Everybody is a gamer in one way or another, as humans almost always try to find a way to create fun and interesting goals on our way to completing a task. For example, trying to read so much during a regular commute may be of little importance in the grand scheme of things, but it gives you a sense of satisfaction during an otherwise boring ride, and gets you through your reading material faster. Researchers at the University of Southern California decided to incorporate gaming elements into a wellness program, hoping they would enhance its affects.
The researchers used two groups consisting of young to middle-aged adults and gave both groups an online diary to record their activity and progress. One of the groups was also given the task of reporting points they had earned for reporting what exercises they performed, and these points could be redeemed for special animations for their online avatars. After five weeks, the groups switched so everyone had the same experience over a ten-week period, though in different orders.
Everyone who participated in the research reported an increase in physical activity, but those in the group that started with the gaming elements reported a greater increase. Similarly, at the five week check-in the gaming group showed a larger decrease in body-mass index than the other group, though both groups did see a decrease at this time.