Adventures @ FITology | #5 – The Game of Families | Alternate Reality Game

This continuing series is contributed by Saamir Gupta, who is a member of the OctalysisPrime community.

Family members are the first friends that we make, our first social interaction with the world. And family is not just the parents and siblings but grandparents both maternal and paternal and their brothers and sisters and their families. In Eastern Civilizations, for a long time, we have had the culture of living together in what we called the joint families. Now, thanks to the rapidly evolving technologies that are bringing the world closer, people prefer nuclear families. But most of us do relish those special times we get to meet our extended family members – be it on special occasions or casual encounters.

Because compassion and empathy are true drivers of happiness, and we naturally have very strong compassion and empathy towards our family members, it was a sweet spot for us to place our health and wellness game.

The objective – as always – make individuals aware about their health and wellness journey and help them make substantial progress. Disguise – fun game with extended family members living nearby or far off.

As always, we set out some ground rules to conceptualize the game –

·       Family members aka participants should have the autonomy to opt in to the game

·       The focus has to be playing on intrinsic motivation – social collaboration, surprise and fun, purpose and meaning

·       There should be a quantifiable improvement in the wellness levels of the individual family members aka participants, post the game

Keeping the ground rules in mind, we picked a super enthusiastic family member and he reached out to the larger group of family asking who wanted in. There were about 20 people interested, who were asked to take a quick online assessment for us to understand their current body statistics, fitness levels and motivations & constraints.

We prepared a four week concept based on fun, interesting, wellness based tasks to be performed by individuals keeping the intrinsic motivators on point!

The downside of using points and badges to make people do a particular task is that people attribute the value of the task or the fun of the task to the points they get because of doing the task – this is dangerous as eventually, people will lose interest in the points and hence the task.  We crafted the game in such a manner that we had points and leaderboards to win the game, but not directly focused on developing healthy habits.

Each week, we had a different concept and hence different teams. Participants were given activities and tasks around nutrition, mindfulness and physical exercises. The weekly concept and activities were explained on the common whatsapp group which was used as a common communication portal.

Performance on each activity was to be reported by the participants or their respective team captains. We had captains in each team to ensure supervision and nudge for participants who might falter or get lazy. But the selection of the captain was done by the teams themselves.

The main focus of each activity in first couple of weeks was to make participants aware about different facets of health and wellness, just how fun practicing those little things can be. In the first week, one task was sending ‘I love you’ messages to other team members on the common group. Even though we did not keep any points for participants to successfully complete this activity – this was one activity which had maximum engagement. Which shows how powerful intrinsic motivation is compared to extrinsic rewards.

There was enough autonomy provided to participants, to be able to choose, within the construct of the team, which activities they wanted to pick up and if they wanted to scale the activities basis their respective health levels. Every time a feedback message for ‘drink water’ challenge would come up, it would automatically remind other members to drink water – which participants thought is much more promising and fun, as compared to a health app reminding you to drink water.

During the course of the four weeks, participants did burpees as if it was a walk in the park, they created beautiful dishes out of buckwheat and quinoa and quit drinking tea and coffee. They started sharing their respective feelings and experiences on meditation which prompted others to pick it up too. It got husbands to cook with their wives in the kitchen.

In terms of tangible output, there was a substantial increase in the health and wellness levels of the individuals by the end of the four weeks – we did another quick assessment to quantify that and on an average there was a 15% improvement. More importantly, it was a lot of fun, it brought families together and helped develop healthy habits that would last for a lifetime.

About the author –

Saamir is the founder of FITology. He creates alternate reality games to nudge people towards a healthier lifestyle. Over the last five years, he has developed and executed fun, engaging and gamified concepts for people across geographies, cultures and ages. As an ex-strategy consultant, he has advised world’s largest oil, chemicals and electricity companies on growth, cost reduction and operations optimization. He is also a Crossfit L1 Trainer, ACE Certified Group Instructor and trained Bollywood dancer & actor. He loves to travel around the world and make new friends.

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