There’s no doubt game mechanics are hot right now. In every new bleeding edge app you can be almost guaranteed to be awarded a badge for checking in to a new store, eating at a new restaurant, trying on new clothes… the list goes on, and on. At the same time, there’s a new trend in the grown-up geek crowd to quantify health and fitness data. We’ve written a little about these types of emerging apps and how they can help users automate the collection of data to make better decisions about their daily life.
A new Web-based app that’s still in invite only beta called Fitocracy is capitalizing on these trends with a demographic that grew up gaming — and now needs a little fitness in their lives. Founded by Brian Wang, a former gamer geek turned fitness buff, Fitocracy grew out of a recognized need to make fitness fun, specifically for this gamer crowd who naturally relates to the idea of achievements in a role-playing environment. Where your character gains the experience and success of fitness, the rewards are returned by the game mechanics of Fitocracy. In fact, Brian points out a comic in xkcd that made this connection first years ago. The idea, of course, is not so alienating as to exclude users like, well, me. Part of Fitocracy includes a leaderboard, which compares the points I earn for my activities to other users. Brian explains this makes it easy to see what others are doing “right” and could help users who aren’t scoring very high think about what they’re “doing wrong” in terms of their fitness regime. It also fosters competition, which as Brian explains, could drive users to push themselves harder, faster, and farther.
This is how Fitocracy works as a social network, and it’s just beginning. Soon, Brian expects integration with other devices and apps that are used by self-quantifiers to measure their fitness like FitBit and RunKeeper. Right now, Fitocracy users have to manually input their walks, runs, weights, etc. Though Brian notes that automation can sometimes keep these types of users from thinking about what they are doing, and in effect the changes they need to make, it could make Fitocracy easier to use in the long-term. Brian’s also building up a team of advisors, including nutrition and fitness guru Alan Aragon, to build out Fitocracy even further. Though Brian has dozens of ideas for the site that will be rolling out over time, one he mentioned was the implementation of a nutritional and possible psychological aspect soon — which, as any fitness buff knows, goes hand-in-hand.
If you want to try out Fitocracy, we’ve got a few invite codes for you and your friends right here — after all, it’s more fun to compete with people you know. And stay tuned for more features to Fitocracy, including a mobile app for iOS users soon.