No navel-gazing here

News And Views

News & Views

  • 30 August 2016
  • Daphine Sabazira

Game on for Health Benefits

It seems as though every summer a new craze grabs the nation’s attention and this year has been no exception. Since its launch last month Pokémon Go has become one of the most popular mobile game apps and with more than 100 million downloads worldwide so far neighbourhoods and public parks have now been heaving with excited players trying to “catch ’em all.”

What’s been interesting to see is how this augmented reality-meets-GPS game is encouraging physical activity and receiving praise from healthcare experts.

You don’t need to think too far back to remember that earlier this year, the news was dominated with concerns about the state of the nation’s health. For example reports show that obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years, and the number of people living with diabetes has tipped over the 4 million mark. Worldwide diabetes has now been coined as a serious threat to population health by the World Health Organisation, with the most common form largely brought on as a result of being overweight and not exercising.

Current national health initiatives set up to reduce obesity include the NHS’s Change4Life campaign, Ukactive’s annual national fitness day crusade and this year’s proposed sugar tax levy on the soft drinks industry all of which use a range of channels to seed their messages.

Companies have been using gamification to engage consumers with their products or services for nearly 10 years and healthcare is increasingly becoming a part of this market. This coupled with the rising use of smartphones and social media usage highlights a strong area of opportunity for healthcare campaigners and companies. The rising trend in video games such as Pokémon Go, Zumba Fitness and Zombie Run, are showing that mixing competition and entertainment are invaluable tools that could help consumers become more engaged with their own health.

Gamification has also found its way into health services; the augmented reality technology used in games such as Pokémon Go is also being used for training healthcare professionals and improving certain treatments. So it’s game on for health benefits when it comes to technology and gamification.