City Fitness Program

The Problem to solve

The mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest would like to improve the health of city employees. The city has 50,000 employees and they happen to have exactly the same rates of obesity as the U.S. average: 34.4% overweight (but not obese) and 33.9% of them are obese. 53.1% of the city’s employees do not meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity and 76% of them fail to meet the Guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity. The city pays for health benefits for its employees and this cost is a huge part of the city budget. Economists in Mayors office have estimated that a 3% improvement in the average physical fitness of city employees would amount to a US$94 million reduction in annual city health costs; a 5% improvement would save US$188 million.

Describe in general terms a system that could effectively motivate behavior change to address the challenge presented above. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both.

UX Using gamification as a solution:

  • The UX Objective– saving 188$ mil per year in health care cost incurred due to obesity related issues
  • Target behaviors changes– eat healthy foods, get educated about health issues
  • Players/users– overweight government employees with poor fitness standards.
  • Activity loops- engagement loops and progression loops
  • Illicit motivation using-   Primarily Serious Fun and Hard fun, accomplished through use of ‘social fun’
  • Primary Tools- awards and punishment based system
  • User Interface – smartphone / computer app for users, Back end interface for the mayor’s office.

The overview

  1. We can use gamifiction to set up a system of rewards and punishment. This system will be based on an app used both on smartphones and PCs . The external motivators used will be peer pressure, level ups and segmented competitions between government departments.
  2. The intrinsic motivators will be better health education, support structures and authority states.
  3. The program will be linked to a cheaper insurance plan as it is a health promotion and maintenance program. (this will save X money for the city)
  4. The program will be a pre-opted in system where employees would have to go through a long process of paper work if they wish to opt out of this process.
  5. If employees undertake a healthier lifestyle and are graded on it per day (fast feedback loop), the top 3 players at the end of every month will receive some sort of reward like gift cards, gift basket, membership to xyz club, free food/drinks at abc hotel etc.
  6. They become ‘Influencers’ and the ‘achievers’ used to insight motivation in others and the money required for such gifts, etc will be taken from the money (a much smaller chunk) which was saved on the insurance.
  7. If and when employees in the program skip days or eat unhealthy food they lose more points than those gained by eating the healthy counterpart.
  8. Various divisions will have inter-division competitions too, such as, ‘city-works division’ vs ‘healthcare division’
  9. This data is circulated across the board every week so everyone can see who isn’t complying with the system (peer pressure along with poor score for that whole division in the ‘inter-division’ competition).
  10. The top players can volunteer to help weaker players and get more points and perks in doing so. These are the socializers from bartles MMOG player type model. This starts a trend which creates Incentive for employees to help each others.


The System

A gamified system which is based on rewards and penalties

The outline of my proposed gamified system will be one based on rewards and penalties. Rewards and penalties here are based on 3 factors which are- eating habits, exercise, and weight lost. All of this data is tracked using applications which can be installed and synced on the PC and on a phone. 


  1. Every employee is opted into this system by-default as a healthier lifestyle that leads away from junk foods is beneficial to all people and not just those who are overweight.
  2. Eating habits are tracked via an app on the PC or on the phone in which you have the basic 3 main sections or tabs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Along with 2 smaller sections for snacks/ junk food.
  3. In each of these sections you are given a list of multiple healthy food items which are linked to the meal time question; from which you are required to make your selections (eggs, pancakes etc. for breakfast)(a hefty whole grain fish sandwich for lunch)(Chinese chicken soup for dinner).
  4. At the end of this input which should take no less than a few minutes, you are shown the amount of calories you are about to consume throughout the day along with how much should be consumed.
  5. At the end of the day the app will ask you if you have eaten only what you have promised in the morning, this gets auto posted in social media.


The system’s Relationship to employee motivation (How it will be applied within the city’s employees)


  1. Every city employee is supposed to be opted into the system and needs to follow a procedure to opt out of it. (principle of behaviorism)
  1. Employees who undertake a healthier lifestyle are graded on it per day, motivation here is created via fast feedback loops.
  2. Each player will level up as they make healthier choices which in itself is intrinsicaly motivating.
  3. The top 3 players at the end of every month will receive some sort of unexpected reward (6.4) like gift cards, gift basket, 1 month membership to xyz club, free food/drinks at abc pub, etc. They will become Influencers (7.2) and the achievers (7.3) who will make other employees want to adhere to this system.
  4. If people in the program skip days or eat unhealthy food they lose more points than they would have gained by eating the healthy counterpart. (Behaviorism says people fear losses much more than they appreciate gains.)
  5. This data is then circulated across all departments of city employees every week so everyone can see who is and who isn’t complying with the system (peer recognition along with poor score on the leader board are motivators)
  6. The players can volunteer to help other players and get more points and perks in doing so. (These are the socializers from Bartle’s MMOG player type model – this step creates an Incentive to help others)
  7. For this system to work well as an internal gamification system, we should divide it on the basis of departments, for example- Employees handling the city’s electric grid in one team, and employees in social services in another.
  8. Employees here will feel the fun and team spirit as their intrinsic motivators to help them out match the other team.
  9. Annual inter-department game in which teams fight to outrank each other by having a better overall average in health ranking through out the year. The winning team gets a real tangible prize of value and a trophy.
  10. The best part is that there are no real losers, all teams compete to get healthy and win the trophy for the sake of their team’s pride. The winning team will also get media coverage from a big media name. This will provide a social status boost for the winning department. (Mayor Ryan Morrison will get more votes)
  11. ALL ‘WIN STATES’ ARE PRIMARILY BASED ON THE PERCENTAGE OF CHANGE IN THE FACTORS FROM WHEN THE INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEES FIRST STARTED THE GAME – this provides a level playing field for every city employee regardless of the how healthy or unhealthy they first were at the start of the gamified system. (thus no-one can complain about an ‘uneven playing field’)
  12. Example- Player A(280 kg) who achieved 10% weight loss is better than Player B(200 kg) who achieved 6% weight loss

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