The tagline used to be, “There’s an app for that.” Now it should be, “There’s a game for that.”
With gamification enmeshing itself with such mundane tasks as cleaning and listening to music, it was only a matter of time until eating was imbued with game design and shipped out as a web-based game.
Foodzy is one of the first web games devoted to healthy eating—and eating in general. Like many gamified activities, Foodzy offers badges for certain eating tasks. Some of these badges involve healthy behaviors, rewarding players for eating sensibly. Others glorify eating excess: the Hangover badge rewards the dubious honor of boozing it up a bit too much.
Foodzy was founded in Amsterdam earlier this year, but it’s already been getting a lot of press coverage. It fills a niche in the food app market: not just food pairings, not just recipes, but an engagement with food, including the social component that’s so prevalent in real-life interactions with food and friends.
Although Foodzy is one of the biggest names in food gamification, they aren’t the only game in town to deal with food and eating habits.
Health Month, recently merged with Contagion to form health startup Habit Labs, is a point-based web game that encourages players to take up healthy habits. The game allows for flexibility in choosing what habits are “healthy” for a given month.
Gameplay for Health Month is straightforward, but players must first customize their rules. Via a complex set of metrics, points are doled out on a daily basis depending on rule compliance. Life points decrease when players fail to follow their rules.
One large category of rules is for nutrition-based habit change. Players can choose to eat no carbs, eat more greens, drink more water, eat less sweets. Thanks to custom rules, they can even devise their own fun, food-based habits: eat a new pizza every week, create a soup every day, don’t eat a bagel three days a week.
Both Foodzy and Health Month add an additional reward to eating beyond the innate value of nutrition or enjoyment. Is it more fun to eat a salad knowing that you’ve scored points on Health Month? Is throwing a Grillparty more fun knowing that it ladders into a Barbecue badge later on?