Dr Jane McGonigal is an expert in the creations of games and gamified interfaces that promote learning and social engagement. She is a gaming legend and to date her TED talks have been watched over 10 million times. Check out her tips for Massively Multi-player Thumb-wrestling – a super-fun physical game that relaxes, connects and engages people physically.
When Jane McGonigal suffered a major concussion in 2009, at the age of 32, she became bedridden and suffered severe depression. After she recovered, she turned to her skills in games and gamification to explore how she could share her process of recovery with others and help them to recover from trauma and/or achieve health goals. She developed SuperBetter.
SuperBetter is a web-based and smartphone based application that provides players with learning tools to help them to achieve health goals such as recovery from depressions and anxiety, or losing weight. SuperBetter uses a gamified interface and players are invited to “complete quests,” “activate power-ups,” and “battle bad guys.” Each of these actions involves small chunk-sized modifications to habitual actions or negative thought patterns. For example “activating a power-up” requires undertaking a simple physical action such as chugging a glass of water or walking around the block. Each power-up that is successfully activated accrues points for the player. Superbetter can be played online with allies.
SuperBetter has now been played by nearly 500,000 people and a randomized controlled trial, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania studying the effects of SuperBetter on depression, showed that players experienced improved moods, increased social support, relief of symptoms of anxiety and depression, and increased life satisfaction.
Jane McGonigal’s book SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient—Powered by the Science of Games is being published by Penguin Press on September 15th 2015.