Self-help 2.0 is self-gamification

Disappointingly, behaviour change through ‘just gamifying your own health tracking’ doesn’t always work very well. Why not? It just might turn out that, for most of us, personal health tracking is not really a single player game.

If, like me, you didn’t know about the Quantified Self movement (that Michael Kim seems to be challenging in the video above) then watch this video by another speaker at the same event:

Another major field covered in Michael Kim’s talk was discussed here:

Here’s the intro to the talk in the first video:

Behavior-Change Gaming

Gamification was mentioned in passing prior to his talk, but Michael Kim’s presentation was the first to focus exclusively on health and gaming.

As an entrepreneur and head of a new Seattle-based company, Kairos Labs, Kim’s talk centered on his company’s efforts to launch “behavior-change gaming”, a sub-genre of the Serious Games genre.

“These are games that apply behavior change and cognitive behavioral psychology in order to affect self-development,” says Kim.

Kim’s approach to wellness game design borrows from the tenets of long time Positive Psychology creator and proponent, Martin Seligman, whose work on ‘flourishing’ has been getting increasing attention in the wellness community.

According to Kim, the games are framed around Seligman’s concepts of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement (PERMA).

In terms of keeping people engaged, games, in general, work at a neurological level to release chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and eustress that provide both motivation and reward.

Kim also emphasized the importance of these games being social in play mechanics, not something you do just by yourself.

According to Kim, “if we really want to make a dramatic change in health [through gaming], then it needs to be multi-player.”

Kim’s talk was given at Consumer-Centric Health: MODELS FOR CHANGE ’11, a conference that featured more than 20 presentations on all facets of health behavior change.

The presenters represented diverse fields of medicine, employer health, mobile technology, health insurance, gaming, public health, research, and anthropology.

The 1½ day conference, held at Seattle University in Seattle, Washington, began with an opening keynote on Oct 12, with the main sessions on Oct 13, divided into three sections:

(1)    what’s working in behavior change

(2)    how to scale behavior change

(3)    what else is needed to make behavior change more effective and sustainable.

Models for Change ’11 was convened by Health Innoventions with support from Bastyr University’s Center for Health Policy & Leadership and Seattle University’s Organization Systems Renewal Program.

Here’s Michael Kim’s bio:

CEO & Founder, Kairos Labs

Co-Organizer, Habit Design Meetup

Recently Director with XBox LIVE and Co-Founder of Microsoft Surface, Michael Kim is a serial entrepreneur at building innovative social interactive platforms spanning Mobile, Social Gaming, Social Networking, Consoles, & Interactive TV.

Kairos Labs is a new kind of gameful studio that’s defining the emerging genre of Mobile Habit Development by integrating Mobile, Social Gaming, & cutting-edge Behavior-Change/Positive Psychology techniques.

Among the studio’s development experiences include developing the largest Twitter community (Twibes, reaching 1 Million Twitter users), Zuckerbucks (Facebook’s first virtual currency), and StarCraft II.

In addition to recently launching XBox LIVE Marketplace (the worlds largest social entertainment service in the living room, reaching over 200 Million players and $600 Million revenue) and Microsoft Surface, Michael has previously led new social computing ventures with Windows Live Messenger, MSN Mobile, Microsoft TV, & AT&T Broadband.

Along the way, he has forged strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as WPP, AT&T, Verizon, Electronic Arts, Disney, Viacom, MasterCard, and many others.

Michael holds Masters & Bachelors degrees from Harvard & Yale Universities respectively.