Gaming for Better Health

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

An epic win

Parts 1 through 4 of the series “How is Gaming Changing the Landscape in Health Care,” clearly defined the importance of gaming in the health care arena.

Games for Health

Gaming utilizing smartphones and social networking are helping to transform health care.

Jane McGonigal, Game Designer in her TED Talk from February 2010 said, “Right now we spend 3 billion hours a week playing online games.” She feels everyone needs to spend more time playing bigger and better games.

3 billion hours a week isn’t nearly enough time to solve the world’s problems.  “If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week by the end of the next decade.”

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world

Games for Health to Engage Consumers

Here are only a few games to help you engage in your health.  (Information is obtained from the websites, unless otherwise noted.)  In the comment section below, it would be great if you could add to this list so we can establish a solid list of games for health.

  • – motivates and rewards people for physical activity; while enabling businesses to acquire customers for the rewards redeemed. By integrating products based on patent pending S2H technology and other activity-based tracking tools, S2H.COM allows users to earn rewards for their physical activity and share their progress with the online community.
  • SuperBetter – is an online game designed to help you achieve your health and wellness goals. It’s a social game — so you’ll want to play it with your closest friends and family.  SuperBetter was invented by a game designer, and created with guidance from doctors, psychologists, scientists and medical researchers. Every aspect of the game is designed to harness the power of positive emotions and social connection for better health.  SuperBetter is a game that helps you recover from any illness or injury — or achieve any health goal — by increasing your personal resilience. Resilience means staying curious, optimistic and motivated even in the face of the toughest challenges.  SuperBetter creates a private, online space where your closest friends and family become allies in your adventure toward health and wellness. The game is played in two parts: First, a set of 7 guided missions that create the foundation for your journey. Then, an open-ended, self-guided adventure that you play with your family and friends in the real world-not a virtual environment-in an effort to achieve your health goals.
  • Mindbloom – a Seattle-based interactive media company that’s out to make life improvement accessible to everyone. By harnessing next-generation engagement techniques and focusing them on personal development, Mindbloom has created a new, powerful way for people to improve the quality of their lives. Utilizing behavioral science, personalized rich media, and fun social gaming techniques in their offerings Mindbloom makes the process of personal growth fun, simple and effective.
  • Healthrageous – Combining information about you and your body with proven expertise, Healthrageous supports your efforts to shed unhealthy habits, embrace healthy lifestyles, and achieve your health and wellness goals. This is done by providing you with personalized guidance, expert coaching, and inspirational support – delivered when and where you want it.
  • ShapeUp – “ShapeUp takes a social approach to healthy living, inviting employees to form teams with their colleagues and challenging those teams to achieve wellness goals like increasing their exercise, improving their diet, and losing weight. By turning healthy living into a fun and friendly competition, we introduce game mechanics like points, levels, team standings, and prizes that drive engagement, behavior change, and sustained health outcomes. The average employee who participates in our program reduces his or her Body Mass Index by 1.2 points over the course of sixteen weeks, an average of 7 pounds of weight loss,” wrote Dr. Rajiv Kumar in an email.
  • Numera Social – Leveraging the power of social influence and the science of behavior change, Numera|Social is a new breed of health and wellness company seeking to engage individuals when and where they spend their time.  Delivered as a suite of white-labeled Facebook and Mobile platform solutions, healthcare providers, insurers, employers and wellness organizations can quickly establish their own highly interactive experience.  Numera Social’s integrated Facebook and iOS apps provides you with a platform to help individuals focus on goals using tools to help establish achievable objectives. With expert plans and challenges that fuel individual and peer-supported progress and success, users take action.  Through sustained engagement, compliance and outcomes results are measured using objective data.
  • Humana -Within Humana’s Innovation Center, they are busy exploring emerging technology, researching human insights and immersing ourselves in popular pastimes, to understand ways to create what we like to call “Health Entertainment.” The primary focus of this approach is to use video games and video game technology to craft these experiences.  They are also exploring how they  can expand beyond gameplay and create fun, and healthy, entertainment that both captivates audiences and generates health outcomes that result in a healthier world.
  • Endogoddess App – A Motivational App for People with Diabetes – Jennifer Shine Dyer, MD, MPH, is a pediatric endocrinologist, social media enthusiast (@EndoGoddess), app developer, and mobile health entrepreneur in Ohio with a patient-centered focus looking to make health outcomes better for people living with diabetes or other chronic diseases. In partnership with Ohio mobile software startup Duet Health Eproximiti, she developed the EndoGoddess App available for download since September 2011 for patients with diabetes who require insulin therapy based on BJ Fogg’s health behavior model with the following features: iTunes reward motivation, a unique social business plan, daily inspiring quotes submitted from the diabetes online community, multi-media informative diabetes content, social media links. Focus group studies on the user experience are ongoing and a randomized controlled trial is planned to test the app’s effects on diabetes health outcomes within an endocrinology private practice here in Columbus.

Truly an Epic Win

For gaming to truly be an epic win, gaming needs to “captivate the attention of all the health care silos.”

Your Turn

We would love to hear from you.  What “Games for Health” would you like to include on the list?  What Health Apps?  Do you engage in any of these health games mentioned in this post?  What makes a good health game?  Please share your insightful thoughts below.

As always, thank you for your valuable time.

Connect with me | Stay in touch

Follow Barbara on Twitter
Visit Barbara on Facebook
Like Healthin30
Connect with Barbara on Linkedin

Image: twobee /

You May Also Like


  1. 1

    Hi Barbara,

    You’ve likely heard about HealthTap as well. It’s the website that allows health pros to engage patients and answer questions but it also integrates some gaming style mechanics into the mix. Doctors can build their profile, be “followed”, earn points and badges too I believe. I’ll link it here for the benefit of your readers.
    It stood out for me after reading this because it seems to be using gaming style tricks to engage professionals even more than consumers.

    Nicely curated list here.


    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community Team

Leave a Reply