Co-Founder, CEO LifeGuard Games, Inc.
Wellapets, live on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore, is fundamentally changing the way kids and families manage their health, focusing first on asthma. Wellapets is doing this by teaching and motivating today’s kids in their native language – mobile games.
In doing so, Wellapets are taking on the particularly intractable problems of health self-management, health literacy, and stigma. Bringing Wellapets live has been an incredibly fulfilling and exciting journey.
What is a Wellapet?
A Wellapet is a fun, lovable fire-breathing dragon that has asthma and lives on your phone or tablet. Because of their asthma, Wellapets can only breathe fire if their asthma is under control. Anyone can adopt and personalize their own Wellapet, and begin playing with and caring for it today!
Taking good care of your Wellapet, taking good care of you
Looking after your Wellapet helps you unlock more collectibles, minigames and rooms for play.
Pivoting to Wellapets
Wellapets, developed by LifeGuard Games, Inc., was born out of our co-founders’ earlier mHealth application, Remindavax, which helped to coordinate antenatal and maternal care visits in resource-poor settings via SMS and a web application.
Surprisingly, after developing and implementing Remindavax with over 4000 users across rural India, the national Government of India rolled out and mandated the use of their own system, which served the same functions as Remindavax. This left us with few growth opportunities in India, but we took away some of our most valuable lessons in product design and development for healthcare. It was time for a pivot.
After an inspiring speech by Jane McGonigal, a leading serious games thinker and designer, the soon-to-be Wellapets’ co-founders became engrossed with the directing their passion for health toward developing educational games. The opportunity to develop something marketable and meaningful became clear after coming across promising research demonstrating that games could actually make kids healthier, combined with the lack of products available and a consumer demand for such games.
There was just one minor problem
Our game design experience was limited, generously speaking. Ironically, it was out of this deficit that we made one of our best decisions of all: to model our game after an existing genre. Virtual pets made a lot of sense to us, given their global appeal, timelessness and ability to realistically simulate health. These were also games that had shaped our childhoods – think Neopets, Pokemon and Tamagotchi. So, we set off to build a game with a firm determination not to end up as a gamified tool or a gamified educational experience.
Working from our framework of a virtual pet game, we collaborated with Greg Sawicki, MD, MPH of Boston Children’s Hospital to hone the educational objectives of our game. For months, we struggled to integrate fragmented ideas and messages into meaningful gameplay, but eventually succeeded, thanks to many rounds of testing with early supporters, and collaboration with game industry veterans.
As we continue to race forward, we’ll be adding content to the game, translating for play abroad and developing sequel games as well.
But enough reading for now, check out our free lite version and see what fun you and your family can have with a Wellapet!