How Weight Watchers is Like an RPG

I need to lose weight, and the Weight Watchers points concept actually resonates with me, as I attempt to do something similar with my home meals, I just don't count the calories like I should. But damn, it is hyperbranded as a female diet plan, and I'm self-conscious enough printing out a Men's Health diet at the office. Still, Wired's Clive Thompson has a different take on why WW works — it's actually an RPG.

The Weight Watchers program is designed precisely like a role-playing dungeon crawler. That's why people love it, stick to it and have success with it. And it points to the way that we could use game design to make life's drudgery more bearable. [...]Weight Watchers' points function precisely like hit points; each bite of food does damage until you've used up your daily amount, so you sleep and start all over again. Play well and you level up — by losing weight! And the more you play it, the more you discover interesting combinations of the rules that aren't apparent at first. Hey, if I eat a fruit-granola breakfast and an egg-and-romaine lunch, I'll have enough points to survive a greasy hamburger dinner for a treat!

Not to say that his point is b.s., but many things in life can be equated to an RPG or other form of a video game. When I got going in amateur standup comedy, I really perceived my progression in terms of a video game. Start out as a novice. Play these venues. Stay within your time. Achievement unlocked: 7 minutes in a Rooster's open mike. I'm sure lots of you have seen goals and processes in your own lives in the same way.

So the fact a gaming mentality could be applied to dieting doesn't strike me as odd. The question though: does an unpleasant, difficult goal become easier if you consciously approach it as a game? (For example, nothing billed as "nutritious and delicious" ever gets eaten.) Or should its "game" aspect be more subtle?

Fun Way to Lose Weight: Turn Dieting into an RPG [Wired]


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