"Gamification," or applying game thinking to non-game activities, is a tech term that's been around long enough that many of the apps on our smartphones use the concept. And many times, we don't even realize we're part of a game with multiple purposes.
Take for example, a new app called Wellapets, which teaches children how to care for their asthma with virtual pets.
LifeGuard Games' CEO and founder Alex Ryu, 25, said some parents have told him children who don't have asthma have enjoyed playing the game without even realizing the health purpose behind it, and that's okay too.
"We want it to be enjoyable," Ryu said.
The app, developed by a Harvard Medical School student, features fire-breathing dragon pets on Apple iOS devices, like iPhones or iPads, or devices that run Android. The app teaches children to learn how to manage their asthma in a fun, interactive way.
Here is more about Wellapets and more websites and apps that could gamify a wide range of activities in your life.
|Children With Asthma|
Ryu, who is on leave from Harvard Medical School, released Wellapets on March 28 with a team of three and while working with pediatricians from Boston Children's Hospital. The app is ideally for children ages 6 to 11 and is free, though Ryu said he hopes to one day use a subscription model.
"The greater vision is to use the virtual pet through a series of games to make children smarter and healthier," Ryu said. Other topics LifeGuard Games hopes to tackle are financial literacy and other health issues, possibly food allergies.
Runkeeper allows people to keep track of their running, cycling, hiking and several other physical activities. Share with your friends, sync with your goals and get healthy. The company recently introduced the Breeze app that tracks every step you take.
|Health/Hitting the Gym|
Pact encourages positive behaviors, like going to the gym, by fining you money if you skip out on your commitment.
The premise allows those who go to the gym according to their “pact” to never pay money. You provide your credit card information when you first sign up and then you pay an amount of your choosing if you do not follow your pact.
Initially called GymPact, the company changed its name to Pact when it widened its use beyond going to your local health club.
Read More: GymPact App Makes Workout Skippers Pay Up
Mint is a personal finance app and website that encourages you to keep to your budgeting and saving goals. You can sync your bank accounts and credit cards. Feel shame and embarrassment when your savings goals are in the red and elation when you keep within your monthly restaurants budget.
Fitness device Fitbit tracks every step you take and even how much you sleep and the quality of it. Walking urbanites can proudly share their number of steps when they compare with car-driving friends.
Competitor Jawbone is also pushing its sleep function.
|Learning a Language|
Using a quiz-style format of learning, Duolingo allows you to learn basic Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese. The app is free and you can choose to start anywhere in a range of levels.
"Quality dating made easy" is the tag line for Coffee Meets Bagel. Started by three sisters, the free service utilizes the Facebook networks of your friends for potential dates, with the premise that you may have a higher chance of compatibility in your social networks.
Members receive one match, or bagel, daily at noon, then choose to "like" or "pass" their bagels. If two members "like" each other's profiles, they are matched and given the opportunity to meet in person. If you want to find out who is the social connection between you and your match (a.k.a. your mutual friend), you can pay money to the site.
As Time magazine describes Tinder:
"Tinder is a smartphone app that at first seems like a higher tech version 'hot or not.' Users are shown photos of nearby potential matches and can swipe right to 'like' and left for 'nope.' Mutual right swipes result in a match, followed by the prompt to either send a message or 'keep playing.'"
Fast-growing app Tinder instantly introduces you to your friends’ friends, using the same premise of inclusive social networks that Coffee Meets Bagel uses. Except, Tinder has unofficially become the app for fast flings, instead of relationships, as reported in the most recent Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. Yes, it apparently is popular with some athletes.