Gamification in iPhone Fitness Apps

Zombies, Run! Let’s face it, to hit it big in the App Store these days you need something special and fun. Especially, if your app is in a crowded category like fitness and health apps.

While researching unique characteristics that set successful apps apart from the average app, I stumbled upon the topic of gamification. According to Wikipedia, gamification is defined as follows:

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning.

Elements of Gamification

Let’s break down some of the elements of gamification by taking a look at the highly successful app Zombies, Run!

Excitement: Zombies, Run! adds narrative to the otherwise boring task of running. The user gets motivated by the progressing story and wishes to know what will happen next. Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes is fun now!

Rewards: Completing a task, in this case a run, rewards the user with virtual goods and progression on the story line. All the hard work has paid off, you level up and can’t wait for the next mission.

Competition: In a classic running app, the users runs against himself or some time limit. Being chased by a zombie to run faster is a nice change of scenery. Also, running against your friends or competing who unlocks all mission first, can be very motivating.

It’s worth a shot

Of course, applying gamification in iPhone apps is no guarantee for success, but it may well be worth a shot for your next app. If done right, it can lead to more engaged users and thus more revenue for the developer.

Besides the chance to potentially hooking your users up to your app, funny and clever apps with gamification often get free PR, because, well, they are different and an interesting story to write and read about.

Any cool ideas for gamification in otherwise boring apps?

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