Punch Buggy Blue! and Other Lessons from Childhood Play…

My brother used to punch me every time a Volkswagen Beetle drove by. The rules of the game were simple: the first one to spot the Beetle got to call out “Punch Buggy” followed by the car color (you know, to verify authenticity, no cheap shots allowed) and throw the punch. Since my brother was older and taller, and could see out of the back window of the car more easily, the game should have been re-named Little Sister Sore Arm (the acronym of which, if spelled backward, must have been what my little sister self thought of my brother during this game). I don’t know how that game evolved, or why it had to be a Volkswagen Beetle specifically, but years later, the automative maker Volkswagen is still captivating consumer thought and play by asking an important question: can we influence people to make more positive choices by making them more fun? They used this concept to encourage people to drive more environmentally conscious cars, and propelled that idea into their “Fun Theory.” They host a competition to utilize fun ways to encourage positive outcomes (www.thefuntheory.com). This has important implications for health, as our population has become increasingly sedentary, and making positive choices like walking up stairs instead of taking an escalator can seem difficult to achieve. Check out this short video for this Fun Theory winner’s creative solution, and their remarkable results showing a 66% increase in healthy behavior:

I also think it has far reaching implications about play and fun in health care beyond the cardiovascular benefits. Why is fun important? Why do we play? And should we Continue reading