To play or not to play? Gamification in Healthcare

by Anna Suarez @ 21.07.2017

To play or not to play? Gamification in Healthcare

What is gamification and can it be applied in child healthcare?

According to Oxford dictionary, gamification is “the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, and rules of play) to other areas of activity…to encourage engagement with a product or service”. Gamification has been successfully applied in various fields: language learning (Duolingo), running experience (Nike+ Running Club), eating chocolate (Magnum Pleasure Hunt), and many more. But why is it working? And can it be applied in child healthcare?

We all like to play games. It is fun, it is relaxing, it is engaging. Moreover, according to Dr.Scott Rigby, founder and president of Immersyve, Inc. – a research and consulting group specializing in the psychology of virtual worlds and interactive technologies, playing games satisfies three basic needs:

  • Competence – to feel control over the situation, feel successful. In the game one can choose the paths and, when everything done right, win the game;
  • Autonomy – to feel independent, make own choices. The player can choose himself what to do in the game;
  • Relatedness – feel connection to other people. Many games have a social component, where gamers have a community, work together or compete with each other, but they are, anyway, part of something bigger together, sharing common interest.

Therefore, doing some non-game-related activity that is organized in similar fun, relaxing, and engaging way that satisfies the three basic needs feels appealing and motivating. Great thing about gamification is that it can, theoretically, be applied anywhere, and change an unpleasant activity into something interesting. Can you imagine if paying taxes or parking tickets would be a game, where you compete with friends on who paid them sooner this year? Maybe even that would be fun (or not). But gamification has already transformed the healthcare industry, especially with the rise of mobile applications world.

By 2018, over a third of the world’s population is projected to own a smartphone. Mobile phones have been shown to be effective platforms for delivering health interventions, e.g. for supporting smoking cessation and encouraging medication compliance in adults. While among gamers up to 27% are under age 18 and many children suffer from various serious diseases, to date few gamified applications have been introduced to modify child health behavior.

At Triumf Gamification we believe that incorporating fun components of earning points and achievements, completing missions, and connecting with fellow gamers into treatment plan may transform lives of children with parents. We apply the basic values of competence, autonomy and relatedness in our gamified solutions, while helping little superheroes to save the small mobile world. Because in real life they are already achieving so much more.