When technology is the healthy option
This week, McCann Truth Central released our latest study, “The Truth About Wellness”. The study consists of a survey of 7,000 respondents in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Japan, South Africa and Turkey, supplemented by consumer workshops and expert interviews in Peru, Thailand, India, Mexico, and Brazil.
The study focuses on the complex, oftentimes contradictory perceptions that consumers have of the relationship between brands, technology, and wellness. There is no doubt that technology will play an expansive role in the future of wellness, and games are becoming transformative in that pursuit.
Humanity Vs Technology
Unsurprisingly, at a time of rapid technological change there is concern about technology’s impact on our wellness. 54% of our global respondents believe technology will ultimately make us well, although 46% think it will only make us sicker.
This split in popular opinion underscores the view that as technology becomes more sophisticated and ubiquitous, we may lose something fundamental to our humanity, be that our privacy, our ability to have real conversations, or even the power of touch.
When science fiction becomes a reality
But, many welcome a future where technology and science make extraordinary things possible. 32% would remain the same age forever, 26% would erase unpleasant memories and 18% would implant a microchip to constantly measure health.
Already, many use simpler technologies to attain wellness goals. Take the popularity of casual games, from Words with Friends to Tetris. 47% of our British respondents regularly play brain games to thwart diseases like Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, companies from Nike to Weight Watchers have noticed and are utilizing game-like elements such as points, badges, and leader boards to encourage wellness practices.
Yet, participants in a London co-creation workshop suggested that companies were to take consumers’ wellness seriously, they ought to go further, starting with colour-coded packaged foods for easy recognition of the nutrients the food provides.
This is where the imaginative capacity of video game designers, like science fiction writers before them, is perchance prophetic. Colour-coded standards for consumables have been reflected in the fantastic world of the Legend of Zelda video games since 1992.
While Zelda may not be the first time that colour-coded consumables appear in imagined worlds, it predates government efforts as well as the CPG industry’s willingness. At present, nutritional wellness for a player in the Legend of Zelda is simpler than for a citizen of the EU.
Video games end gun wars?
Fortunately, unlike game avatars, many of us have not been a witness (much less a victim) to a shooting although we have all seen such images. The iconic video game Halo set in the year 2552 features a product that could ironically bring an end to such scenes in both life and fiction.
Injected under the surface of the skin, ‘Biofoam’ is a self-sealing, antibacterial, tissue-regenerative polymer that keeps damaged organs in place and stops bleeding. The utility of this product could extend beyond the violence of the world of Halo and could spell the end of the A&E as we know it.
Pure science fiction? This was probably what earlier generations thought of Star Trek’s food replicator but behold the fact that a human jawbone was generated from a 3D printer in 2012. Of course, one would hope that by the year 2552, we might have brought an end to the warring activities of the Halo world.
The beauty of technology
Returning to 2013, brands are re-imagining the role of gaming technology in the Age of Wellness. When L’Oreal launched an app for Xbox 360 they focused on the human side of health and beauty. ‘Players’ can customize their experience and receive tailored health and beauty recommendations as well as unique how-to video tutorials.
“With more content and women on Xbox LIVE than ever before, we see this as a tremendous opportunity for L’Oreal USA. We wanted to connect with this rapidly growing audience and combine their passion for entertainment and beauty into one seamless personalized experience,” said Esohe Omoruyi, VP Digital Marketing L’Oreal USA.
The future of wellness is fun and games
Ultimately, video games, like all expressive culture, are in conversation with the issues of our time: whether the approach a game takes is to offer a playful escape from the dull monotony of reality or to provide a tool for greater physical fitness.
Innovative brands in the Age of Wellness can harness this potential whether by adopting game-like mechanics for consumer engagement, partnering with game designers to develop game opportunities, or simply becoming part of the gaming universe.
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