Daniel Tolks

Research Associate at Centre for Applied Health Promotion, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Daniel Tolks

Research Associate at Centre for Applied Health Promotion, Leuphana University Lüneburg
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Daniel Tolks studied health promotion and did his PhD at the LMU Munich in the field of health system comparison. He works in the field of blended learning and digitalization in medical and health education. His research topics are digitalization in medical education, health communication and Serious Games and Gamification for Health. He is part of the Wellbeing Game project . He is also chairman of the “Digitalization” Committee of the German Medical Education Society and Head of the Communication and Health Education Group at the LMU.


The Wellbeing Game. How to foster wellbeing using gamification

The five ways to wellbeing is a communication framework developed to promote wellbeing in the general population. The five ways (connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give) are designed to target the individual directly, to implement in daily life and to open space for choice and variety.

Gamification is defined as: “[…] the use of game design in non-game contexts”. The underlying concept of gamification is to use the motivational potential of entertainment games by adapting specific mechanisms of such games to other contexts. Common goals of gamification are improvement of engagement and behavioral change. Gamification can foster affect, behaviour, and cognition and has a positive influence on health and wellbeing and is successful to address hard-to-reach audiences.

The positive effects of the use of gamification towards the wellbeing status have been shown in different settings in New Zealand; transferability in other countries still remains unknown.

Aim of the present study is to adopt a Wellbeing Game to the German context and to evaluate its health effects in different settings.

The overall goal of the Wellbeing Game named “Onya” is to develop awareness of their own wellbeing-related activities and is being motivated to engage in such activities more frequently.

“Onya” is based on a previously web-based application published by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. Players document their daily activities in the game and categorize them to the five factors to wellbeing. The users join teams to work together and improve their wellbeing status. The wellbeing enhancing activities are rewarded with points, which can be achieved on an individual and team basis. Onya uses game design elements like badges, leaderboards, and points to motivate users to participate in the game..

The actual game is newly developed and includes more game design elements including performance graphs, level-ups, quest, team-based activities, commentary and liking functions, and the opportunity to propose wellbeing related activities. The project is funded by the Federal Centre for Health Education within the German Federal Ministry of Health.

“Onya” will be applied in different settings in Germany and be evaluated in a randomized controlled trial regarding the effects on mental health outcomes. The game adaptation will consider cultural and legal specifications. The results of the study will be presented at the conference.