Pokesteps? Poke-yes!

A few weeks ago, I was lured into playing a game that has become quite popular. Of course, I am referring to Pokemon Go. Our 12-year old son had been quite a dedicated fan of Pokemon for years now, and since I missed this phenomenon growing up, half the time I didn’t understand what he was saying when he spoke about it. But I decided to give the mobile game a try.

Since I started playing, I don’t cease to be tremendously impressed about the way the game succeeds at getting you to go out and about. Not only is this amazing for kids and young adults (who grew up on Pokemon) alike, since it gets them back outdoors, the way most of us who were born in the 70s and 80s grew up. This game motivates people to get more active…

You are not told you have to put in X number of steps, you have to walk off to hatch eggs that will eventually turn into Pokemons that you can play with in the game. You are not invited to walk for 30 minutes, but without doing so you really cannot hit the Pokestops where you get the pokeballs and other items you need to catch Pokemons and make the most of your catches. The BYPRODUCT of doing all these fun things is that you put in steps that otherwise you may have not taken… As I call them, POKESTEPS!

SO this has officially become the first game since the early days of the Wii, where moving got you points and helped you advance, that I am truly excited about. Gotta catch them all!

Share your thoughts on Pokemon Go in the comments, below.

What makes you want to play Angry Birds over and over?

I had avoided the Angry Birds game until two very good friends of mine told me: “Just play it! You will see…”

So I did. To give you an idea of how hooked I got, I will admit to being stuck on one level (Level 3-5, in case you’re curious) for half of the flight back from Boston a couple of months ago.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my son (who also loves the game in all of its variations) about what makes Angry Birds so special. We jointly came to these two conclusions:

  • Simplicity: the premise of the game is SUPER-simple. You don’t have to think to play it. You don’t really even have to do much but play it… By the time you start Googling how to proceed within the game (am I the only one that has done it?) it’s simply because the game gets progressively more complex, but the basic principles are the same: you got a bunch of (angry) birds to help you get rid of a bunch of pigs by knocking down the hideout they are in.
  • Strategy: you can’t play all levels of the game the same way, much like you can’t apply a one-size-fits-all tactic to all situations in life. You have to assess your resources (birds) vs. the goal you’re faced with (the # of pigs and how they are spread out through their hideout). Then you have to plan: not as in “Project Plan” but as in “OK, here’s what I am going to try this time around!” If your plan doesn’t work, you go back to the drawing board and try another plan.

Today, I ran into an amazing post titled “Why Angry Birds Gets More Play Than Health Apps” and the whole conversation with my son about Angry Birds came back. This time, it made me think about health applications… and I realized that the reality about making a user go back and want to keep on using a health application (0r web site) is not so distant from the reasons that make Angry Birds so addictive. This phrases sums up the concept:

If we are going to use a new website or device or program, we want it to be easy. We want it to save time, not take time.

How cool is that? Being addicted to doing healthy things, huh? What is your experience with health applications that work or don’t work? What makes them tick?

Healthseeker: Engaging and Motivating with a Facebook Game

This is the slidedeck for a presentation about HealthSeeker, the healthy Facebook Game we developed at the Diabetes Hands Foundation, in collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center.

I am presenting HealthSeeker along with Michael Fergusson, from Ayogo Games, at e-Patient Connections 2010 Sept. 28, 2010:

Session description:
There is a widely-held belief that playing games online is a waste of time at best (“Your friend sent you a sheep!”), and part of an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle at worst. A closer look reveals something quite different, however: games and play are one of the strongest motivators of behaviour, and a key tool for anyone looking to develop or reinforce healthy habits. HealthSeeker is a game that turns your Facebook network of friends onto a source of support as you complete real-world missions to get healthier through simple everyday actions. Join us for a discussion about the game, how it works and how it came about.

Play HealthSeeker at:

Like HealthSeeker at:

Follow HealthSeeker at: