Personal touch missing from gamification

Healthcare game designers are forgetting the human aspects.
By Diana Manos
12:48 PM

Gamification in heathcare has a long way to go to hit the target.

That’s the contention of Michael Fergusson, CEO and founder of Ayogo, a company that uses game psychology to design social games and apps to engage, educate and empower patients with chronic conditions.

”Designing games is hard,” he said, “but slowly, bit by bit, we’re seeing some improvement in healthcare.”

The problem? Healthcare game designers are forgetting the human aspects. Case in point: How many healthcare games or apps have an avatar? Very few. And that personal element is what’s missing for engaging people, Fergusson said. 

Fergusson and other experts will be presenting at a day-long event on Sunday, Dec. 7, in Washington, D.C., as part of the mHealth Summit 2014.

Games need to be designed around human psychology, according to Fergusson, or people won’t play them. Simple as that. Games should be “as subtle and complex” as the human mind, he said, adding that “there needs to be an emotional connection.”

That’s where avatars come in. They create that personal connection with the game. Information a physician gives to a patient on how to manage a chronic disease might be easy for a patient to ignore on a written piece of paper, or not exciting.

Games — if done right — can go a long way toward improving that. “Just because something’s important," Fergusson continued, “doesn’t mean it has to be dreary.”

Healthcare apps need to take an evolutionary path, something like vacuums have undergone in recent years. Vacuums used to be heavy and weren’t ergonomically suited to people. Now, some are being designed with human needs first. The same must happen with healthcare app development, Fergusson said. 

Fergusson’s session, titled “The next big thing: What are VCs targeting in mHealth?,” will feature Wireless Industry Partnership CEO Caroline Lewko and other panelists, offering an in-depth look into mobile application development, from how to begin to the key ingredients needed to get the best results. The session will allow for networking and Q&A in an informal, flexible style.

“Get prepared for lively discussions on platform choices, monetization, APIs, big data and ways to make an app stand out with gamification, social media and location,” the mHealth Summit planner said. 

The mHealth Summit runs from Dec. 7-11 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Register here.

This story originally appeared at Healthcare IT News sister site mHealth News.