You might wonder if the best way to motivate an audience to get fit is to target them with an online game. But Conde Nast’s SELF magazine believes its new “SELF Workout in the Park” Facebook game will help its target audience visualize getting out to exercise in real life.
The game, which launches on Facebook March 19, is a virtual version of the live “Workout in the Park” promotional events SELF has been running around the nation for 19 years now. It lets players design an avatar that resembles them and set up their own virtual wellness spaces complete with exercise machines, nutrition centers and beauty and fashion locations. Players can sign in and get their virtual selves moving on treadmills, trampolines, yoga mats and free weights, shedding pounds and gaining health (and apparel) as they level up in the game.
“Being healthy and fit is part of the zeitgeist of the American woman these days and also what our brand represents,” says SELF vice president and publisher Laura McEwen, who helped steer the partnership with four game developers that came up with the Workout in the Park game. “The lifestyle of the American woman also includes logging on to Facebook and playing social games. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to merge that social trend with a game that suits that lifestyle?’”
Players in the game start each day with a certain amount of energy credits and can expend those doing workouts or add to them by completing missions such as blending smoothies. As they progress in the game, their avatars slim down and grow more energetic.
“You can see your own life in the game,” says McEwen. “You can feel that experience through the persona that you create. The avatar body can be designed to reflect your own physicality, and the eyes, skin tone and hair style can all be customized to your own. So as you play the game, you can start to see what fitness can be like through the avatar, and hopefully you incorporate those habits into your real life.”
As with social games from Farmville to Car Town, players are also able to invite friends into their workout parks or to visit other locations and can give virtual gifts to their friends. A mobile app scheduled for iTunes rollout in April will also let users log their real-life workouts into the game and earn in-game points and experiences that way.
The game will also integrate into this year’s live SELF Workout in the Park Tour, set to open in San Francisco in early May with stops in New York and Chicago. Those events will feature tents where attendees can be introduced to the game and to live versions of some of the characters who will give health, nutrition and beauty advice inside the game.
While brands will eventually be integrated into “SELF Workout in the Park”, those integrations are left out of the launch version to give players a chance to get acclimated to the game’s basic mechanics, McEwen. Branding opportunities will include logos placed on trampolines or other equipment used in the game, customized game play features, or the creation of customized virtual goods or gifts that players can purchase.
Those virtual buys will be cleared by partner agency Live Gamer, responsible for ecommerce within the game. McEwen’s SELF team also worked with agencies SMERC on game development and Kontagent for digital analytics.
Self and the game partners have also planned some enhancements that will be rolled into the game in later iterations, to keep players interested and returning frequently. Video and display ads will also be incorporated into the game site.
“We look on this as a new line of business [for SELF],” says McEwen. “Revenue streams will be through traditional ad sales, sponsorships and the sale of virtual goods or virtual currency with which players can earn those goods.”