Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MOOC on Gamification: Written Assignment 2

Resposta ao trabalho escrito (written assignment 2) proposto no curso sobre Gamification do Prof. Kevin Werbach no Coursera (ver também o post com o written assignment 1).

Project Part II: Motivation

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.


The objective of the system is to change the behavior of city employees concerning their health in order to decrease city health costs. So, the system must address two main issues:
- promote healthy eating habits;
- promote physical activity.

For this purpose, employees must attend to specialized advices from nutricionists and medical doctors and follow an adequate diet in order to imporve their eating habits. In order to improve their physical condition they must take part in different physical activities.

First, a main, global and measurable objective must be set. Something like the average weight of city employees must be X pounds within a year or city employees must lost a total of X pounds by the end of next year. Each employee must feel that is contributing to larger objective. Besides this global objective, each employee must set their own individual goals, according to each one's condition, health and interests. Like this, each employee will have a sense of power and autonomy (as defined in self-determination theory) since is able to choose the best approach to meet the challenge.

The main common objective for all employees must be divided into different smaller steps. In each step, the result must be converted to something tangible, beyond the purpose of the system. For example, the amount of pounds lost in a certain period could be converted in an amount of food delivered to homeless people in the city. Like this, employees will feel that are contributing to something larger then themselves creating a feeling of relatedness as defined in self-determination theory.

All activities to promote an healthier life could be done individually or could involve groups of employees. Some activities could also involve employees' families and friends. Like this, each employee will feel that is part of a larger community pursuing the main goal. This also reflects the sense of relatedness.

All of these features incorporate intrinsic motivation.

To put all of these ideas into practice, technology is needed: first, a website/social network must be developed for this purpose (with profiles for employees). An app for mobiles (smartphones and tablets) must also be provided. To measure each employees physical activities, it will be needed some device to collect data (with gps capabilities). The device will then upload the collected data to the website. This is not a new idea. This is what Nike+ is doing with a special watch and other devices. A specific device could also be build. I am assuming that a reasonable budget would be assured for the system considering the predictions on the reduction of city health costs. Another way to measure physical activity could be done by some agreement with gyms that will record employees' visits and activities.

As for eating habits, if employees go to nutritionists and doctor appointments they could be rewarded (using badges as a fixed ratio reward that could be seen in the employee's profile). Healthy meals could also be shared allowing the other employees to vote on those meals. Other game elements like learderboards and points (completing the PBL triad) must be used. These elements must be convertible to tangible rewards like tickets to concerts or sport events. These late features incorporate extrinsic motivation.

Besides extrinsic motivation features, the gamified system must rely mainly in intrinsic motivators.

Grade (10/10): Your grade is 10, which was calculated based on a combination of the grade you received from your peers and the grade you gave yourself.

Peer's comments:

What I liked was,

self → A strategy based on exercise and healthier eating habits. The use of technology (website, specific hardware).
student1 → the strongest idea I found to be the idea of donating weight loss as food to the poor, I liked that a lot
student2 → Clear understanding of the topic.
student3 → well-written, rewards can be converted to food for homeless, concert tickets.
student4 → the system captured both the qualitative and the quantitative aspects of the expected objective
student5 → specific examples of ways to support the individuals goals.

What could have made this submission better was...

self → A better explanation about the use of extrinsic motivation and how city employees could benefit from it.
student1 → You are clearly passionate about the subject. A lot of what you are writing about is, in my opinion (and who the hell am I anyway) more about possible awareness campaigns that about implementing a gamified system. I understood the task to be about creating motivation in getting people to exercise. You took a track of driving hard to get people to see nutritionists, medical doctors etc. It's going to be hard to get people to see the fun in that. I see bits an pieces of good ideas, I think you could build a more coherent whole with what you have here.
student2 → There were too much steps. A lot of division into steps made the assignment somewhat boring.
student3 → it's good!
student4 → it was ok
student5 → clearer organization and structure of the paragraph, introduce the type of motivation at the beginning instead of revealing at the end of the examples what type of motivation you have been talking about. This is sometimes referred to as "burying the headline" and can be avoided.

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