Health2.0: Hunting Cryptic Cryptids in Cryptozoo!

cryptozooOct. 8, 2009 As we observe October as health month in multiple media iterations of kids’ mental and physical well-being, it’s fitting that I’ve been away covering the excitement at Health2.0 this week. What’s it all about?

To me, the Health2.0 conference is ideally a place where innovation technology collides with human needs in ambitious acceleration of fast-track thinking. Why do we need it? To hopscotch over the snail-crawl of public health ideation and use new media as a mass distribution channel for change. (for more, take a peek at their blog or follow the conversations on Twitter at #Health2Con)

Like my zealous enthusiasm for the youth focused SexTech Conference from ISIS (next slated for Feb. 26/27 2010 in S.F.) Health2.0 has some youth/teen deployment of cool uses for mobile, SMS reminders and apps, Texting4Health CDC co-ventures, exergames, Games for Health and pragmatic uses in virtual worlds that have left my brain neurons lit up like a pinball machine. Whew.

One example? This wacky, hands-on geolocation health game called CryptoZoo involves chasing gonzo critters through urban and edu-environs to seed physical activity in real world spaces creating a living lab of game play. TipTrees and Wobblelopes?  Ninja Rabbits and Batzees? “Cryptid Alert!” (video after the jump)

American Heart Association’s Kristi Miller Durazo put attendees themselves in a demo role to learn firsthand how this Institute for the Future collaboration works to get kids up, out and moving, appealing particularly to tweens 10-12…

cryptozoo logo

AHA’s downloadable Cryptid chase kit is free fun, and worth a shot at encouraging kids to enter ‘a secret world of strange and fast-moving creatures’ and get tweens moving.

Imagine “Cryptid alert, are you chasing them?” flashing on a public media billboard to attempt a viral ‘huh, what’s that’ curious George opportunity to join in the fun…

It kind of reminds me of the scavenger hunt youth art exhibit to teach kids about different styles and genres awhile back at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

KristiandtheNingaMy media spin? Leverage the popularity and buzz of Where the Wild Things Are’ using this public health experiential alternative to get kids outdoors and maybe even tie in an accelerometer device like the newly launched FitBit for an ‘at risk’ testing group for some hands-on obesity research.

The concept is a hoot when you visualize the ‘crowd engagement’ for family events, outdoor impromptu improv, collegiate team challenges, camp pathfinders with younger kids and all the viable transportation tie-ins and regional support that could be deployed for a festival of sorts to turn a town into a ‘cryptid city’ and such…(that’s Kristi with a Ninja Rabbit)

“Chasing the cryptids takes more than energy — it takes strategy! Each block is a unique running environment: challenging for some species, a natural habitat for others. Which species will the other team have to chase? You get to choose!”

Cryptozoo Teaser Trailer 2:14

Find more videos like this on CryptoZoo

“Anyone can run with the cryptids. You don’t have to be athletic, or coordinated. But you do need to be adventurous… and willing to sweat. Because you’re about to move faster — and weirder — than you thought possible.

“Once you’ve caught sight of the cryptids, you won’t be able to help yourself. There’s just something about those mysterious cryptids… they unlock the creature in all of us.”

There are evidently 5 ways to play, and you can “chase on your own, wherever you live. Just search the evidence, read the field reports, and add your trails to the map.”

Cryptozoo was created by game theorist and design guru Jane McGonigal as a “proof-of-concept game, a way for us to show what physical activity could (and we think, should) be like in the future: more fun, more social, and better integrated with our everyday lives.”

What d’ya think folks, will kids bite? Could this ‘go viral?’

gforceIn some ways Cryptozoo (the site says, “the cool kids pronounce it crypto ZOH-oh”) conjures visions of the recent Humana G-Force ‘OPS’ in the team-building species vs. species approach.

