Gaming Puts Users On Top Of Their Health Goals [Future Of Health]

Gaming Puts Users On Top Of Their Health Goals [Future Of Health]

PSFK explores innovative programs that are using games to help people stay on track with their health and wellness goals.

  • 28 february 2014

While many people may play games in their spare time, researchers and scientists are hard at work at turning those games into productive tools that can actually help people better achieve their health goals. Whether it’s trying to run that extra mile or making it easier to deal with a chronic condition, these games seek to mold to the existing behaviors of people while providing a simple and rewarding way to tackle difficult challenges.

PSFK Labs’ latest Future of Health Report has outlined the trend Game Therapy, which looks at how gameplay and mechanics are being integrated into long term treatment and recovery plans, as well as healthy lifestyle routines, to ensure that people stay motivated and adhere to their goals. These hybrid therapies are designed particularly to turn repetitive, foreign and often difficult tasks into fun activities, while helping individuals and their caregivers track progress over time. Below we explore a handful of examples that are using games to help people stay on track with their health and wellness.

asics 2

For example with fitness, MY ASICS is a mobile application for running that generates adaptive workouts based on the user’s stamina and offers tailored exercise routines as they progress towards their running goals. MY ASICS logs run time, distance, pace and gear and represents the data in a dashboard on the go and online, allowing the user to plan future runs and improve their time. The runner can either carry their phone with them as they run, or log the data manually. Based on seven years of training research at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science in Kobe, Japan, the app uses a network of algorithms that track improvements or setbacks in order to customize workouts for each user’s abilities. Using the MY ASICS app, 78% of runners were able to achieve their goals, and 91% of professional runners were able to improve their times.

re mission

Another example is Re-Mission 2, which is an update on a web-based game series where cancer patients can take part in fighting virtual cancer cells, engaging them to form positive associations with the real world treatments that they undergo. Players diagnosed with cancer can compete in six free online missions that pit patients against different types of body-invading cancer cells using parallel medical treatments that patients typically undergo in their fight against cancer. Research foundation HopeLab in Northern California created the games by leveraging recent research showing that the rewards gamers receive for killing cancer invaders virtually, increase positive associations tied to chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments, thus increasing a player’s adherence to treatment plans. The original Re-Mission, first launched in 2006, reached almost 250,000 people, and the new Re-Mission 2, released in April 2013, has already reached more than 50,000 people worldwide near the end of 2013.


In another example, mySugr is a mobile app from Austria that helps individuals living with diabetes manage their condition by engaging in a fun game. Similar to the daily logbook already kept by many diabetes patients, the game portrays diabetes as a monster that can be tamed simply by logging their blood sugar data at regular intervals. When a patient logs their levels, they receive points, which help tame the diabetes monster. The goal is to tame the monster every day, thus instilling habitual positive behaviors for the rest of the user’s life. The app also has photo-uploading capabilities and search functionality so that users can refer back to previous meals to see how to make better eating decisions. There is a companion app geared towards children with diabetes, which also allows parents to follow along and monitor their child’s progress using their smartphones.

With our partners Boehringer Ingelheim, PSFK Labs has released the latest Future of Health Report, which highlights the four major themes and 13 emerging trends shaping the evolving global landscape of healthcare. To see more insights and thoughts on the Future of Health visit the PSFK page and watch a summary report on Slideshare, here.

Contributed by: Andrew Vaterlaus-Staby


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