Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: SuperBetter

I first heard about SuperBetter from a TED Talk by one of its creators, Jane McGonigal. SuperBetter is an online and mobile "gameification" that allows users to earn points for working toward their goals. McGonigal was inspired to create the game while recovering from a concussion, using "allies" and "quests" to help her stay focused on behaviors that would help improve her health.

While watching the video, I confused her with Kelly McGonigal, and thought that the game was created to help people improve their willpower. There is a Willpower "PowerPack" for the game, so I guess that isn't too much of a stretch. (At least I didn't confuse her with Minerva McGonigal.)

PowerPacks are modules for SuperBetter that center around a specific goal or philosophy. They provide specific PowerUps (small tasks), Quests, and Bad Guys to add to the original, more general SuperBetter ones.  Besides Willpower, there are Quit Smoking, Quit Anything, Your Body is Awesome, and The Full Plate Diet PowerPacks, just to name a few.

I have been playing around with the game, and I think it could be fun. I haven't had much luck recruiting allies, people who play the game with me, but it's still somewhat fun to record my accomplishments and score points.

There are many self-help books that involve a lot of homework-like assignments, and I always end up failing to incorporate their very good advice because they seem like too much work. I think that many of these assignments could be incorporated into PowerPacks for this game. I could see a Beck Diet PowerPack, for example, or a  PowerPack, or a  one (one that did not send a million emails selling feather dusters, preferably). These could be a nice accompaniment to the books, and could help people use the ideas to make their lives better.

The game can be played on an iPhone or through a web browser. There is an Android version in the works. I have noticed a few weird quirks on the iPhone version, like the fact that I only get a few Quests, and if I don't like those, I have to create my own.  I am not sure if this is a bug or a feature. The game is free, so if you find the idea at all intriguing and decide to give it a try, let me know. I'd love to have a few allies in the game.  I am using my gmail address for the game and my username is toledolefty.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07