Both outdoor games are designed to get kids into the real world for game play using online to offline bridges…(even if it’s not ‘free form play’ and make believe at least it’s imaginative!) Both have a movie/media element, albeit a different approach. (Humana partnered with Disney, Cryptids are not ‘branded’ at all…)

Still, it’s interesting to note the whimsical wildness of the critters donning wire mesh masks of unidentifiable species origin. There are similarities with Sendak, as they’re not quite cuddly, not quite monster…just ‘wild’ and very imaginative. I’ll be anxious to hear how both innovation and ideation games pan out for them from a fitness perspective.


AHA’s Kristi sat down with me a bit after the presentation and I asked her about AHA’s other October health initiatives…This is a huge month for health observances, and AHA is ‘on it’  for health literacy.

They have a level-based training for life skills to take action and clue into Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness month, Wii tournaments and gaming components to engage every age and stage, and the big thematic splash for seasonal sports involves the NFL Rush tie-in with incentives to “Play 60” with tips and challenges to ‘get kids outside and moving’ and compete for SuperBowl prize opportunities. Kids can check out health games paired off by grade starting with PreK through grade 8 in AHA’s “What Moves You?” free game offerings too.


I was duly impressed with all of the Health2.0 speakers in the Gaming and Healthcare breakout session especially fascinated by Dr.  Belinda Lange from USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies who I’ll be covering tomorrow. She clearly confirmed many a hunch I’ve had on ways we can help kids via unexplored uses of virtual worlds…

Overall though, I must say, this year I was inspired more by the potential for team building using ‘best practices’ from public health visionaries like Pulse & Signal’s Andre Blackman, and other thought leaders in the Health2.0 realm like Dr. Jody Ranck more than the techno-tools, digital distribution gizmos or even cool games.

To me, the unique ability and wide reaching potential of ‘connecting the dots’ among people with complementary skills sets gives me goosebumps and inspiration beyond measure.

If you assemble the right Health 2.0 team to  conceptualize, deploy and scale concrete solutions using new media technology that kids can relate to in order to achieve public health purposes en masse? Well, let’s just say the potential for marketing hope (and health!) globally astounds…

It’s one of the core reasons “My Dinner with Andre” (and Sugar Stats’ Marston, HopePhones’ global health guru and FrontlineSMS pro Lucky, and McKesson Foundation’s Carrie, Jody Ranck, etc.) turned out to be a Health2.0 highlight beyond the conference itself! More on that soon too…

Here’s an interview with some of the thought leaders of the Cryptozoo game below, enjoy!

Cryptozoo Behind the Scenes w/Jane McGonigal: 5:43

Recent Health2.0 Coverage on Shaping Youth

Therapeutic Impact of Virtual Worlds

Virtual Healing: War Torn Teens Face Reality Post-Iraq

Kids Health 2.0: Get Your Head in the Game

In Bed w/Branding: Virtual Worlds Pair W/Childrens Hospitals

Consider This: Virtual Worlds in Institutional Settings

Wii Are Family: A French Look At A Global Gaming Phenom

Social Media/Health 2.0: Blame Drew’s Cancer

BlameAThon: Tweet Your Troubles to Fight Cancer

Mindless Eating Goes Mobile: Health Gamers Unite

Media, Misinformation & Unhealthy Spin: Time Magazine

Playnormous Health Edu-Games Offer FREE Monster iMacs!

healthGAMERS: Newly Launched Hub for Serious Gaming

healthGAMERS: Pt. 2 Interview w/Melanie Lazarus

Top Ten Sex Ed Videos, By Kids For Kids: SexTech/DoGooderTV

Hey Kids, Is There A Market for Healthy Games?

Games for Health Regional Summit

A Wellness Media Mashup +3 Network



  1. Greg Pratt says

    Cryptid fans should check out the premiere of MONSTERS UNDERGROUND on Destination America on Friday, August 22nd at 10/9c.  
    The first episode will follow a team of four hunters into Volcano Caverns in Flagstaff, