Live healthier, for fun.
I’ve been a loyal Dodgeball and Foursquare fan for years (2,162 checkins apparently)… pretty much since it first became popular at SXSW in 2003? 2004? and am lucky to count some of the founders and magicians behind the scenes good friends.
When Foursquare announced that it’s allowing 3rd-party applications to tap into their badge system last week (RunKeeper… another of my favorite apps of all time), I thought Health Month would be another great application to integrate with that.
So today I have a cool announcement. First a couple thoughts on the whole gamification of everything meme of late:
Badges are getting a bad rap lately. Adding a badge to something doesn’t make it compelling and valuable. On the other hand, nobody can deny that a badge at the right time for the right reason is a really beautiful thing. The first time I got a Swarm badge, for example. And of course getting the Bender and Crunked badges is very rewarding in itself.
The key to badges is to attach them to meaningful things. If done that way, they are able to highlight the intrinsic award rather than replace it. Then and only then does the magic happen. Foursquare definitely gets this.
On Health Month, I’m trying to create a casual social game around improving health habits. In many ways, it’s a test of willpower more than anything else. The most difficult element of living more healthy is motivating reason to do the work. We have the knowledge, we have the ability, and we have the desire… we just lack the trigger. Game mechanics, I believe, are really good at improving triggers. In the ideal world of my Health Month vision, badges awarded at the right time and for the right reason become rewards for having done the tough work of creating new health habits. As such, they become valuable things.
In addition, I think badges work best when they have an existing ecosystem to thrive in. So, I’m happy to announce that people who play Health Month, and attach their Foursquare account to their Health Month account, will begin to get badges for exemplary feats of willpower. Surviving a month of following your own rules, without losing all of your life points, for example.
Starting today, people who complete the September Game with more than 1 life point will not only be added to the Wall of Awesomeness, but they’ll also get a Foursquare badge if they’ve attached their Foursquare account. If you’d rather not think about this added game element, then you don’t need to worry about it.
Everyone wins. And, really, that’s the best kind of game to play.
It’s not too late to choose some rules and hop in on the October game if you’d like to try to get some badges by the end of the month.