Socialcise A mobile game focused on community, enhancing the quality of life, and generating quality, real-‐world datasets. Developed by Zach Cowell
Application Description The proposed application, Socialcise, will be a game that utilizes real-‐time user data to set and track goals and unlock “achievements” and “levels” through performing certain tasks. This will immerse the player in a virtualized environment where they can track a variety of real-‐world data and progress set out by their goals. The underlying theme of Socialcise is a unique social networking game that brings in quality data from regions all over the nation as well as enhancing the community through intuitive features. The application will rely heavily on user-‐supplied data. Upon creating an account, the player will be prompted with a brief survey to determine what types of data will be tracked and determine the player’s goals. It will be a wide array of questions but brief enough that they will not hinder the user from using the application in minutes. Some sample questions include: 1. Do you smoke and do you want to quit? 2. Are you looking to lose weight? 3. Do you want to eat healthier? 4. Do you want to run/jog/bike more? 5. Do you want to participate in more sports? Depending on the player’s responses, the game will begin to set up the relevant data to track. For instance, if the player wishes to eat healthier, a series of challenges will unlock to help obtain that goal, such as listing off healthy foods to eat in any given day. The player can check-‐off these foods as they eat them and earn in-‐game rewards for doing so. Each challenge will reward points, and after enough points the player will proceed to the next “level” which contains additional challenges and rewards. The rewards will include a variety of different items. For one, the user will unlock achievements for performing certain tasks on a daily basis. • Example challenge: Do not eat fast food for 7 straight days. Achievement: “I’m Not Lovin’ It” Some achievements will also have multiple tiers by performing the same task for even longer. For performing the above achievement for a month or longer, the user will be rewarded with the anti-‐fast-‐food badge (prototype graphic): Badges can be displayed on the player’s profile so that other individuals can view them. Players can also team up to complete certain tasks together and provide encouragement to one another. In addition, other tasks will require teamwork and cannot be completed on their own; this will encourage players to work together to unlock exclusive team rewards (e.g., go for a group jog/bike ride).
The purpose of the “levels” in the game are to show a sense of achievement and help guide the player to a healthier lifestyle. Through input from the community, the users can then deem what levels may be necessary for completing challenging feats. For instance, players can recommend to other players that a certain level in exercise may be required to build enough stamina to compete in a 5K run. An exchange of health information in the community will continue to refine these suggestions. The early focus of the application health categories will be areas where users will have the most potential to make a life change. These categories will include exercising more, eating healthy (with some opportunity to learn to cook healthy dishes), quitting smoking/smoking less, and drinking less alcohol. These categories will also have direct influence over meta goals; for instance, exercising often and eating healthy can help obtain goals that players set to lose weight. Once these primary objectives are set and standardized, the application will begin to branch out to capture other objectives that some players could benefit from, such as managing diabetes or mental illnesses/disorders such as ADHD. Each player will also have a “stat page” which will show relevant statistics to their goals. These statistics will be dependent on what categories that the user opted for (e.g., a player who has a weight loss goal will see their weight in the stat page that can update it accordingly). When a user updates a stat, they can track their progress in real-‐time through various visualization features, such as a line graph tracking their daily weight entered. Only the relevant stats will be exposed based on the player’s preferences; for example, a user who has never smoked and doesn’t plan on smoking would not see a daily account of how many cigarettes they smoked vs. a user who does smoke and is trying to quit (and would benefit from seeing their daily estimated smoking habits). Social Networking The application will have significant social networking interaction. In addition to being able to join other players in achieving their real life goals, there will be integration with Facebook and Twitter. Players will be able to login with Facebook (which will be the recommended login option) in order sync data, such as profile picture and age information. Players can post their achievements and progress on their Facebook and Twitter accounts to gain support from their friends and family, and perhaps be able to expose Socialcise to gain additional users. Within the game itself, players will be encouraged to engage one another for team based rewards and point-‐gain. If the users participate in team-‐based activities, they will gain additional point incentives to encourage teamwork and group play. While it is possible for players to have a fulfilling experience playing with limited social interaction, it is recommended that the players interact with one another to get the most out of the application.
• Players performing some sort of exercise in counties where there is high physical inactivity Once the data is gathered and stored on the server, the data can be visualized and displayed using a third-‐party charting library. See the Application Architecture section for more info on how this data will be output. In addition to generating quality data across many different health categories, the team behind Socialcise will strive to make the data available to the general public, including third-‐parties who wish to improve healthcare in some way. Once enough data is available and a proper privacy statement is agreed upon by the end-‐user, the data can be accessed through RESTful web-‐services via a simple to use API. Until there is enough interest in the application to warrant the development of the API, the team behind Socialcise will provide the data through a written request in the interim. The number one priority for data distribution is protecting the rights and privacy of the end users, and once a general agreement can be reached, the data can be provided to third-‐parties. Target Users Socialcise is an application that will target a wide array of users that wish to live a healthy lifestyle. The user experience will be simple enough to appeal to all audiences without sacrificing a robust feature set. Those who would benefit most from the application would be young adults and adults who wish to increase their healthy habits. However, the platform will be set up such that the younger players can play the game and compete to encourage healthy habits at a young age in a fun manner. The user experience will be designed to get the user up and running in a relatively short amount of time. After the user has created an account and answered the introductory questions, the user will begin to navigate through relevant challenges to participate in and get started from day one. Marketing Plan Socialcise will be a service that will launch on or before the Robert Wood Johnson: Games to Generate Data Challenge Phase 2 submission deadline on July 29, 2013. The team behind Socialcise plans on spending time marketing the service on several different fronts. For one, a portion of the Phase 1 prize money will be allotted for advertisements through Facebook and Google AdWords. In addition to targeting a wide variety of demographics, the team plans to reach out to various technology focused news sites (specifically, mobile) with the application in hopes of getting the word out. The team will also reach out to health sites and blogs in hopes of being featured.
As the team is based in Washington, D.C., the team will spend time reaching out to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to spend a little bit of time talking about the application. In addition to reaching out to these organizations, the team is enthusiastic about working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for recognizing a robust gaming application that generates rich sets of data in an intuitive manner and creates a fun environment for the user. Team Profile Zach Cowell is a software engineer with a B.S. in Computer Science from West Virginia University. He has been employed in the health industry as well as government consulting and contracting. He is currently employed as a consultant who specializes in designing and implementing web based enterprise solutions for various clients, including the Department of Defense and various health markets. Zach Cowell also has a passion for game design using mobile applications. He has experience using cross-‐platform development technologies including Corona SDK and PhoneGap. He especially enjoys creating applications utilizing web technologies on mobile platforms. Business Model Socialcise will be a free service for all to use with no premium service offering. At the time when Socialcise has a steady user-‐base, we are prepared to possibly introduce unobtrusive advertisements into the application to possibly help offset operating costs. However, even after advertisements are introduced, all of the features will be available to the players without any cost to them. Further, once the user-‐base has expanded and the application at a steady, secure, and optimized codebase, the team pledges to release the source code for the entire project so that other developers can benefit from the technologies created in Socialcise. A particular open-‐source license has not be determined at this time, but one will be chosen that most appropriately protects the team behind Socialcise and the third-‐parties that obtain the technology.