Over the years, Marvel’s Iron Man has built many versions of his armored suit, from the first MK I grey armor to the MK XLV (if we’re talking Earth-199999, aka the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Each one has been intended to be an improvement upon the previous, and there also have been various add-ons, like the famous Hulkbuster exo-frame featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
When it comes to his suits, Tony Stark definitely practices what another Tony, Anthony Robbins, would call CANI (“Constant and Never-ending Improvement”). But Tony Stark is also a billionaire, with virtually limitless funds to spend on constantly upgrading his tech.
The team behind SuperBetter, LLC, are not billionaires. But they also believe in constant and never-ending improvement. SuperBetter, LLC, is the Chicago-based company that has recently taken over ownership of the app that was once run in San Francisco by SuperBetter Labs (not to be confused with SuperBetter, LLC) based on the game created by author Jane McGonigal. And with your help they’d like to take SuperBetter to the next level.
Starting today, Oct. 6, and for the next 46 days, the SuperBetter team are running their Indiegogo campaign for SuperBetter 2.0, the new and improved version of the app that has already helped nearly half a million people in significant ways. SuperBetter 2.0 seeks to be for users of the original app and fans of McGonigal’s gameful philosophy what the MK XLV armor is to Iron Man, i.e. the best it can be.
The proof is in the pudding
Or rather, in this case, the proof is in the science.
A few years ago I wrote an article about the original SuperBetter app and shared my opinions about why I believed it was such an effective, powerful tool both for medical and psychological recovery as well as general goal setting. There are also many testimonials on the Web from users who swear that the app has changed or saved their life. And while opinions and verbal testimonies are great, SuperBetter also has a wealth of scientific research backing it up.
At ShowMeTheSciene.com you can find dozens of links to studies of the various mental, physical, emotional and social benefits of purposeful gaming. On top of that, there have been two independent studies examining the benefits of specifically using the SuperBetter app: one study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, the other one by Ohio State University.
The Penn study was a randomized controlled trial examining the effects of two different templates of SuperBetter, one template based on cognitive-behavioral therapy and one based on general, easy-to-do activities. The research team measured subjects’ self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, life satisfaction, self-efficacy, and social support both before and after one month of using both templates of the app. Both templates led to lower levels of depression and anxiety along with higher levels of life satisfaction compared to the control group.
If you want the gist of how SuperBetter can help you in various ways, Jane McGonigal’s TED talks are a great distillation of the key points in her books. To delve into those ideas more deeply, her new book SuperBetter (see my review) provides a great survey of the available research in one handy volume.
But the best way to gauge the app’s value is to download it and try it out yourself. Those currently facing serious challenges in their lives such as illness and bereavement might notice the most dramatic benefits, but the app is also just an overall great tool for any kind of goal-setting, especially for those who already like games and gaming culture. And really: who, in this day and age, doesn’t?
One of the best things about SuperBetter, since its initial release as a downloadable app back in 2012, is that it has always been (and still is) free. Now as everyone knows, when it comes to mobile apps, “free” rarely equates to actually being free because most free apps are either laden with ads or in-app purchases that are pretty much mandatory if you want to access the features that are really useful. Sometimes this makes some free apps, especially games, more expensive in the long run than regular paid apps. But SuperBetter is free of both annoying ads and required in-app purchases. Now that the app has a new owner and will be upgraded, additional paid features will eventually be added but this will be for the best, allowing the developers to keep adding more features that users want.
Blasting Bad Guys with SuperBetter 2.0
In her book, SuperBetter, Jane McGonigal explains Bad Guys as those things that make our respective situations, whatever they may be, harder for us. They are obstacles, things that get in the way and trigger negative thoughts and feelings. My noisy, inconsiderate neighbors, for instance, are two of my most diabolical Bad Guys in that they make it even harder for my sick brain to concentrate and to do my writing, which is the single most important activity to me. These Sisters of Bedlam (as I’ve thus named them) are just two among many of my Bad Guys, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard for you to think up a list of the Bad Guys that are tormenting your own life right now.
Now just imagine Tony Stark, as smart as he is, going up against villains like Whiplash, Mandarin and the Crimson Dynamo without his armor. He could still probably find a way to win, just like you already have the innate capacity to defeat your own demons. But the armor makes it a little easier. And even with the armor, when it comes to those formless Bad Guys like his penchant for alcoholism and depression, Tony Stark’s suit is well-nigh useless.
In reality, of course, there are no supervillains like Whiplash and the Crimson Dynamo. There are only the all-too-real Bad Guys like stress, depression, anxiety and illness. And as someone who at this very moment is grappling with various degrees of all of these things, and who has personally benefited from SuperBetter in a number of ways, I encourage you to download this app and give it a try, especially if you are also facing any kind of significant challenge (or even if you’re not). The worst thing that could happen is that you’ll feel the app isn’t quite for you and you will have spent some time playing an interesting game. The best thing that could happen is that you’ll find yourself blasting away your Bad Guys and creating the life you want to live.
Even if you don’t have an interest in personally using the app, if you can appreciate how much the SuperBetter system has quantifiably helped so many people in all the ways mentioned above, and you believe it is worthy of support so that it can continue to improve, consider helping. Share this article or the SuperBetter Indiegogo campaign link, or forgo today’s Starbucks latte and pitch in a few bucks. Better yet do both! After all, a society full of happier and healthier people benefits all by virtue of the spillover effect. Other people’s well-being is very much in everyone’s self-interest in more ways that I can explain in a single article.
With your help, SuperBetter can get the upgrade it needs and deserves and then, like Iron Man’s state-of-the-art MK XLVI suit, help you and many others to defeat your most feared Bad Guys, even if they’re as powerful and terrible as Loki and Ultron. Or those dreadful Sister of Bedlam.