Alex Goldman is a producer for On the Media. One time he got run over by a car.
The Superbetter Diaries Entry #7: FTW
Friday, November 11, 2011 - 04:41 PM
Six months ago, I was hit by a car while I was riding my bike, and spent months in and out of the hospital and recuperating from incredibly painful surgeries. Six weeks ago, I began using Superbetter, a game designed by game designer and theorist Jane McGonigal, with the express purpose of helping people recover from traumatic injuries and achieve health goals. This weekend, I will wrap up my 6 weeks stint using the game.
Things I learned about Superbetter:
- I fully expected Superbetter to be some kind of muscle training game that would incentivize physical health but totally ignore mental health. I didn't realize it was a social game designed less to fix you (which is smart, because some injuries are simply beyond repair) and more to encourage socialization and creation of reasonable goals and rewards for the future.
- I suppose this is a bit of a no-brainer, but I was shocked at how motivating it was to have other people designing quests for me. The quests I created for myself seemed so pedestrian by comparison. The people who signed on to help me out are amazing and I am forever indebted to them.
- Achievements initially didn't make sense to me, because i was coming to them with a collector's mentality. unlike most of the games I play, where the primary motivation is to blow people up with rocket launchers and stab them in the back of the head, the motivating principle in Superbetter is to maximize encouraging social interaction through gaming.
- The Resilience score, which is sort of the central point system of Superbetter, was difficult for me, because I didn't understand what it was measuring. I mentioned that I thought a system of leveling up would be valuable in making the resilience number more meaningful. It would set benchmarks along your path. Jane mentioned in the comments on Entry #4 that leveling is in the cards for Superbetter in the future.
- OTM producer PJ Vogt is not good at using Superbetter.
- I hate asking for help. In that way, Superbetter has been one of the most difficult things I've ever attempted. It was actually a lot easier for me to recruit listeners to help me play Superbetter than it was for me to play with people who I see every day, because it felt less like asking for help. That's kind of a fascinating feature of the internet age, that I can find a dozen people out in Cyberspace who are willing to be my internet booster club.
- Having played video games for nearly as long as I can remember, and coming to Superbetter with that background, truly helped me orient myself with the mechanics of Superbetter. As we've mentioned before on the show, gaming is creeping into nearly everything we do, so in the future, people without a hardcore gaming background like mine are going to take to this kind of program much more easily than they might at the moment
- I like for games to have a difficulty curve, and to punish you if you're playing poorly or incorrectly. Granted, Superbetter is deliberately open-ended, and that's good; its malleability allows players to tailor the game to their needs and experiences, and that is a huge net positive, but I need it to tell me when I'm doing it wrong.
- While it didn't effect my ability to use Superbetter to improve my health, both mentally and physically, I'm not very good at projecting myself into the role of a superhero. I may be Omar Little in the game, but I still feel like a public radio producer with a bum leg in real life.
- I really, really miss riding my bike.
We will wrap this project up with one more blog post next week and a conversation with creator Jane McGonigal on next week's show, but again, I can't thank my allies enough. Per usual, if anyone has any questions about Superbetter or about my leg, please feel free to let me know.