When I speak to groups about gamification, I often take a minute to brag about my 83-year-old mom. Over the past 15 years she has had countless (yes, they literally stopped counting) bones broken when she was struck by a car, she has had numerous surgeries from that accident. Then she broke a hip some years later, and then she was hospitalized one more time for dehydration and some other stuff. Despite all of that, and having to learn to walk again several times as a result of the previously mentioned incidents, she asked about a year ago if she too could get a Fitbit tracker like my husband and I had. So, while her goals may be much more modest than most people with fitness trackers, she is the poster child for what can happen when you make progress visible.
The chart above is from her Fitbit dashboard. Her goal at that time was to walk 3,000 steps a day. She has increased her goal over time since she wanted to do this to increase her stamina and because she is really competitive with herself. Before the tracker, like many of us, she could come up with excuses for why she couldn't go out for a walk, despite the fact that she knew she needed to in order to lessen the stiffness and soreness that plague her legs. But it's cold. But it's hot. It's raining. I'm tired. I forgot. I'm sure you could fill in a few more from personal experience, right? But since she started tracking her walking, she HAS NOT MISSED A SINGLE DAY!!! Once she could see the steps showing up on a screen and could see her progress, the excuses evaporated. And she's not alone.
I've seen this happen, time and time again, not just with fitness tracking, but all sorts of places where progress is made visible. One of my takeaways from almost every session I have ever conducted on gamification, particularly for those in learning professions, has been to find ways to make progress visible. Progress begets progress. Don't believe me. How about the experts.