MeYou Health Enters Social Gaming Realm with Daily Challenge for Improving Well-Being

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work out over the next year whether to offer features in the game that people would pay for with their credit cards, Cartter said. Those features could be focused on helping players quit smoking, increase their physical activity, or achieve some other health-related goal. There’s also a possibility that Healthways could get paid to provide health-improvement products based on the game to companies, which could offer the game to employees as a wellness program.

“If we can engage people, and with that over time demonstrate with credible research that what we’re doing has measurable effects on peoples’ health and well-being,” Cartter said, “then that’s the real [return-on-investment] here.”

Healthways launched MeYou in Boston’s trendy South End in September 2009, Cartter said. The parent company is headquartered about 20 miles south of Nashville in Franklin, TN, but the firm chose to operate MeYou in Boston to access the software engineering and game designing talent in the Hub. The group also operates much like a startup with a small staff of a dozen employees. Prior to leading the launch of MeYou, Cartter was the senior vice president of Internet innovation at Healthways. He also served as CEO of QuitNet, a provider of online smoking cessation services, which Healthways acquired in 2006.

MeYou’s small staff has been busy over the past year. The group previously created Community Clash, an online card game that shows a player how his community’s health statistics stack up against another city’s. The game was noted in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Community Health Data Initiative, which is an effort to use the government’s public health data to boost awareness among citizens and communities and influence their decisions about their health. In addition, the group has developed a desktop app called EveryDrink that gives people reminders to help them remember to drink water when they’re at their computers and to help achieve their hydration goals.

This month, MeYou is planning to roll out a Facebook app called Change Reaction that gives players a health-related task to complete and pass along to their friends on the social network. Then it aims to launch an iPhone app called Monumental, which encourages people to climb actual stairs to make their way up virtual versions of famous real-world structures like Paris’s Eiffel Tower and the Sears Tower in Chicago. The app requires and uses the iPhone 4’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope.

“Our intent is to reach a broad audience, not just those who are already predisposed to playing video games or online social games,” Cartter said.

MeYou, and other companies like it, will learn in the months ahead whether social games and mobile apps that promote healthy behaviors can gain a firm footing among consumers.

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