Gamification
Ready, steady, GO!

Pokémon Go got people off the sofa and walking – for fun. So what can fitness providers learn from this success? Kate Cracknell reports

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 9


Some have been hailing it a cure for obesity. Others are being more pragmatic, acknowledging it as a fun trend – albeit one that is, at least until the novelty wears off, getting sedentary people off the sofa in their droves.

But however you view it, Pokémon Go has certainly dominated the headlines since it launched at the beginning of July. And deservedly so: I only have to glance out of my window, at pretty much any time of the day and well past sunset, to see people of all ages – from kids to teens in hoodies to older folks (with no kids in sight to use as an excuse) – playing the game… and having fun while walking.

The debate has already been rumbling about how long-term the appeal of Pokémon Go might be – how sustainable its boost to activity levels, and how significant its impact on public health. So rather than repeat those discussions, we’ve asked the experts a question we believe to be far more important for the fitness and activity sector in the long run: What can we learn from the huge success of Pokémon Go?



An Coppens Chief game changer Gamification Nation

 

An Coppens
 

To understand what lessons gyms can take from Pokémon Go, we first have to ask: why does it work?

One key is that it hooks you from the word go: it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll catch a Pokémon in the first moments of gameplay, and these opportunities arise frequently in the first few days. This keeps people engaged and wanting to catch more, because it seemed easy. What quick wins can gyms focus on with new members?

To progress any further in the game, you need to visit PokeStops – ammunition stops – and you have to physically walk there. People are motivated to travel the distances to see what happens – but exercise is the by-product of the game, not the end in itself. This is another important learning for fitness providers.

Walking distances are also rewarded with medals, and that feelgood buzz of achievement, combined with the endorphins from physical exercise, is a winning formula.

Because of its popularity, players also experience a sense of belonging even before they join teams: players are easily recognisable as most will be walking around staring at their smartphones! Gyms need to create this sense of ‘club’.

Added positive buzz comes from finding Pokémon and catching them, which isn’t a guarantee. The combination of curiosity and achievement are what in the gamification world we call ‘white hat motivators’; the scarcity and fear of missing out on Pokémon is a ‘black hat motivator’. Think of it as ‘toward’ motivation and ‘away from’ motivation. Fitness almost always focuses on ‘toward’ motivation – perhaps it’s time to exploit the fear of missing out?

The thing that keeps Pokémon Go users interested is the element of surprise and delight when a new Pokémon is won, a bit of competition to keep a Pokegym under their ownership, and the friendship of others using the application – all great learnings for gyms, which need to add creativity and gamification to their offer. This sort of technology is here to stay, and gyms should join in the fun.


"It’s almost guaranteed you’ll catch a Pokémon in the first moments of gameplay. This engages people because it seemed easy. So what quick wins can gyms focus on with new members?" - An Coppens



Dr William Bird CEO Intelligent Health

 

Dr William Bird
 

Since its launch, Pokémon Go has inspired millions of players to go outside and get active in a way that traditional health campaigns have not. We’re therefore likely to see many organisations and campaigns attempt to emulate the success of Pokémon Go.

For health and fitness providers, the key lesson to take away from the success of Pokémon Go is that, if done well, games and fun, free initiatives can help break down the perceived barriers to becoming active.

The potential of using games to promote physical activity can be demonstrated through Intelligent Health’s award-winning Beat the Street scheme (see HCM Aug 16, p10), which transforms a town into a real life game that the whole community is invited to play. With more than 450,000 players of all ages to date, the game reaches a wide demographic including the most inactive, older and elderly people, and those from hard to reach communities.

Beat the Street also transforms the health of those who have taken part: in 2015, one in every seven adults said they were inactive at the start of the game – but by the end, 78 per cent of these people said they had become more active. With evidence of sustained change over six to eight months, Beat the Street has proved that gamification can have a positive long-term effect on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

I’m incredibly excited to see if Pokémon Go can keep its players active and exploring outdoors in the coming months, as well as its larger impact on health and fitness providers. The game has helped break down the barriers to physical activity for millions of people; hopefully organisations can learn from Pokémon Go’s success and do the same for people in their local areas.




