Can a Video Game Help with Self Care?

Recently, a good friend brought a game to my attention. When she said, “You have to check out this game!” my first reaction was, “No thank you…I don’t need another distraction!” I’ve never been much of a gamer, and I think the reason is because I can become obsessive about something fairly easily.

My friend persisted and convinced me to watch the game’s inventor, Jane McGonigal, explain the concept behind her idea. Once I realized that this “game” was really about promoting self-care, I jumped on board and started “playing.”

The game, which can be downloaded from most app stores or played online, is called SuperBetter. I originally chuckled at the name because it sounds like some kind of bad Japanese translation. But as I started playing, I couldn’t think of any name that was better suited for it!

Here’s the gist: like in most games, you are the central character. You can make a “secret identity” if you wish – really it’s a cool way of creating an online persona. You can form alliances with anyone else who is playing the game (it works with people who are not playing, too, but it’s not as effective). You identify your own “bad guys” – the things that are your greatest challenges AND your own “power ups” which are the things that you know make you feel better. It’s basically a guide to making your own personal self-care plan. It does not take a lot of time to play – you can do most things in less than 5 minutes. BUT IT WORKS. I can tell if I have gone a whole day without playing just by checking in with my tension levels.

SuperBetter, at the very least, is a reminder that you need to take care of yourself. But at the most – it can add years to your life, strengthen friendships, problem-solve obstacles and provide a community to share your experiences. If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, make sure to watch Jane’s video to hear her scientifically researched rationale behind the game. Then download the app or visit the SuperBetter site and get ready to feel…well, SuperBetter!