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Making It

Clever Game Turns Taking The Stairs Into A Hiking Competition With Co-Workers

Few of us will ever climb Mount Everest, but what if we could take the office stairs to the top?

No one wants to take the stairs. It’s true. Even that guy at your workplace who says he loves the stairs? He secretly loathes them. Stairs are why we invented elevators. Stairs are why we’re willing to suspend our lives from a cable in a tiny box full of strangers, 40 stories up.

But in an era when we’re all stuck behind desks housed in tall buildings, stairs are this absurdly obvious solution to fitness at the workplace. If only, you know, everyone didn’t loathe taking the stairs.

London design studio Digit may have created the solution. City Peaks is an internal game they’ve designed that maps someone’s office ascent to some of the city’s highest peaks: their famous buildings like The Shard (Mountain) or Gherkin (Pike).

"The inspiration was London," Strategy Director Laura Tan tells Co.Design. "We’re on the top floor of our building in Spitalfields, which means we have an amazing view of the city. If you look long enough, you see a horizon dotted with office buildings, each a potential arena for fitness and community building."

The system itself is remarkably simple. Workers track their progress through RFID stations set up around the building, and then Digit’s software uses simple addition to calculate each player’s progress up each successive peak, along with their standings in relation to coworkers. It’s a motivational balance between personal bests and a larger pool competition, an example of gamification metrics firing on all cylinders.

Click to zoom.

"We’ve climbed 7763.22 meters as a studio—almost 90% of Mount Everest collectively," writes Tan. "A few of us were already regular stair climbers prior to launch, so there are enthusiastic outliers who’ve steamed ahead … [but] at its bare minimum, the game has caused everyone to do more, and that’s a great thing."

Digit is currently optimizing the beta software in-house, but it sounds like they do recognize the wider commercial appeal in what they’ve created thus far. Even without their software, as I type this sentence from the 11th floor, I find myself more motivated to take the stairs down from my perch. If only I had a game to show me that exercising meant something more than just increased strength, a chiseled body, and a longer lifespan.

[Hat tip: Creative Applications]

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