Will the games Nike+ plays help get me in shape?

Nike+ SportsBand
Nike+ SportsBand

At the beginning of the month, I threw down some money and purchased a Nike+ SportsBand along with some new running shoes. I had been eyeing the Nike+ gear for some time, and since I need a new pair of running shoes, I thought what the heck. Although, I have only had it for a week, I am a fan. Let me tell you why. Nike has made running just a little more fun. They have gamified running.

Feedback

In a game environment, feedback is essential. Feedback is basically a response system that feeds information to a player to help them make valid decisions (Dignan, 2011). Nike+ succeeds through real-time and post-run feedback as well as online community feedback.

Nike has done a great job of providing me with feedback about my runs. While running, I can toggle through the displays on the SportsBand Link to see distance ran, pace, time, and calories burned. After the run is complete, I plug my SportsBand Link into my computer’s USB port, and my run information is automatically pushed to Nike+ where it is immediately displayed on the Nikeplus.com Website. The SportsBand can store up to 30 hours of run information.

Nike+ PageOn the Nike+ Website, I can visually see how well my run went along with the distance, time, pace, and calories burned. I can see the progress I have made towards my personal goals. Additionally, the Nike+ site tracks total miles ran and the overall pace. Nike also lets me record information about my run such as how I was feeling, the type of weather, and running surface.

Finally, the Nike+ Website reports out all my personal bests to include (so far): highest amount of calories burned in a  run, the furthest distance run, longest time running, fastest 1K, fastest 5K, and fastest mile. I am confident there are more bests to uncover, I am eager to see them.

By displaying my personal bests, Nike is encouraging me to continuously improve my performance for running faster, longer, and further. These records are considered measurement achievements. Measurement achievements take into account how well you completed something (Kapp, 2012). They are feedback mechanisms used to help individual improvement. Kapp adds that they demonstrate competence and are more closely tied to intrinsic motivation. Because it leverages intrinsic motivation, I am more likely to continue.

Achievements

Double ShotNike+ has a number of achievements weaved into their program. Some of the achievements are known entities while others are a surprise. For example, I earned the Double Shot achievement for working out twice in one day. There are others for unique events such as running on Halloween. Elliot Burford has cataloged some of the achievements. The known achievements are easier to predict. For example, I need only 17 more miles to reach my first level (50km). I also expect some type of visual display once I reach my first goal to run 24 times over the next six weeks.

As Kapp (2012) points out achievements or tasks should not be too easy or hard; individuals must believe they are able to achieve the goal. Each of the achievements and goals that Nike+ makes available increase in difficulty but they build on previous success and are always within grasp.

Social competition and encouragement

Prior to using Nike+, I would see runs Nike+ posts on Facebook and Twitter, and I personally thought this was a cool way for friends to share their journey. Because I need to get back in shape to even begin running in earnest, I am hesitant to post my runs publicly. In time, I expect that I will post some of my better runs and successes. In the meantime, I have invited some of my friends to join me on Nike+ where we can cheer each other on.

Nike+ has varying levels of permissions. You can let anyone see your profile, restrict it to friends, or restrict it to only your personal view. The same goes with any social media like Facebook and Twitter. You get to decide if you want to connect to these social media outlets, and when to make a posting.

Finally, as an added bit of encouragement, the Nike+ Website also lets you know where you stand in relation to others of the same gender and age as well as the entire Nike+ community. You get to see where you compare in terms of miles for the last 30 days, average daily distance, and average pace. Right now, I am behind the average daily distance and slightly behind on the average pace. I do expect to improve… I now have new goals to shoot for.

I am fascinated on how game mechanics can affect your motivation. I will let you know how it goes. But if you really want a running adventure, I suggest checking out Zombie, Run!

References

Dignan, A. (2011). Game frame: Using games as strategy for success. New York: Free Press.
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction : game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.