I hate walking, so I tried to rewire my habits with a free app. It works — but I’m still torn about recommending it for 3 reasons.

Yes, I’m very proud of my planet collection.

Insider/Kai Xiang Teo

Walkr is a Taiwanese gamification app that incentivizes users to walk by rewarding them with planets.
In my experience though, the app motivates you to walk more through peer pressure than gamification.
Much as I loved my experience of using it, I think this is not my cup of tea.

The core premise of “Walkr: Fitness Space Adventure” is simple: the more you walk, the more “energy” you collect, which you can use to speed up the discovery of a new planet for your collection.

The app, released by Taiwanese developer Fourdesire in 2014, is free to use and allows users to collect planets that range from the adorable Dream Tapir, to the delicious-looking Dessert Saturn and the bizarre Planet Radish Head.

After consistently hitting 10,000 steps a day during my three months with the app, I can confidently say I feel good.
I love that the detours I go on in my quest for more planets clears my head, gives me time to think about my day, and gets me out of the sedentary desk worker routine.

Much as I loved my experience of using it, I’m torn about recommending this app for three reasons.

1. A step counter doesn’t really need to be this complex

Screenshot of Walkr’s “Lab,” “Epics,” and “Satellites” features

Insider/Kai Xiang Teo

When I was first introduced to Walkr by a Taiwanese friend, he spent the next hour explaining the app’s dizzying array of features.

It went like something along the lines of, “So each planet has seven levels, and at first you can upgrade them with coins, but eventually, you’ll probably want to start using labs. But I wouldn’t worry about that right now, because you can’t use labs or epics until you get more levels and planets anyway…”

When I first started using it, I was swamped by the game’s features, which feature little explanation and include “epics” where you work together with other players to meet goals, “satellites” you can collect to match with your planets, and “labs” for users to pool their energy together to upgrade planets.

Even though I wound up meeting the app’s goal of 10,000 steps a day, 5 days a week, it is one surprisingly complex step counter.

2. Peer pressure was a bigger motivator for me than the planets

Screenshot of the game’s co-pilot feature, and how energy is used to speed up the discovery of new planets in Walkr

Insider/Kai Xiang Teo

The more I used Walkr and brought new friends into the planet-collecting fold, the more it became clear that the app is less about motivating you with gamification and more about pushing you with peer pressure.

Walkr has a co-pilot feature, allowing your friends to gain some of the energy that you generate from walking — I added three close friends as co-pilots shortly after first downloading it.

This created an interesting side effect: irate friends noticing I haven’t been walking much lately, and who began badgering me to walk more.

It worked both ways — I found myself pushing friends to walk more too.

3. You might not be into “extrinsic motivation”

Yes, I enjoy the exploring the great outdoors, but I’d enjoy it even more if I’m also collecting planets while I’m out there.

Insider/Kai Xiang Teo

When I tried pitching the app to a friend to score another convert and potential co-pilot, he started at me blankly and asked: “Why do you need planets to convince you to walk?”

I explained to him that — as ridiculous as it might sound — I love structured playtime. Basically, I’m driven by “extrinsic motivation,” or motivation that is driven by external rewards — like planets, points, or game achievements.

My friend, on the other hand, is a fan of “intrinsic motivation.” In other words, he does things because he enjoys the act of doing them. For him, walking is innately fun because he gets to be outdoors.

And I think this split in our opinions captures the essence of what makes gamification apps like Walkr right or wrong for you.

Those who enjoy walking probably didn’t need Walkr’s planets to begin with, but if you’re a structured playtime enthusiast like me, you’ll probably love gathering Walkr’s quirky collection of planets too.

Fourdesire CEO Wei-Fan Chen told Insider they’re still working on making the Walkr app more user-friendly and enjoyable to use, and are taking inspiration from user stories.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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