Life’s a Game: How Game Mechanics Fuel Nikes Fuelbands

Your alarm goes off – do you hit snooze first or do you get up and make some coffee? Do you then hit the shower or do you read the paper first and have some breakfast? Do you take the Bakerloo, Circle then Northern line or go on the Central, Piccadilly and then Northern Line?

Like life: The game with no written rules

Without realising it life is a game, we make choices; we earn points through minutes gained and then spend those earned on our life improving experiences. There are rules, we can sometimes bend or even break a few to get ahead in life.  How many of us can honestly say we haven’t left work early to get home to our families or out with our friends? But how conscious are we of these choices, do we even realise or even make deliberate choices to be better in our decisions or do we fall back on our default settings?

Recently, like a few of my friends and colleagues I’ve purchased a Nike+ FuelBand. This is an accelerometer that records your movements by counting your steps and potential calorie burn. As a device it isn’t that new or exciting but the Nike bods have added some software to turn the data the device captures into a social game.

Nike+ FuelBand

So whilst the Nike+ FuelBand like most other devices on the market tells you how much “exercise” you have accomplished for a given period they have extended the experience by awarding you points, prizes and leader boards so you can see how you perform against your friends.  It also captures your data over time and you can set yourself daily goals on the Nike Fuel points (Nikes activity currency). Like most companies today, Nike have realised that they need this to work through social media so Facebook or Twitter logins are both available – thus providing both your crowd and a marketing platform to recruit new gamers.

So how has this changed my life? Do I play the game differently? Straight off I’m in competition not only to improve myself but importantly the social element kicked in with my colleagues, friends and my wife. Actually I had to go back to the store and buy another one. I figured it was just a boy toy and this wouldn’t be of interest to my wife but within five minutes of showing it off I knew Nike had another sale.  So I have my crowd to encourage my efforts and yes the leader board works although I’m sure Nike will add micro-leader boards as more friends join and you need to break them out into groups.

Sample Nike+ FuelBand Awards

With that comes the friendly abuse and jibes from my crowd – so the peer pride pressure does keep you motivated. I have to say the personal competition at home has been key to me, although I never expected it to be used against me to take out the trash, as I “needed to earn more Fuel points”! Then there is the synchronisation time – when do you reveal to your crowd your Nike Fuel points? Constantly updating to inspire or like poker, at the end of the day to see who has won? As you set goals and achieve them you receive awards from a dancing avatar through the software itself as you hit targets, complete winning streaks, have your best ever day etc. etc. You can post and share your successes but this soon turns to fixing you on more ambitious goals as your crowd soon know how many points it takes to impress them. Setting my goals has been really good, as I now walk to work instead of taking the tube. Getting home and being short of my daily total encourages me to take a walk or even go to the gym.

So now I’m seeing more of “The Game” in my life and I’m playing to win – to be healthier and more active. Do I really need the Nike Fuel Band? No. Does it make it more fun? Yes. And really life it about having fun, being connected and making you think to change you default bad habits into good ones. If you need a bit more inspiration just see how the Fun Theory team changed peoples habits inside one day in Stockholm and try not to smile – just a little.

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