One of my big goals this year is to eat better and exercise more, making the kinds of lifestyle changes that, I hope, will help me feel stronger and more energetic. More vegies, less sitting, that kind of thing.
A couple days ago, I logged back into Jane McGonigal’s Super Better health game where you identify your epic win and then work towards it one activity, power up, and quest at a time. McGonigal has partnered with other organizations so some of the content comes from third parties. For instance, those interested in weight loss are connected to the free resources provided by the Full Plate diet. I took the time to set up my account and started logging some points and achievements. It was fun to drink a glass of water and then, rather than just recording it in a database, being rewarded with a few points. For 48 hours, I felt successful and was having fun making changes that had been real challenges for many years.
Here’s Jane talking about the genesis of the game in her own illness:
Then, the game went down. I couldn’t get in on my iPad and the website wouldn’t load on the laptop. WHAT? I had completed at least a few things that would get me some points. I wanted to remind myself what else I should be doing. Mostly, I just needed those few minutes of game play to focus my attention on my goal. And I wasn’t sure I could really do this without the game; goodness knows I had tried often enough. The game was going to be the edge that helped me succeed this time. Nothing in the game is a surprise: eat better, move around, think positive thoughts. It’s just that the game both reminded me and made it fun to do those things. Now, it was gone.
I’m happy to say it wasn’t gone for long, but I was a little surprised at my visceral reaction when it didn’t load, as though I had lost a really valuable tool!
The ephemeral nature of the web can be frustrating. This week, as I proofread a colleague’s dissertation, I longed for the return of CiteRefs, an online tool that checked citations and references for both format and correctness. It’s painful to do it manually, and CiteRefs was an elegant solution. I used it extensively in my own doctoral work. It has, sadly, disappeared, perhaps killed off by support costs, changing software or just time.