The healthgame that never was: using gamification to shorten the gap between generations

A couple of years ago i participated to a contest called ‘5 voor 13’ that gave people the challenge to find through use of new technology solutions for healthcare problems. It was organized C-Mine Genk, an innovation laboratory in the old coalmines of the Flemish region of Limburg. I got selected as one of the finalist for my solution for a solution for the intergenerational gab, commonly known as the kids that don’t visit grandma anymore because she is to old…

For my solution I started by looking at the obvious part: intergenerational contact is good for the health of the elderly and also good for the development of the kids on multiple levels. So what was missing is a tool that brought them together.

I grew up in a rather unconventional setting for people of my generation and later (90s kids like the internet would say) My parents and i shared the house with an elderly woman that wasn’t my grandmother but the godmother of my dad. She was rather cultivated woman with brought knowledge about geography, literature and history. She helped me out on my schoolwork and we shared our interest in reading the news. When she started having difficulties to move out of the house, I helped her staying young by introducing her to the then new technology called DVD and PS2. We played bowling on the Wii and if she would have stayed around longer, I’m sure she would have used my tablet. In opposite to my grandmother who was visiting us every week, my ‘mémé’ stayed young in her head, and i think it was patly thanks to our dayle exchanges. She would learn me about history and i would learn her about technology.

So when designing my idea i took this story and tried to create the mechanisms that made it work and what was needed to scale up. I found that people where already implementing wii’s in elderly homes to give them exercise. While this is a good idea for them to exercise, the intergenerational part was still missing. So how could we create a game where kids needed to come to the elderly without them having the feeling it was a burden?

Well you know those games on your phone where you need to do repetitive tasks to go up levels to beat new monsters, like 99% of all mechanics of Role Playing Games? Why not extrude those mechanics of training to the elderly. Give them exercises they can do all day to gain skill points. Arm movements will help the Atk stat for example, Balance will help Def stat and so on. The twist is that the kids playing the game will need to go physically to the elderly to get their little guy leveed up. Want to beat a new boss, but you miss some skillpoint, well go to one of the elderly homes where they play the game and go talk with them. Maybe the first time the discussion will be pure mechanical, but when returning a bound will be created between the people and discussions will be about more then only the game. You have to see it as an incentive to bring people together.

After presenting this project i finished third and got 500 euro’s to spend on material for the project. At that time i was even less into the entrepreneurs world and i failed to continue this project.  I still think there are some logics and mechanisms that could be interested to work out. Anybody that is willing to use this is free to do anything with it, as long as he gives me a sign about it. It would be awesome to prototype it.

Activism, social biz cargo bikes, intergenerational care…

…what else have you been involved in over the years Yannick? :slight_smile: You’re carrying quite a toolbox of projects.

I see cowork spaces and hubs going for gaming nights targeted at youth, but it would look even better if they opened up the participants’ age to include older people - maybe less pc and console games and more board games? The latter tend to be more social quicklier. Will keep your thoughts in mind.

A toolbox filled yes :slight_smile:

the reaction give me the idea to share it with some people that i know organize game jams. It could be an interesting theme for them. Will see what comes out.

It was after the discussion with Lotfi and Alkasem about the elderly that this project popped back in my mind. Not everything can be a success story, but at least can be shared to become a learning moment :slight_smile:

Something there…

Interesting story, @Yannick . I play computer games a bit myself, and found myself thinking about how the “intergenerational up-levelling” would work. Would the game need to know your age? And register your grandma’s as a player? And she would “approve” your up-levelling? Gamers have a long tradition of “cheatsheets”, and I can very well see someone logging in as gramdma to get the magic sword. If you (the game designer) fight it, then you get into a mess of identity verification…

I wonder if anyone has tried to design games where the gameplay itself favour intergenerational teams. Imagine a detective game where you’d need to be familiar with both youth-friendly and older generation-friendly cultural references. These can be quite badass: my mother’s slightly older cousins, who lived through WW2 at the age of about 10, could tell the weapon from the sound of gunfire, or whether an aircraft was doing reconnaisance or likely to bomb their asses based on the engine’s whine.

I would have no idea ho to make it interesting to the young kids, though…