A Game That
Meals for Monsters is an educational, health-focused mobile app developed by Maria Hwang, assistant professor of Computer Science, and her students at FIT. In it, users select a monster avatar, each with a different background story, and help the monster work on its particular nutritional goals by selecting crowdsourced, “in-the-wild” meals to feed it.
To address the inequality of access to health nutrition knowledge, Hwang and her team of student researchers designed an information-sharing platform that is both widely accessible and appealing. Social media users are eager to share their knowledge to help community education, learn from this community knowledge, and translate this knowledge into behavioral change. They are also particularly receptive to suggestions from their peers, something Hwang took a step further to ask: “How could we design a system that leverages the influence of users and their peers in a safe and positive way?” Hwang and her team integrated these insights into a playful educational environment to help address disparities in nutritional literacy.