What makes you want to play Angry Birds over and over?

I had avoided the Angry Birds game until two very good friends of mine told me: “Just play it! You will see…”

So I did. To give you an idea of how hooked I got, I will admit to being stuck on one level (Level 3-5, in case you’re curious) for half of the flight back from Boston a couple of months ago.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my son (who also loves the game in all of its variations) about what makes Angry Birds so special. We jointly came to these two conclusions:

  • Simplicity: the premise of the game is SUPER-simple. You don’t have to think to play it. You don’t really even have to do much but play it… By the time you start Googling how to proceed within the game (am I the only one that has done it?) it’s simply because the game gets progressively more complex, but the basic principles are the same: you got a bunch of (angry) birds to help you get rid of a bunch of pigs by knocking down the hideout they are in.
  • Strategy: you can’t play all levels of the game the same way, much like you can’t apply a one-size-fits-all tactic to all situations in life. You have to assess your resources (birds) vs. the goal you’re faced with (the # of pigs and how they are spread out through their hideout). Then you have to plan: not as in “Project Plan” but as in “OK, here’s what I am going to try this time around!” If your plan doesn’t work, you go back to the drawing board and try another plan.

Today, I ran into an amazing post titled “Why Angry Birds Gets More Play Than Health Apps” and the whole conversation with my son about Angry Birds came back. This time, it made me think about health applications… and I realized that the reality about making a user go back and want to keep on using a health application (0r web site) is not so distant from the reasons that make Angry Birds so addictive. This phrases sums up the concept:

If we are going to use a new website or device or program, we want it to be easy. We want it to save time, not take time.

How cool is that? Being addicted to doing healthy things, huh? What is your experience with health applications that work or don’t work? What makes them tick?

Healthseeker: Engaging and Motivating with a Facebook Game

This is the slidedeck for a presentation about HealthSeeker, the healthy Facebook Game we developed at the Diabetes Hands Foundation, in collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center.

I am presenting HealthSeeker along with Michael Fergusson, from Ayogo Games, at e-Patient Connections 2010 Sept. 28, 2010:

Session description:
There is a widely-held belief that playing games online is a waste of time at best (“Your friend sent you a sheep!”), and part of an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle at worst. A closer look reveals something quite different, however: games and play are one of the strongest motivators of behaviour, and a key tool for anyone looking to develop or reinforce healthy habits. HealthSeeker is a game that turns your Facebook network of friends onto a source of support as you complete real-world missions to get healthier through simple everyday actions. Join us for a discussion about the game, how it works and how it came about.

Play HealthSeeker at:

Like HealthSeeker at:

Follow HealthSeeker at:

HealthSeeker: a healthy Facebook game

We are SUPER-excited to announce one of the biggest undertakings we’ve worked on pretty much since we launched our communities.

It’s called HealthSeeker, a new Facebook® game, with the goal of helping players make specific lifestyle changes that focus on healthy eating. While the benefits of the game are available to anyone, HealthSeeker™ specifically helps people with diabetes make more informed lifestyle decisions in an innovative way that complements their daily use of social media.

HealthSeeker™ combines a supportive social networking environment with important information on managing diabetes. The game utilizes the player’s own Facebook® friends as sources of inspiration and support on the road to better health.

There are MISSIONS and ACTION STEPS to help players achieve LIFESTYLE GOALS and create an opportunity to advance in the game. These LIFESTYLE GOALS include eating more healthfully, achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, improving one’s diabetes control and lowering cardiovascular risk factors. As ACTION STEPS are completed and players return to report their progress, they receive experience points and other awards for their achievements.

HealthSeeker™ is a unique collaboration between diabetes experts and patient advocates who are on the front lines of diabetes care. It was developed by the Diabetes Hands Foundation in collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center, with financial support provided by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

We wanted to harness the Facebook® phenomenon to help people with diabetes make necessary changes in their daily lives. Many people with diabetes struggle with the lifestyle changes that are needed to help manage their condition, such as adding more fiber, fruit and vegetables to their diets, or increasing their daily activity. HealthSeeker™ can help people with diabetes stay motivated by suggesting simple, everyday steps to help them achieve their lifestyle goals and then rewarding them for their success.

One of the people involved in the Joslin team was Dr. Richard Jackson (an endocrinologist and Director of Medical Affairs, Healthcare Services, Joslin Diabetes Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School). He had this to say about the game and his hopes for it:

“As a clinician who has been treating people with diabetes for over 30 years, I can tell you that food is often the most frustrating area of concern for people with the condition. We hope this novel and engaging game will break down some of the barriers that are preventing people with diabetes from building a successful lifestyle approach to their condition.”

Here is a video to give you a feel about the game:

HealthSeeker™ can be accessed at www.healthseekergame.org. The game was designed by Ayogo Games, Inc.