the science of motivation and how it can help us break free from long-standing bad habits with the help of lifestyle gamification. So, if you’re ready to make a change and take control of your habits, read on!
But before that, let’s first look at what gamification is all about!
What is Gamification?
Gamification is a concept that involves using game mechanics and dynamics in non-game contexts. There are four major applications of gamification: product development, marketing campaigns, workplace gamification, and lifestyle gamification.
We often struggle to organize our lives or overcome unhealthy habits. App and digital product owners use game elements like game mechanics and game dynamics to motivate users to complete tasks by setting goals and bringing about behavioral change to overcome unhealthy habits.
Lifestyle Gamification can help us achieve these goals in a fun and engaging way. Here are the top 10 examples of platforms that use some form of Gamification to improve the lifestyle.
1. Plant Nanny
Plant Nanny is an app that encourages users to drink more water by creating an emotional connection between them and a virtual plant. Users water the plant by logging their water consumption, and the plant grows accordingly.
However, if the user fails to water the plant, it withers and dies. Over time, the user develops an emotional attachment to the plant, making them more likely to care for it and, in turn, drink more water.
Losing weight is often easier said than done. However, with the help of gamification, achieving your weight loss goals can be more fun and rewarding. One such app that has gained popularity in recent years is DietBet.
DietBet is a simple yet effective app that incentivizes weight loss. Users can join a weight loss challenge by putting, for example, $35 into a pot.
The challenge lasts for six months, during which participants try to lose 10% of their body weight. At the end of the challenge, the money from the pot is distributed among the winners. This means that not only do you lose weight, but you also have a chance to earn some extra cash.
This design pattern can be seen in many other gamified apps, such as Plant Nanny, which encourages water intake through virtual plant nurturing. Combining these design patterns makes creating a more engaging and enjoyable weight loss experience possible.
Managing diabetes can be challenging, but gamification can make it easier and more engaging. Enter the Diabetes Monster, a virtual monster that users must defeat by completing tasks related to diabetes management.
The game involves tracking food intake by counting calories and monitoring glucose levels. Users who complete these tasks earn points and badges, keeping them motivated and engaged. The Diabetes Monster serves as a fun and interactive way to stay on top of diabetes management.
By gamifying diabetes management, users can turn an otherwise tedious task into a fun and rewarding experience. The Diabetes Monster is just one example of how gamification can be used to improve health outcomes and encourage healthy habits.
As you can see, gamification has the potential to revolutionize how we manage chronic conditions like diabetes. That is the reason why HealthTech gamification is a booming avenue. So why not give the Diabetes Monster a try and see if gamification can help you stay on track with your diabetes management?
4. Mango Health
Taking medications as prescribed is crucial for managing many chronic conditions. However, studies have shown that many people do not take their medications as prescribed, which can delay treatment and worsen outcomes. That’s where this app comes in — it rewards users for following their prescriptions.
The Mango Health app tracks medication adherence and awards points for every successful medication intake. Users can then redeem these points for rewards such as gift cards, discounts, or other incentives.
By gamifying medication adherence, this app encourages users to take their medications seriously and stay on track with their treatment plans. It’s a win-win situation — users get rewarded for taking care of their health, and healthcare providers benefit from improved patient outcomes.
So as you can see, gamification can be a powerful tool in improving medication adherence and health outcomes. It also increases patient engagement in healthcare apps.
Have you ever heard of an app that uses gamification to promote wellness? Meet Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter app, which is not only famous because of its creator, but also because of its innovative approach to improving people’s lives.
What inspired McGonigal to create this app? She suffered a serious head injury, leading her to develop SuperBetter to help herself recover. The app is designed to help users define their friends, enemies, and superpowers and complete tasks to achieve their goals.
One unique aspect of SuperBetter is the tasks it assigns to users. For example, one task may require you to go to the nearest window and wait until you see something that makes you pray to God. Users then take photos of themselves completing these tasks.
At the core of SuperBetter are four “happy chemicals” that are important to our well-being. These chemicals are dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. McGonigal designed the app to trigger these chemicals in users, with the ultimate goal of promoting actions that promote survival rather than just making users happy.
One key aspect of these happy chemicals is that they can’t flow all the time, and their primary goal is not to make us happy. Instead, they promote actions that help us survive. Understanding how these chemicals work is crucial to understanding gamification and lifestyle gamification in a new way. It works in a way to influence behavior change in individuals.
So if you’re looking for an app that uses gamification to improve your life, SuperBetter may be worth checking out. By understanding the four happy chemicals and how they can trigger positive behaviors, you can use the app to achieve your goals and improve your overall well-being.
