Mindbloom, With New Social Game, Finds Niche in Health, Wellness, and “Gamification” of the Web

What sits at the intersection of health and wellness websites, virtual currencies, and “gamification” of the Web? Right now, a Seattle startup called Mindbloom.

This is an outfit founded in 2008 by Chris Hewett and Brent Poole. Their mission is to help consumers lead more healthy, balanced and meaningful lives—and do it through a new kind of social game experience that has elements of casual gaming, social networking, and personal media sharing. The Life Game, as Mindbloom announced this week, rewards players for taking steps along their “life tree” towards achieving goals in their career, lifestyle, relationships, and health. The virtual currency (“seeds”) they earn can be used to unlock other types of content in the game.

The concept reminds me a little bit of the social/wellness nature of a few other Seattle-area websites, such as 43 Things (for consumers) and Limeade (for employees). There’s also some virtual economics and video-game mechanics at work, like we’ve seen with BigDoor Media in software platforms, and Bobber Interactive in the financial services industry.

But enough with the comparisons. The Mindbloom founders have a pretty interesting story to tell. Hewett is a longtime veteran of video-game studios, including Monolith Productions, while Poole was an early operations director for Amazon.com and an executive with Ernst & Young.

Here’s a Q&A I did with Hewett, Mindbloom’s co-founder and executive producer, conducted via e-mail. We touched on a number of broad themes, including his personal motivation for Mindbloom, current trends in casual games, and the future of consumer Internet sites:

Xconomy: What was the genesis of the idea behind Mindbloom? How is your “social wellness” game unique?

Chris Hewett: Prior to Mindbloom, I spent 10 years producing award winning 3D action games—Aliens vs. Predator 2 for Fox Interactive, Tron 2.0 for Disney, and my last game was the blockbuster hit F.E.A.R. for Vivendi/Universal.

During those 10 years, I was motivated by fear. I worked 14 hour days because I believed I would fail if I didn’t give my work everything I had. My health, my relationships with family and friends, and my passion to play music were all but put on hold. At the peak of my career, when I had everything I was taught would make me happy, I was the most depressed I had ever been.

I considered quitting, but realized that this fear of failure would follow me wherever I went. Instead, I decided to change how I lived. I decided let go of my fear and trust that I could be … Next Page »

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