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'Gamification' of normal life can reward positive behaviour

Videogame-strategy used to get children eating more fruit and veggies

"Gamification" is defined as the application of typical video game elements (reward systems, point gathering, etc.) to other life activities. Dr. Bordieri visited the Sounds Good studio to discuss the World Health Organization including video game addiction in their latest revision of the International Classification of Diseases. It's not all bad however, as video games can also be used to incentivize other non-gaming areas of activity, such as physical health and nutrition.

Dr. Bordieri suggests that video games can actually be used as educational tools. By implementing tangible reward systems, one could encourage 'mundane' activities like incorporating fruit and vegetables into a daily diet.

An elementary school did just that, by using an extraterrestrial narrative where 'heroes' captured 'villains' on various planets with the help of fruits and vegetables as fuel. After 13 days of participation it led to an increase of fruit consumption by 66% and vegetable consumption by 44%. Once students consumed enough of a specific fruit or vegetable for the week's 'mission,' the villain was captured and the next planetary assignment was discussed. If the consumption levels were below a specific baseline, students weren't able to hear the narrative for the following week and were encouraged by the stories' heroes to consume more of a specific fruit/vegetable.

Incentivizing healthy eating in this way enabled schools to provide instant gratification for something for which gratification is most often seen in the long run (e.g., eating healthy food now, maintaining physical and emotional health in maturity).

Dutch gaming journalist and food blogger Ward Geene feels this is a great development: "Companies like Netflix, Facebook and Google know, like many game developers, how a rewarding system can influence people to take certain actions. You can use this knowledge to get your customers to binge-watch episodes on Netflix, but you could also get people to eat more healthy. The fact this knowledge is being used to support healthy lifestyles is a great development. The development itself fits within the 'Time Well Spent' movement that Facebook and Apple already cater to by giving you insights into your time spent with certain apps and even enforce time limits for your apps."

Source: WKMS

Publication date: 8/9/2018



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