I have been invited to play a game on Facebook called Battle of the Bulge. No, this is not some WWII adventure game. It is a game where I try to keep extra weight off my waistline. Ah, sort of like real life.
I started out by answering a few humorously posed questions about my eating and exercise habits and my body type. From there, I was presented with a slightly overweight Avatar (aka “the Bellytar™”) whose weight I must now manage by making good choices when presented with diet and exercise options. To make it more fun, I can share some of my losses and gains with my Facebook friends who are also playing the game. And if I am really successful, I can end up on the “Champions of Chunk” page were I am ranked with other top players based on the number of days that I have been able to maintain my ideal weight. Right now the leader has a string of 99 days going and a very buff looking Bellytar. I’m jealous.
So who is behind this slightly addictive and educational Facebook application? It is actually the Louisville, Kentucky – based health care company, Humana, Inc., though there is no mention of the company on the game app.
Greg Matthews, director of consumer innovations at Humana says, “2009 is the year of the game.” The consumer innovations team is working on ways to use social media to get people more engaged in leading healthier lives.
“What we are attempting to do,” Greg said, “ is change people’s behavior by taking something that they are already having fun doing, like playing with Friends on Facebook, and making it more healthy.”
Battle of the Bulge, which launched to the public just before Christmas, already has over 700 players ranging from Microsoft employees to Major League Soccer players.
Greg explained that the Battle of the Bulge game on Facebook is part of an ongoing exploration process the Humana innovations team has undertaken to discover the best ways to use evolving forms of media to engage an increasingly web-savvy public.
So, after playing the game a few times over the last couple of days, I have drawn a few conclusions that seem to also apply to real life.
- Getting to my ideal body weight is not going to be easy. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I hit a roadblock by making a poor choice.
- Getting to my ideal weight is dependent on several factors including diet, exercise, and even the behavior of my friends.
- Once I reach my ideal weight it will take dedication and consistency to stay there. The good news is that I should have figured out the correct answers to all the questions by then, so it will mainly mean that I need to hit the site application once a day (like a gym) to stay where I need to be. But watch out! I am sure that missing a few days will have consequences.
Well, if I am any indication, this stuff can be effective. Now if you will excuse me, I need to shed a few more pounds. Humm… can any one tell which burns more calories: A) planting begonias or 2) polishing my phatmobile with a diaper. Ahgg… I don’t feel much like doing either one. Do I smell pizza?