Background: I am a lifelong gamer who has struggled with obesity, depression, and poor self image throughout my adolescence and adult life. Over the past several months I have lost about 50 lbs by relearning the fundamentals of what it takes to meet my physical and emotional needs. Namely, what food to eat, having the confidence to socialize with people, and realizing my own personal value. I realized that the reason I love video games so much was that it made me happy to achieve goals, a concept echoed in Jane's book. But I've realized the key to happiness does not lie in video games alone, but on the achievement of REAL goals with tangible value, such as being healthy and making lasting friendships.
My idea: Drawing on my experience as an obese and chronically depressed gamer, I have developed a strategic plan that would help people like me dramatically improve their physical and emotional health. I was originally thinking about writing a book, but given my target audience is people who play games, I wanted to gamify the experience on some level. My original idea was that people who followed the plan from my eventual book might come together in a social networking context and share their progress. They could earn personal and group achievements for their efforts and share their successes one another as well as develop new friendships with people who share their passion for gaming and also their new interest and commitment to personal health and growth.
It is my belief that much of the standard american diet results in people eating intentionally addicting and health-deprecating products habitually which throws them into a continuous loop of eating unhealthy food, buying products to try to improve their health and failing, developing a low self image as a result of their weak willed behavior toward food and their obesity, becoming depressed, and making more unhealthy choices to deal with their depression such as gaming addiction and alcoholism.
One real world example: Monosodium glutamate and high fructose corn syrup are present in a huge number of food products, and these additives are designed to make food addictive. They have the unpleasant side effect of directly promoting obesity. Millions of american people have become addicted to these foods, eat them in preference of others, and as a result become obese. They are also more likely to resist changing to healthy eating choices because they derive so much pleasure from the foods that they are eating that it is akin to giving up a drug. Also they can't break the addiction because eating is something they have to do every day - it's not like they can give up eating altogether, so whats the use?
I have pages of notes as my ideas have evolved over the past week or two. The current iteration of the game idea is like this:
One fictional malevolent supercorporation is responsible for everything above and a whole lot more. We would create a website and facebook page and twitter feed etc for this corporation. Maybe even fake facebook or website ads for added realism. The company produces food, cigarettes and alcohol, tv, video games, they make the weight loss products, they are involved in every step of the cycle, exploiting us and profiting from our disease. But there's hope - a resistance movement dedicated to spreading the word about what the company is doing and what their goals are. The resistance is fighting back - but they need our help!
Players will hear about the movement through social media, and will have the opportunity to join a social network (that we create) where they can join. After joining, they can form groups and track the resistance's efforts through the use of apps like MyFitnessPal (that tracks weight loss and food choices) and nike fuel plus (tracks activity). There could even be a mobile game that allows people to take direct (simulated) action against the corporation via covert operations - see the fantastic Coderunner game from Rocket Chicken as proof of concept here - which apart from being wickedly fun, would have the added benefit of making players more physically active as they have to go out into the real world and perform spy missions and run from hostile agents.
Individual and group achievements for weight loss and recruiting people would also be part of the social network.
The most elegant part is this will resonate with people because it's really happening. The only thing that's false is only one corporation being responsible. All it would take is good information and some personal responsibility to break the cycle - and if you break the cycle in the game, congratulations. You've just conquered obesity for real.
I have tons more notes and plan to continue to organize and flesh out my plan but it's becoming clear to me that I can't do this on my own. I'm looking for established game designers, social media wizards, and business people to help bring my idea to life.
Anyone want to join the Resistance???