Regular blood glucose level testing is often a difficult and frustrating routine for young people with diabetes to get into. So, in an attempt to help build good monitoring habits Bayer has created the Didget meter, a glucose-measuring device which connects to various flavours of Nintendo DS and a game called Knock ‘Em Down World’s Fair in which users can redeem points they get for regular diabetes testing to boost performance, unlock mini-games, etc. There’s also a online community element where kids can go and talk about the game and diabetes.
I’m a really, really big fan of this idea. It engages the target audience on their terms and on their platform, turning what had been a chore into a postive experience. But I think it goes beyond that, it also addresses the stigma of illness. Now I’m not a kid with diabetes, but I’m guessing that the association of diabetes testing with the Nintendo DS might just be enough to make diabetes testing cool, or at least remove some of the awkwardness that comes from having to test four times a day. As I remember it, this kind of thing is a pretty big deal for kids trying to fit into what is often a pretty unsympathetic social scene.
I can’t seem to find anything about outcomes, so I can’t say if it’s actually working. And from what I can see, the accompanying game seems relatively uncompelling (though it maybe more appealing to the target audience). This is probably a relatively minor issue, after all, if the platform is in place then it should be relatively simple to develop or mod other more compelling games to work with the rewards system. Pixar, what about a Toy Story version? Think of the positive PR (and what a good way to learn about pervasive gaming).
Anyway, as I’ve mentioned in a couple of recent posts pervasive gaming and game mechanics are going to start turning up in all sorts of places in the next few years. However, Bayer Didget is, to my mind, one of the best and most compelling applications so far.