Games in Healthcare

Online Game Fatworld Educates on Nutrition and Obesity

FatworldFatworld, a free, downloadable video game about eating, obesity and the politics of nutrition was launched in early 2008.

Published by ITVS Interactive and PBS's award-winning weekly series Independent Lens and created by Atlanta-based independent and activist game studio Persuasive Games, it aims to educate teens and adults on the long term health impacts of their daily choices.

"Existing approaches to nutrition advocacy fail to communicate the collective effect of everyday health practices," said Dr. Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games co-founder and lead designer of the game, in a news release. Read More...

"In a video game, we can simulate the passage of time and give players a view of their future selves based on their current habits."

The game allows players to choose their character’s starting weights and health conditions, as well as predispositions toward certain medical conditions or food allergies. Players will also create a menu of foods to eat and avoid, create an exercise plan (or not) and see the effects of these decisions on the general health of their character.

Those who eat more than they burn will get fat. Those who eat poorly develop adverse health conditions, just like in real life.

While the game hopes to raise awareness on the effects of nutrition and other life choices on one’s health, it does not mean to tell people what to eat or how to exercise. Instead, it aims to “demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations,” explains the game’s website.

Fatworld is available as a free download at fatworld.org