3 min read

The Game of Weight Loss

Is the gamification of fitness really what you need or want? Or is this simply better than nothing?
The Game of Weight Loss

I’m not really one for playing video games, at least not a lot of the modern games out there.

With the notable exception of strategy games, and perhaps the odd Role-Playing Game (RPG), which I find challenge my creativity and problem solving skills.

In any case, I feel like I am actually getting something out of them.

If you’re trying to lose weight, and you’ve resorted to trying the ever expanding fitness game selection, I think your journey should actually look a lot more like Zelda, and a little less like Wii Fit.

Seems like a strange observation right? Let me explain…

I applaud the effort of video game companies to create ‘pseudo-moral’ games with these fitness offerings.

It’s a nice feeling to release or provide something that may do some good in the world, and make you a little money.

I like the quantitative data they think users should get, through standard fitness tests, you know…how much do you weigh?

How many pushups can you do?

How many sit-ups in a minute?

That kind of thing…

However, there are 2 sides to the brain and only one thinks of things in logical, numeric sequences. Relying on data alone is a surefire way to make change less meaningful to the right side of the brain which is your emotional, more creative side, it goes on feel.

Right now, a video game like Wii Fit, might be ok for your average fitness enthusiast. I just don’t think they are the valid solution to really helping people lose weight or get fit, even from a gaming perspective — I hope some gaming companies are taking some notes! haha.

They make a valid attempt at games that may — or may not — help people to get fit and have fun doing it. They have all the data you could possibly want or need to know about fitness.

They spend millions of dollars, hire the best trainers, kinesiologist’s, exercises guru’s and experts and we end up with some demonstrations, some workouts, maybe a goal-setting process, and that’s it?

It’s basically the cheaper equivalent of getting a gym membership, signing up for bootcamps or hiring a bad personal trainer that just puts you through the motions.

Is this the best we can do?

Most commercial fitness clubs are banking on the fact that only 1 in 5 people will actually show up regularly to the gym, so they oversell memberships and crowd the place out at busy times of day.

They hope you sign up and never go, that’s why they can offer you a gym membership at less than $40 a month.

The fitness biz is mostly flawed as a result, because it focuses too heavily on going through the motions, relying on cheap monthly dues and not enough on teaching.

Whether you’re playing the game of weight-loss in real life, or through a game, I think there should be more of a beginning and an end. There should be a story-line journey that individuals must progress through and maybe even repeat with different outcomes.

I think if fitness and gaming companies started to pay attention to what a lot of fitblgrs on Tumblr are doing, you’d actually see some trends that would actually be useful in designing a “fitness” game. It would at least yield a realistic sense of what a weight-loss journey is really like.

You would see just how frequently the weight-loss, health or fitness journey is essentially 2 steps forward, 1 step back, 3 steps forward, 3 steps back.

It’s like a life puzzle each and every one of them is solving. It’s a thing of beauty really.

Do you guys remember those books you could read in the early 90’s or late 80’s where you picked how the story evolved?

If you thought A was should happen, skip through to page 86, or if you think B will happen go back to page 34?

What if a fitness game was like that?

What if we could bottle the experiences of successful weight-loss bloggers, who have kept off the weight for a year or more and put them in a game?

What if fitness is actually like that? I think it is.

This seems much more appropriate, only you’re playing the role of yourself.

It’s not really about the stats or data and crunching the numbers.

None of that stuff will help you if you injure your groin in the process and still want to find a way to train. None of that stuff will help you determine you actually have a gluten intolerance and that’s what is holding you back.

None of that stuff will help you realize that quality food is far more important than recording caloric intake alone — 800 calories of sugar is not the same as 800 calories of protein and carbohydrates from vegetables.

The reality is that weight loss is really about creative problem solving. It’s a journey, a process you must go through.

You plan sure, but you also have to adapt to new situations as they pop-up or occur.

Don’t sit on the bench or stay on the side-lines.

Experience it.