The NY Times recently ran a great article on the possibility of harnessing the engaging power of games to create meaningful progress in the real world. The article speaks with a number of people who are experimenting and innovating to make that happen. Jane McGonigal is mentioned as urging the application of a gaming mindset to achieve noble outcomes and goes deep on this topic in her TED talk Gaming Can Make A Better World. Another insightful thinker in the article is Nicole Lazzaro, who named the concept of challenging fun “fiero”. The idea is that when you work at something and succeed, you have a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. You can read her presentation on the key emotions in social gaming from the Game Developers Conference.
Posit Science has been thinking since its inception that we can use gaming to help people improve brain performance. We started with single player games in BrainHQ, giving progress feedback and regular rewards to motivate usage. Those elements worked to create ongoing engagement as many customers who start training see benefits in their everyday lives.
The team here felt there was more to be done, though. A key observation was made by the team in looking at our data on usage and performance – people who used our brain fitness software in groups like residential communities or adult education like the LA Unified School District trained more and therefore improved more. This is the same concept that organizations like Team in Training and Weight Watchers tap into by having meetings and community support for one another when tackling a challenge.