Coursera – Gamification: Assignment #2

Disclaimer: I only made this post in order to share and discuss what was my solution for a problem on a course I took part in. Please, use common sense and don’t copy this as a work of your own 🙂

Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company that offers free courses via a web platform in partnerships with renowned universities worldwide, such as Princeton, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, California Institute of Technology and University of Edinburgh just to name a few.

The area of interest of some of the offered courses are: Mathematics, Business & Management, Computer Science, Engineering, Social Sciences, Medicine, Information Technology and many others.

Last year I did a Gamification course which started on August 27 (of 2012) and it had a duration of six weeks, and if you completeted the course with a good grade, you’ll earn a certificate issued in your name by Coursera and signed by the instructor, Mr. Kevin Werbach.

Just in case you have no idea what Gamification is, the game designer Jane McGonigal published in July of 2012 a very interesting video TED presentation about how a game can give you another 10 years of life. I highly recommend it.

Now, if you became interested about the course, go to the Coursera page for the Gamification Course where you can look at the Syllabus and information about the instructor. Currently, the date for next session is to be announced.

The activities I had to do in order to “build up” my grade were: Quizzes and Assignments. Below are the proposal for the second Assignment and after that my answer.

What would your answer be to the problem presented below?

Project Part II: Motivation

You are approached by Ryan Morrison, the mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest of the United States.  He has heard that you know a lot about gamification and believes that gamification techniques can transform city government.

He would like to start with the health of city employees.  The city has 50,000 employees and they happen to have exactly the same rates of obesity as the U.S. average: 34.4% overweight (but not obese) and 33.9% of them are obese.  53.1% of the city’s employees do not meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity and 76% of them fail to meet the Guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity.  The city pays for health benefits for its employees and this cost is a huge part of the city budget.  Economists in Mayor Morrison’s office have estimated that a 3% improvement in the average physical fitness of city employees would amount to a US$94 million reduction in annual city health costs; a 5% improvement would save US$188 million.  

Describe in general terms a gamified system that could effectively motivate behavior change to address the challenge presented above. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both. Your answer should address the fact that this is an internal gamification project, targeted at the institutional goals of the city government.  The system can use any technology (or no technology!), so long as the resources required seem justified by the scope of the opportunity.

Format: Maximum of 500 words.  A normal answer will be 2-3 paragraphs of text, and/or a set of bullet points.  Your submission should be self-contained (not requiring the grader to view any outside materials) and should provide sufficient details for the grader to understand the basis for your statements.

My answer: 

My solution revolves around one main goal: have a total of 2.000.000 pounds lost combined by all city employees at the end of one year. On the start of this campaign there would be a series of videos, e-mails and posts with former obese people such as famous actors, athletes as well as doctors raising awareness by the health dangers of overweight and obesity. Not only that but, these ads will also recruit people to take action and join on the challenge to have, within one year, the sum of 2 million pounds lost by all city employees. And to top that, every employee that participates on this campaign, and is proven that him (or her) have lost weight will have a chance to win a cash prize of US$ 5.000,00 each month and a big prize of US$ 40.000 at the end of one year.

In order to join on this campaign, the employees that are interested will have to sign up and participate on a monthly weighing and check-up exam in order to monitor their progress on the campaign as well as to monitor their health.

Regarding social sharing, this campaign will have a web-site / social network where the amount of pounds lost so far and completion of the goal are displayed. As for collective activities, people can share how they are exercizing, update their personal goals, as well as create groups for running, cyling or even scheduling a soccer match with other employees, just to name three physical activities.

The extrinsic motivation aspects would be met by the following aspect:

  • Thrill of the challenge.
  • Chance to enter the lottery to win the cash prizes.
  • Take this opportunity to start playing collective sports (eg. start a weekly football gathering).

The instrisc motivation aspects would be met by the following aspects:

  • Improve the health condition.
  • Participate in physical activities with other people that share the same goal.
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