SuperBetter Labs Unveils First Social Online Game: SuperBetter

Social Online Game Created by Jane McGonigal Enters Public Beta.

AUSTIN, TX -- SuperBetter Labs, a San Francisco based company, today launched SuperBetter, an online social game designed to help players build personal resilience and achieve their health and wellness goals, into public beta. Creator Jane McGonigal presented the new version during her Distinguished Speaker Session at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX. The game is now available to the public online at www.superbetter.com.

SuperBetter is the brainchild of world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, PhD, who created the platform along with a team of expert game designers, as well as guidance from doctors, psychologists, scientists, and medical researchers. Advisors and collaborators on this exciting new health and wellness platform include MDs and PhDs at Stanford, UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, and Ohio State University Medical Research Center.

McGonigal developed SuperBetter when she found herself struggling to recover from a severe concussion. Through her physical and emotional distress, McGonigal realized that, although pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. The result of this realization and her determination to get better was SuperBetter – a multiplayer social adventure game that puts players on a personal quest for health and wellness.

SuperBetter is designed to be interacted with in the real world by both the individual with a health goal and their "allies" – or support system, including friends, family, doctors, and caregivers – who help the player overcome both epic and everyday obstacles to achieve their goals. “It can’t cure an illness, but it can make players feel strong and powerful enough to achieve their goals, despite their illness,” says McGonigal.

For the last six months, SuperBetter the game has been in closed beta, with a select group of players tackling challenges as diverse as illness, injury, weight loss, eating better, getting fit, depression, social anxiety, and traumatic brain injury. During this time, many of these players saw success in using SuperBetter to achieve goals ranging from recovering from accidents to writing a novel to running a marathon to getting a new job.

SuperBetter allows players and their allies to create a personalized platform for real change in their lives,“ said McGonigal. “The most fascinating part of the closed beta has been learning from others in the community how they are using the game to achieve their epic win. We find our community of users has adapted the game to achieve goals we didn’t anticipate in our earlier version. This is exciting news for a platform that is in its infancy, that we’re already building a super-engaged community that can help us create and expand our vision of what SuperBetter is capable of.”

SuperBetter draws on core online game mechanics – social involvement, overcoming obstacles, feedback, and tracking progress – to give players a system to help them achieve their goals. Players recruit allies, complete quests (steps to help them achieve their goals), battle bad guys (things standing in their way), and activate power ups (boosts to keep players strong and motivated). Their resilience score, which tracks their ups and downs along the way to their epic win, measures their progress.

A unique feature of SuperBetter is its customized Power Packs – or in-game content that blend together scientific research and game design to personalize the game with expert advice and programs to help the user meet their goals and overcome challenges.

For example, SuperBetter has partnered with the non-profit Full Plate Diet to offer a free weight loss Power Pack, available to all players in the public beta.  The Power Pack is pre-populated with practical and fun resources to help participants successfully lose weight by eating natural, whole foods – consistent with the Full Plate Diet’s New York Times best-selling book of the same name.

“Achieving lasting weight loss is a huge challenge for so many people,” said Sid Lloyd, CEO of Full Plate Diet. “We are thrilled to partner with SuperBetter to provide engaging and evidence-based resources to help people make sustainable, positive changes in their lives.” 

As part of the public beta launch, SuperBetter has recruited a team of “All Stars,” -- players who will publicly share their SuperBetter experiences through video blogs over the next 6-8 weeks. Their stories will be showcased on SuperBetter’s blog and social media channels. SuperBetter Labs, the developer of SuperBetter, hopes these All Stars will inspire other people to join the game.

SuperBetter veteran Mary Russell describes the platform this way, “The game structure sends an incredibly powerful message that make your strengths and your goals as explicit as your battles.”

Russell, who overcame embarrassment, frustration, and a profound sense of failure to finally reach her goal weight, agrees: “If you feel like I did, that your history of struggle is a history of failure, and you are on the verge of giving up, then it’s time to be SuperBetter.”

Find SuperBetter online at www.superbetter.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/superbetter or on Twitter at @superbetter.

Cathie Bennett Warner, 415-420-1573, cathie@superbetter.com

Emily Torgerson, 512-586-2125, emily@iando.com

ABOUT SUPERBETTER LABS:  SuperBetter Labs’ mission is to design platforms that help people lead “epic lives.”  The concept of an epic life is centered on developing strong social relationships, positive emotion, overcoming challenges, and creating a truer sense of purpose in the real world through the use of online game mechanics, gameful IT products and other tested methods of positive social interaction.  SuperBetter is the first product of SuperBetter Labs, a social game platform designed to help players build personal resilience and achieve their health and wellness goals. More information on SuperBetter Labs can be found on the SuperBetter Labs web site, Facebook page and Twitter feed.  www.superbetterlabs.com, www.facebook.com/superbetterlabs, twitter.com/superbetterlabs (@superbetterlabs)

ABOUT FULL PLATE DIET: Full Plate Diet is a non-profit organization whose only mission is to improve the health & vitality of people to live more meaningful lives.  The organization’s lifestyle based approach to weight loss and healthy eating is based on the New York Times best seller, The Full Plate Diet.  More information on the Full Plate Diet is available at www.FullPlateDiet.org.

ABOUT THE GREATER GOOD SCIENCE CENTER:  The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. Based at the University of California, Berkeley, the GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: not only do they sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, they help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. Since 2001, GGSC has been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life. They have been without peer in their award-winning efforts to translate and disseminate this science to the public. More information on GGSC can be found at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR COMPASSION AND ALTRUISM RESEARCH AND EDUCATION:

CCARE was established at Stanford University within the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Research at the School of Medicine to support and conduct rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior. Drawing from several disciplines including neuroscience, psychology, economics and contemplative traditions, research at CCARE also examines methods for cultivating compassion and promoting altruism within individuals and society-wide. More information on CCARE can be found at http://ccare.stanford.edu/node

ADDITIONAL POWER PACKS TO BE LAUNCHED IN MARCH 2012:

Packs from SuperBetter Labs

Other Power Packs that will launch with SuperBetter and will become available during the month of March include:  Your Body Rocks (Positive Body Image); Better Than a Chill Pill (Anxiety & Stress Relief); Simply Connected (Created in Collaboration with Stanford's CCARE, compassion and feeling connected to the world around you); Realistic Optimism (based mostly on "learned optimism" research by Dr. Martin Seligman at UPenn); Rest Easy (insomnia, sleeping difficulty); Lazy Exercise; Mind Master; Stress Buster; Will Power; Being Awesome (Self-Compassion, Self-Esteem); The Power to Quit Smoking; The Power to Quit Anything; The Full Plate Diet (weight loss); The Mood Elevator - Ground One (depression/low mood); The Mood Elevator - First Floor; Social Resilience in 5 Minutes a Day; Physical Resilience in 5 Minutes a Day; Social Resilience  in 5 Minutes a Day; and, Mental Resilience in 5 Minutes a Day.

Packs created in collaboration with The Ohio State University Medical Center (for Phase I clinicals with mild/moderate TBI, Phase I beginning in March): Battle Royale; Make a Great Escape; Fun Days; Power Move; and, Return to Play.

SXSW Prize Packs (will be open to the public by March 31): Games that Spark Positive Emotions; and, Suped-Up South By (SuperBetter your SXSW Experience)

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