Understanding our happy chemicals can help us design our lifestyles in a way that promotes our well-being. Gamification can be a powerful tool in triggering these happy chemicals and making us feel more motivated, supported, and happy. We can create a more fulfilling and enjoyable lifestyle by incorporating these elements into our daily lives.
So when we look at the apps that try to improve the lifestyle, we can expect them to trigger these happy chemicals. For example, they must always define goals and show you how close you are to achieving those goals in order to trigger dopamine.
And if you pay attention to previous examples, you can see that there are goals everywhere! And the most important thing is showing the user how close he or she is to achieving that goal!
They also must have a grading system to make people on top of each other to trigger serotonin! Usually, we have leaderboards for this, and they can actually do quite well if we mix them with an achievement system that lets people brag about that achievement!
On the other hand, lifestyle gamification must create concepts like clan or guild to trigger Oxytocin! You should feel supported by your community; it keeps you going when you are not performing well!
And well, some structures use these happy chemicals very well, like challenges! If you create a community and you define good challenges, people try to overcome those challenges and gain recognition!
The Keas app creates challenges related to wellness and healthcare that employees can participate in, triggering the release of dopamine as they strive to achieve their goals. It is an excellent example of employee and workplace gamification.
It also encourages a sense of community and support by creating teams or guilds, triggering oxytocin. A leaderboard system triggers serotonin as employees strive to be at the top of the leaderboard and feel a sense of achievement.
Habitica goes beyond a basic to-do app by providing users with defined goals, multiple currencies, and various trophies to keep them motivated. It works on the principle of extrinsic motivation.
The popular lifestyle gamification app that makes your to-do list a fun and rewarding experience. Not only can you enter your daily habits and tasks, but you can also invite your friends and create a supportive community.
But why all the currencies and trophies?
Simply put, completing a to-do list can be tedious and doesn’t always trigger the dopamine rush we need to stay motivated. Habitica uses different currencies to provide that dopamine boost and keep users engaged.
Paying close attention to your progress is essential to get the most out of these lifestyle gamification apps. Many users simply check off tasks without considering the progress indicators. But the key is to trick your happy chemicals using dopamine-inducing progress bars and other indicators.
Nike+ is an app that encourages people to be more active and healthy. The app achieves this goal by motivating users to walk and run more.
How does Nike+ persuade you to run more? Through challenges! You can create a challenge and get motivated by others to perform better.
Nike+ uses dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin chemicals to keep you motivated.
The point system is also important here. How many currencies do you want to use? For how many points do you want to level up your player? These are some design challenges in such apps.
By using these apps, you can trick your happy chemicals into staying motivated. The key is to watch your progress with indicators to get a constant dopamine stream.
9. Zombies Run
Zombies, Run! is a unique app that takes a different approach to lifestyle gamification. Instead of simply tracking your runs, it immerses you in an imaginary world where zombies occupy your city, and you must run to get food for your people while avoiding the undead. The sound effects are so realistic that you can almost feel the zombies chasing you!
The app is designed to trigger the stress chemical cortisol released when you feel frightened. This may sound counterintuitive, but the idea is that by simulating a stressful situation in a safe environment, you can learn to manage your stress response and prevent cortisol from affecting you in real-life situations.
While other apps like Nike+ focus on creating challenges and using points and currencies to motivate you, Zombies Run! It uses the fear factor to keep you engaged. It may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a fun and unique way to incorporate running into your lifestyle, it’s definitely worth a try.
10. The Walk
The Walk app motivates users to walk more by presenting them with interesting content as they walk. Users must go to special places on the map, and a piece of the story is revealed when they arrive.
By presenting users with a puzzle to solve and an intriguing story to follow, “the walk” triggers dopamine and motivates users to keep walking and exploring.
While gamification has proven to be an effective way of improving our lifestyle, there are many challenges to creating content that is universally appealing.
What’s interesting to a 20-year-old in Spain may not be as intriguing to a 50-year-old in Asia. Nevertheless, gamification’s ability to trigger happy chemicals provides a powerful tool for improving our lifestyles and achieving our goals.
Gamification has become an increasingly popular tool for motivating individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles. There are a variety of different approaches used by these apps, each with its own unique strategies to encourage physical activity.
At the core of gamification lies the concept of happy chemicals, which influence the design patterns used by these apps. For example, defining goals and challenges and showing users their progress toward achieving those goals can trigger dopamine. Similarly, providing users with a sense of community and social support can elicit feelings of serotonin.
Ultimately, the key to successfully incorporating gamification into your lifestyle is to find an approach that resonates with you personally. By understanding the role of happy chemicals in shaping our behavior, we can better identify which design patterns will be most effective in helping us achieve our goals.
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Kamran Hatami is a Gamification Designer with 8+ years of experience in Behavioral Design. He helps companies grow their customers’ and employees’ behavior sustainably.