How to Heal Yourself with Games

Written by: Kristin Jekielek


SuperBetter is a unique concept, and I’m really excited it exists. It turns recovering from health issues into a game.

That’s, right: a game. And it’s actually fun and encouraging to play.

In fact, I wish I had it to use when I was going through the worst of my own health issues. I really think it would have helped! The best part is that it’s all based on well-supported science. More about that in a minute.

In “Superbetter,” players set a goal (health or wellness related) and invite others to play with them--and to keep them on track.

You can check it out and sign up here:  (ps - it’s totally free)

I’ve spent the past week playing around with it, and it’s pretty darn nifty! See how far I progressed spending just a couple minutes each day playing the game:

The method is to complete Quests that pump up your Mental, Emotional, Social, and Physical health in tiny little doses (which are perfect when you’re ill).

As an example, here’s one of the Quests I worked on:

Quest Title: Pump Up Curiosity, Part I: The Antidote to Anxiety

DESCRIPTION: Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it does wonders for humans!

“I call curiosity the engine of growth. You can’t find your passions or purpose in life without trial and error experimentation.”

That’s Dr. Todd B. Kashdan and his research suggests that anxiety and curiosity are twin impulses. As humans, we want to uncover what’s lurking within the cave AND run screaming from it.


YOUR QUEST: Read this interview with Dr. Kashdan about curiosity, anxiety, and living a meaningful life. (provides link to article)

Which kind of strength does this build up most?: MENTAL

I love how these quests link to the science behind WHY we’re doing all of these activities on here. Being knowledgeable about my issues makes me feel more empowered in any situation.

I learned about this game through a TED talk given by game designer Jane McGonigal. Here’s Jane’s bio:

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience -- and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.

You can learn all about Jane (and see Jane run) at

Have you played SuperBetter? What's your take on it? What do you think about using games to help the healing process? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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