Using gamification to improve health – (part 1 of 2)

This is the question for the second written assignment of the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera. My answer will follow soon.

Photo via National Media Museum and Flickr Commons
Photo via National Media Museum and Flickr Commons

You are approached by Ryan Morrison, the mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest of the United States. He has heard that you know a lot about gamification and believes that gamification techniques can transform city government.

He would like to start with the health of city employees. The city has 50,000 employees and they happen to have exactly the same rates of obesity as the U.S. average: 34.4% overweight (but not obese) and 33.9% of them are obese. 53.1% of the city’s employees do not meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity and 76% of them fail to meet the Guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity. The city pays for health benefits for its employees and this cost is a huge part of the city budget. Economists in Mayor Morrison’s office have estimated that a 3% improvement in the average physical fitness of city employees would amount to a US$94 million reduction in annual city health costs; a 5% improvement would save US$188 million.

Describe in general terms a gamified system that could effectively motivate behaviour change to address the challenge presented above. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both. Your answer should address the fact that this is an internal gamification project, targeted at the institutional goals of the city government. The system can use any technology (or no technology!), so long as the resources required seem justified by the scope of the opportunity.

Format: Maximum of 500 words. A normal answer will be 2-3 paragraphs of text, and/or a set of bullet points. Your submission should be self-contained (not requiring the grader to view any outside materials) and should provide sufficient details for the grader to understand the basis for your statements.

I’ll be posting my thoughts about the course here under this tag. Use the hashtag #gamification14 on twitter to join in the conversation.

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