David Minton Director The Leisure Database Company

 

David Minton
 

Gamifying fitness isn’t new, but Pokémon Go is so popular because it’s fun and it’s getting people to exercise without realising it.

It rapidly overtook Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp in terms of usage minutes each day and could be the killer app for fitness tracking: Jawbone UP users were logging 62 per cent more step activity in the weeks after its launch.

Meanwhile, operators were quick to recognise the power of the game: Virgin Active started offering 5k Pokémon Go runs, while Pure Gym launched Pokémon Go-themed master classes.

So what next? Which fitness brand will be the first to buy ‘lures’ to fill their locations with Pokémon monsters for players to catch? Will fitness brands be advertising their array of Pokémon? Brands will need to consider if there will be a centralised effort to use the app across sports and leisure centres, outdoor pitches, indoor studios.

One thing is for sure: Poke-fever drains the phone battery quickly with the GPS activity, so could fitness sites offer secure fast-charging stations too?

But beware: gamers are notoriously fickle and other developers are piling in, so fitness brands must be aware this is a rapidly changing scene. Don’t put all eggs in the one Pokémon Go basket.

Nevertheless, augmented reality (AR) is here to stay, and this sort of approach – using AR to ‘augment’ your experience, VR to immerse you into a ‘virtual’ environment, or MR to ‘mix’ reality – will certainly impact the UK’s £4.4bn fitness business going forward. With Sky announcing its launch of AR-TV, there’s more opportunity coming to offer clients enhanced experiences. Can’t wait.


Social interaction: Hundreds of Pokémon Go players met up at Millennium Park in Chicago, US, this summer Credit: Steve Hamann / Shutterstock.com
Pokémon Go: People are exercising without realising it Credit: Stoyan Yotov / Shutterstock.com
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2016 issue 9

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Leisure Management - Ready, steady, GO!

Gamification

Ready, steady, GO!


Pokémon Go got people off the sofa and walking – for fun. So what can fitness providers learn from this success? Kate Cracknell reports

Kate Cracknell
Pokémon Go
Social interaction: Hundreds of Pokémon Go players met up at Millennium Park in Chicago, US, this summer Steve Hamann / Shutterstock.com
Pokémon Go: People are exercising without realising it Stoyan Yotov / Shutterstock.com

Some have been hailing it a cure for obesity. Others are being more pragmatic, acknowledging it as a fun trend – albeit one that is, at least until the novelty wears off, getting sedentary people off the sofa in their droves.

But however you view it, Pokémon Go has certainly dominated the headlines since it launched at the beginning of July. And deservedly so: I only have to glance out of my window, at pretty much any time of the day and well past sunset, to see people of all ages – from kids to teens in hoodies to older folks (with no kids in sight to use as an excuse) – playing the game… and having fun while walking.

The debate has already been rumbling about how long-term the appeal of Pokémon Go might be – how sustainable its boost to activity levels, and how significant its impact on public health. So rather than repeat those discussions, we’ve asked the experts a question we believe to be far more important for the fitness and activity sector in the long run: What can we learn from the huge success of Pokémon Go?



An Coppens Chief game changer Gamification Nation

 

An Coppens
 

To understand what lessons gyms can take from Pokémon Go, we first have to ask: why does it work?

One key is that it hooks you from the word go: it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll catch a Pokémon in the first moments of gameplay, and these opportunities arise frequently in the first few days. This keeps people engaged and wanting to catch more, because it seemed easy. What quick wins can gyms focus on with new members?

To progress any further in the game, you need to visit PokeStops – ammunition stops – and you have to physically walk there. People are motivated to travel the distances to see what happens – but exercise is the by-product of the game, not the end in itself. This is another important learning for fitness providers.

Walking distances are also rewarded with medals, and that feelgood buzz of achievement, combined with the endorphins from physical exercise, is a winning formula.

