Gamification Meets Lazy People

At work we talk about making our software fun to use. A word that gets thrown around a lot is gamification. 

To quote the wise philosopher Mary Poppins, “you SNAP! The job is a game!” This is the logic behind gamification. Take something people don’t want to do, and turn it into a game and voilà! You suddenly do want to do your paperwork/do your dishes/exercise/fold your laundry/not live in squalor!

On the tails of the new year, I’m sure many of us have those “be better” resolutions. Be better at exercising. Be better at drinking water. Be better at not eating so many cheese curds. Luckily, companies are getting wise to the fact that we’re all still basically children who get bored if left alone for 10 minutes. 

Here are some of my favorite fitness/nutrition apps that have hopped on the game-train:

Plant Nanny

One of my goals for this year/every year forever and ever is to drink more water. For all of you who nursed your Tamagotchis when you were younger, this one is for you. For those who let yours die, carry on. 

It either needs more water or it ate a questionable hot dog.


Every time you drink a glass of water, you enter it in the game, and your plant perks up and you gain points. Reaching the next level helps the plant to grow, and helps you not to die of thirst!

As you can see, my plant Brenda is doing really really well.


I have a complicated relationship with Pact. In concept, it’s pretty cool. You can make a fitness or nutrition “pact”- will eat 14 vegetables this week, will be active 4 days this week, etc.- and if you meet your pact, you are rewarded a small amount of real-life money. If you don’t meet your pact, you have to pay real-life actual money. The stakes have never been higher.

The good news: with a pact looming over my head, it actually does help me exercise more and eat more vegetables. 

The bad news: the app has some serious kinks to work out. Interface issues. Usability issues. The software tester in me breaks out in emotional hives.
Zombies, Run!  

This ones pretty great. Audiobook meets workout app. The app sets up a narrative where you, the runner are tasked with missions, worked into a playlist on your iPhone/iPod/android thing that might have a special name but I don’t know it. As you run, listening to the story line, you may encounter a hoard of zombies and be told to run faster. You may collect supplies you can use to rebuild the town. You may, just maybe, forget for a second that you’re running.

What about you guys? Any favorites?

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