Project Part II: Motivation
This week’s scenario:
You are approached by Ryan Morrison, the mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest of the United States. He has heard that you know a lot about gamification and believes that gamification techniques can transform city government.
He would like to start with the health of city employees. The city has 50,000 employees and they happen to have exactly the same rates of obesity as the U.S. average: 34.4% overweight (but not obese) and 33.9% of them are obese. 53.1% of the city’s employees do not meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity and 76% of them fail to meet the Guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity. The city pays for health benefits for its employees and this cost is a huge part of the city budget. Economists in Mayor Morrison’s office have estimated that a 3% improvement in the average physical fitness of city employees would amount to a US$94 million reduction in annual city health costs; a 5% improvement would save US$188 million.
Describe in general terms a gamified system that could effectively motivate behavior change to address the challenge presented above. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both.
Your answer should address the fact that this is an internal gamification project, targeted at the institutional goals of the city government. The system can use any technology (or no technology!), so long as the resources required seem justified by the scope of the opportunity.
In this paper I will show how the city government can use gamification to effectively motivate behavior change among its 50,000 employees, by incorporating a social wellness service called ShapeUp.
The theoretical framework is based on Self Determination Theory.
According to their blog post “Innovations Transforming Corporate Wellness: Gaming” ShapeUp is using gamification in the following way:
“Social wellness companies like ShapeUp are designing packaged games that have different themes, use different gaming mechanics, and have different rules. All of this combines to drive people to change their behavior and achieve their health goals, whether they are focused on physical activity, nutrition, or preventive care. And the best part is that this is that it doesn’t have to be top-down programming; what is really innovative is when employees design the games themselves. For example, social wellness platforms enable an employee to challenge a colleague to go jogging today. And then they can track if the goal was accomplished, perhaps evening winning a prize for their accomplishment, depending on how the competition is structured and the gaming dynamics that are in play..
[This implies that the city government can use one serviceeven though there are two segments; a) the 1/3 who are overweight but not obese and b) those who are obese. By allowing the users to define the challenges themselves the program is meant to create intrinsic motivation]
..What’s great about games is that not only will they ramp up employee engagement in your corporate wellness program, but they also promote tracking, which is a great way for those of us in the corporate wellness space to achieve our goals. We know that when people set personal goals and track their progress toward reaching these goals, they’re much more likely to succeed. Behavior change research has demonstrated this. With daily tracking data, individuals get insights, and can make day-to-day adjustments based on their performance. Games get people tracking, as they have a new, engaging reasons to do so. In many instances, they will even want to share their results so they can inspire their team. This provides a feeling of obligation to all team members, and suddenly people are tracking all of their different health metrics over time.”
The program can work as a variable schedule reward machine; giving the participants a Skinnerian “rat in a box dopamine addiction” but within a self made structure, based on social interaction and meaningful growth for the users.
The institutional goals for the city government should therefore be to allow the workers full autonomy of the program, and only facilitate it by:
- Paying for it.
- Having healthy food in the cafeterias.
- Setting up shower rooms so that workers can run or cycle to work.