The PSFK consulting team has noticed that through game mechanics, play can help people change habits and encourage positive behavior. Playful activities are already being employed to help people get fitter or adhere to medication programs.
One company operating in this space is Explorence- a start-up that develops mobile games which can turn any outdoor recreational activity into a real life video game. Its first game Dash! is a mobile application in beta that enables users to create, participate, and compete asynchronously in outdoor races at any time. Users design their own courses utilizing the GPS capabilities of their smartphones and wager virtual currency on the race. Once a race is logged onto the platform, anyone using the app can compete in a custom race developed by users of all fitness levels. Races are further enhanced by music, check points, leader boards and rewards. The soon to debut game is currently in private beta. PSFK spoke with Explorence’s founder, Mike Suprovici, about his work.
Please provide a brief introduction about yourself and your company.
Please tell us about Explorence. What is the idea and goal behind the game?
Explorence develops mobile applications that turn outdoor recreational activities into real life video games. Bike rides turn into Mario Kart; city walks become The Amazing Race. With our first game DASH! players physically compete in races asynchronously by just having their phone on them.
We are noticing that as a way to motivate people to change or improve their personal behaviors, an increasing number of games are being developed which incorporate some form of reward and/or competition into their structures, what are your thoughts on this? Do you see this trend manifesting on a larger scale?
Game mechanics are great if they are utilized properly. That’s the tricky part – to implement game mechanics properly one needs to really think a user’s behavior through. Then one needs to test against those assumptions.
We believe in competition. For example with DASH!, our first outdoor video game, users compete in races asynchronously. The challenge is the structure of the competition. If the leaders are too far ahead of the pack, the game risks alienating the average player. On the other hand, if the challenge is too easy, players will get bored and lose interest.
We think changing personal behavior is difficult. Take fitness apps for example. Some have had great success utilizing game mechanics to drive behavior. Nike+ is one of the stand outs. However if you look at the core user base of most fitness applications, they consist of people who were already partaking in these types of activities. Though people who have used these products to lose weight, most are utilizing the technology to complement or enhance an activity they were already participating in. So maybe the answer is to use technology to enhance activities to the point where one perceives them as play rather then a task or a burden.
What other trends within or around gaming have you noticed?
Console games are shifting to mobile. Location based services have educated the average individual on what it means to have phone with a GPS. Brands are looking for better ways to integrate their messages into experiences. In addition, there is a big push towards health in America. We think there is a lot of opportunity at the intersection of these 4 major trends.
Thank you Mike!
For more information about our how games can be used to support the reality of climate change, read our Gaming for Good Report.