By Elissaveta M. Brandon
I have tried my fair share of mental health and wellness-adjacent apps. First, there were Calm and Headspace, the obvious contenders. Then there was Fabulous, which purports to help you build better habits, then Thought Diary, which prompts you to jot down your thoughts and feelings at a set time every day.
For two quarantine weeks in January, I also got hooked on an app called W1D1, which sends you daily creative challenges (an important part of mental health for me). But every single one of these is now gathering dust amid a sea of apps I eagerly downloaded and promptly forgot—probably because I didn’t have any real incentives to keep using them.
That’s why Craig Ferguson, a lead platforms engineer at MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing group, has developed Paradise Island, a mental health mobile game that sends you on real-life missions in exchange for in-game rewards. The idea is to keep people coming back for rewards, which in turn keeps them more engaged with the process.