A big thanks to Jessica Hammer for her valuable presentation at Saatchi & Saatchi during Social Media Week NYC today. Entitled Designing for Desire, Hammer demonstrated what we can learn from the gaming world about motivating people to make healthier lifestyle choices. This was an important presentation for anyone interested in wellness in the workplace, including the new “health designers” who are responsible for creating programs for employees and clients. It also proves useful for marketers who are hawking health, diet, exercise and food products.
Hammer explained that inspiring people to do things like – stop smoking, eat healthier and exercise daily will not work when we focus on the fearful long-term consequences of such unhealthy behavior -1.emphazema/ lung cancer 2. obesity and diabetes and cardiac disease.
It seems that things like denial, social desirability bias and reactance get in the way. People in general will do anything to avoid the idea of being sick or on their deathbed. Think about the scare tactics used on cigarette packaging (photos of diseased lungs, rotten teeth, etc). The mind just fights these messages and the tactic doesn’t work.
Hammer believes that games can intervene before health problems happen and a gamers approach is a more effective way to create programs for healthier change. Check out The Fun Theory for a great example on You Tube. Making something fun, can obviously change behavior.
She recommends focusing on-
- Creating meaning (what people really want)
- Supporting identity (connecting with who people really want to be)
- Sparking action (while creating pleasure in the process)
Check out Health Month, the game to improve your diet, fitness, mental health, relationship health and financial health.
Jessica Hammer is a Mellon Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Fellow at Columbia University and game designer. She combines game design with qualitative and quantitative research techniques to study conceptual change, learning and creativity in the context of play. Learn more about Hammer here.