Canadian Startup Ayogo Proves Video Games Can Be Educational and Healthy – Yet Still Fun

Conventional wisdom equates video games to fat kids.

It’s a pretty simple leap of logic. Factor in a TV screen, game controller, junk food, carbonated beverages, too many hours, and poof—the stereotypical sedentary fat kid.

While sweeping generalities are folly, there is a grain of truth to the notion as well. Of course, if one substitutes Snakes & Ladders with video games, how different would the outcome be?

Speaking of generalities, it’s also fair suggesting that not all video games are created equal, as the space continues to fragment beyond the console, and the PC. Vancouver’s social, mobile, and indie scene is vibrant, thriving, and growing one. You only have to look at the standing room only crowds that the Full Indie and Vancouver Mobile & Social Games Meetup groups draw.

In many ways Ayogo is cutting against the grain and carving out a most unique place in the gaming community. Associating gaming and good health is almost counterintuitive; gaming and positive behavioral change certainly doesn’t fall into the realm of conventional thinking either.

Jesse Spink is the Creative Director at Ayogo Games and is on a mission to shift this thinking. He’s focusing his creative efforts in the areas of motivational design and the application of game mechanics to digital experiences that create meaningful behavior change. Jesse and the team at Ayogo are helping people change their lives—one fun social game at a time.

Ayogo is busy preparing the soft-launch of their newest game, Monster Manor, at the Children With Diabetes Conference on August 24. This launch will constitute an open beta version of the game available to the public. Monster Manor is a collecting game designed to help children manage their diabetes more effectively by rewarding them for properly tracking their Blood Glucose levels. The system also allows parents to support their children's efforts through the caregiver monitoring tools and child reward widget that are built into the BlueLoop service. Through variable reward and parent support, Monster manor adds fun and reward to a medical regimen which typically is neither.

Finding a focus and the sweet-spot often dictates startup success, and there’s no question Ayogo Games is creating positive partnerships, focusing on healthy and positive patient outcomes. The launch of Monster Manor follows recent projects such as I Jellyfish, a game being developed with USC and The Centre for Body Computing for a study on how games can increase activity levels in children.

The game makes use of disposable biometric sensors that communicate children's activity levels back to the game and rewards them with gameplay. The game is being developed for closed beta release on the Android platform in the fall of 2012.

Ayogo has also been brought into the LiGHT project to improve the overall engagement levels of the service through a redesign of the application, improvement of its usability and strategic application of game mechanics to improve player behaviour outcomes. Living Green Healthy and Thrifty is a web service developed by the Childhood Obesity Foundation that educates children on the virtues and interconnectivity of living a healthier more balanced life. While children are the primary participants, parents play a supporting role and are able to view, evaluate and educate themselves on the facts and strategies there whole family should employ in order to live LiGHT.

Ayogo is focusing on creating “Games for Good”—serious games that nurture human connection, motivate, educate, and promote health and wellness.

It’s also great seeing a Vancouver team proving that not all medicine has to taste bad either.

Ayogo Health Inc
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Better Through Play: Games & Apps for Patient Engagement & Adherence. Ayogo motivates people to change their lives, one fun social game at a time. We apply the behavioral psychology of games and play to the management of chronic health conditions, and patient adherence. We are multiple award-winning start-up based in Vancouver’s emerging district for the digital and creative sectors on the... more

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John Gray

John Gray

John jumped into the startup world in early 2009, bringing his experience in business development and sales to companies creating new software products. He was co-founder and CEO of Mentionmapp, a visual analytics company that was acquired by OverInteractive Media in October 2011. Before that, he sold legal software and services (LexisNexis), medical devices (Auto Control Medical) and... more

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