Wants and needs. The words are so close in meaning, they’re often interchangeable; almost synonymous — yet not quite. Humaginarium uses them to differentiate customer motivations, when it comes to playing our unusual video games; and also the payoffs that follow.
To be clear: Wants are desires. Needs are necessities. And both matter.
In the pragmatic world of tech startups — where Humaginarium occasionally visits and all problems are reducible to algorithms — wants are fluff and needs are raisons d’être.
Did you get that? I’ll elaborate.
- Wants are subjective. Needs are objective.
- Wants are “take it or leave it.” Needs are “gotta have it.”
- Wants are choices. Needs are imperatives.
- Wants are rewarded. Needs are met.
- Wants are pleasurable. Needs are painful.
- Wants are emotional. Needs are physical.
- Wants are fanciful. Needs are empirical.
People love what they want and hate what they need. I could go on like this for hourst. It’s a tense dichotomy in human nature.
Wants are addressed in art and entertainment, where they seek catharsis. Wants are addressed in industries like fashion and hospitality, that rely on customers enjoying themselves; that strive to please, since they know their customers have many choices and moreover control their choices.
Humaginarium makes art and entertainment in the form of video games. Not talking about serious games (grody) or gamification (gag me) or educational games (with a spoon). Talking about blockbuster, bestseller, AAA, dumbass games that are good for one thing only: escapism.
Except ours are not good for one thing. They’re good for two: escapism, and competence. Wants, and needs. Our games build skills called “constructive health competence,” which means the capacity of folks to take better care of themselves; to collaborate fully in medical decision-making; to participate actively in personalized healthcare.
Wait, don’t all patients already participate in healthcare? No, they don’t; no more than the chicken in your sandwich participated in agriculture and gastronomy. It’s not that folks don’t what to collaborate and participate, but they’re stymied: they don’t know how to begin or what to expect.
Humaginarium understands that health literacy, health acumen and medical self-efficacy are desperately needed by millions of people, but are nowhere available. Nowhere! So we address those needs in ways that are also desirable.
Because, let’s be honest, nobody likes healthcare. In this year’s presidential debates, when candidates said, “if you love your healthcare, you can keep it,” I wondered why they were talking to British or French or German voters — or practically anybody on earth other than patients living in the United States.
In fact, when we peel away the PR and bureaucracy, it’s clear that everybody in America hates healthcare, but puts up with it, because they have bloody needs. They put up with scary, clinical, patronizing, embarrassing, dehumanizing, baffling, riddled with mistakes, impoverishing, infuriating, futile — because they have unmet needs for control; especially control of chronic illness.
The problem is, putting up with healthcare isn’t fun. Even thinking about it is stressful.
The solution is, make it fun so folks want to think about it. Effective may follow. Health usually follows happiness. And that’s how Humaginarium performs its magic. By folding the wants of folks for escapist art into their needs for health competence, we have invented a way to empower. Empower is the opposite of telling folks what to do. It is enabling them to do for themselves.
Should you care about meeting your needs by satisfying your wants? Yes, most definitively you should care, if you’re a gamer. If you’re not a gamer, well, you can easily change that by learning how to play.
You’ll be glad to find that Humaginarium video games respect what you want, and respect what you need, and they don’t require a prescription.