i’m no longer trying to superbetter me.
unfortunately, i’ve abandoned superbetter, the health game for making small, subtle health changes as well as managing larger, more complicated health conditions.
as those who read the first two posts on what was to be a six-part series know, i delighted in superbetter’s design and lingo. superbetter’s website is vibrant and energizing. it’s language celebrates our unrecognized power in affecting our health and is fun, creative and mysterious. my delight waned, however, as i struggled with a time-consuming setup, whose intention might escape those less familiar with behavior change.
i found myself overwhelmed by the seven steps (missions) necessary to officially begin and deflated once i completed them and realized i didn’t know what now? i had no idea what to do next on the site. i knew my “epic win” (health goal): to attend an organized exercise class on a weekly basis. i had my “ally” (my husband rob), i fingered the “bad guys” (those things that could trip me up), i listed my “power ups” (my sources of inspiration). what i didn’t know was what to do next—besides go to my classes.
good design anticipates user failure like my confusion. it also anticipates more routine user failure: erratic use. the game itself should hold one’s interest. that’s part of the promise of games for health. and that could explain the lack of communication from superbetter when i went AWOL in december. if you judge the game compelling, you won’t build more mundane retention methods into your system.
in my case, that belief backfired. i would’ve benefited from touchpoints that kept me connected, particularly in the beginning when habits hadn’t formed. my ally rob also received no guidance, which made it difficult for him to know how to play his costar role. i receive weekly emails from fitbit and daily ones from meyou health’s daily challenge—to name two products i use that build regular communication into the experience.
superbetter has lots going for it. we need more energetic, creative and yes, whimsical ways to encourage people to change their health habits or to help them withstand grueling recovery sessions. why have dense, crunchy, scolding grape nuts if you could have a donut?
but superbetter needs to work out the kinks. it can’t rely solely on a fetching website to do all the heavy lifting in terms of engagement and retention. superbetter seems to know this. they emailed all early users to let us know that the next version of superbetter is coming. i’m hoping for better.