Because of its popularity, players also experience a sense of belonging even before they join teams: players are easily recognisable as most will be walking around staring at their smartphones! Gyms need to create this sense of ‘club’.

Added positive buzz comes from finding Pokémon and catching them, which isn’t a guarantee. The combination of curiosity and achievement are what in the gamification world we call ‘white hat motivators’; the scarcity and fear of missing out on Pokémon is a ‘black hat motivator’. Think of it as ‘toward’ motivation and ‘away from’ motivation. Fitness almost always focuses on ‘toward’ motivation – perhaps it’s time to exploit the fear of missing out?

The thing that keeps Pokémon Go users interested is the element of surprise and delight when a new Pokémon is won, a bit of competition to keep a Pokegym under their ownership, and the friendship of others using the application – all great learnings for gyms, which need to add creativity and gamification to their offer. This sort of technology is here to stay, and gyms should join in the fun.


"It’s almost guaranteed you’ll catch a Pokémon in the first moments of gameplay. This engages people because it seemed easy. So what quick wins can gyms focus on with new members?" - An Coppens



Dr William Bird CEO Intelligent Health

 

Dr William Bird
 

Since its launch, Pokémon Go has inspired millions of players to go outside and get active in a way that traditional health campaigns have not. We’re therefore likely to see many organisations and campaigns attempt to emulate the success of Pokémon Go.

For health and fitness providers, the key lesson to take away from the success of Pokémon Go is that, if done well, games and fun, free initiatives can help break down the perceived barriers to becoming active.

The potential of using games to promote physical activity can be demonstrated through Intelligent Health’s award-winning Beat the Street scheme (see HCM Aug 16, p10), which transforms a town into a real life game that the whole community is invited to play. With more than 450,000 players of all ages to date, the game reaches a wide demographic including the most inactive, older and elderly people, and those from hard to reach communities.

Beat the Street also transforms the health of those who have taken part: in 2015, one in every seven adults said they were inactive at the start of the game – but by the end, 78 per cent of these people said they had become more active. With evidence of sustained change over six to eight months, Beat the Street has proved that gamification can have a positive long-term effect on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

I’m incredibly excited to see if Pokémon Go can keep its players active and exploring outdoors in the coming months, as well as its larger impact on health and fitness providers. The game has helped break down the barriers to physical activity for millions of people; hopefully organisations can learn from Pokémon Go’s success and do the same for people in their local areas.




David Minton Director The Leisure Database Company

 

David Minton
 

Gamifying fitness isn’t new, but Pokémon Go is so popular because it’s fun and it’s getting people to exercise without realising it.

It rapidly overtook Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp in terms of usage minutes each day and could be the killer app for fitness tracking: Jawbone UP users were logging 62 per cent more step activity in the weeks after its launch.

Meanwhile, operators were quick to recognise the power of the game: Virgin Active started offering 5k Pokémon Go runs, while Pure Gym launched Pokémon Go-themed master classes.

So what next? Which fitness brand will be the first to buy ‘lures’ to fill their locations with Pokémon monsters for players to catch? Will fitness brands be advertising their array of Pokémon? Brands will need to consider if there will be a centralised effort to use the app across sports and leisure centres, outdoor pitches, indoor studios.

One thing is for sure: Poke-fever drains the phone battery quickly with the GPS activity, so could fitness sites offer secure fast-charging stations too?

But beware: gamers are notoriously fickle and other developers are piling in, so fitness brands must be aware this is a rapidly changing scene. Don’t put all eggs in the one Pokémon Go basket.

Nevertheless, augmented reality (AR) is here to stay, and this sort of approach – using AR to ‘augment’ your experience, VR to immerse you into a ‘virtual’ environment, or MR to ‘mix’ reality – will certainly impact the UK’s £4.4bn fitness business going forward. With Sky announcing its launch of AR-TV, there’s more opportunity coming to offer clients enhanced experiences. Can’t wait.



Originally published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 9

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd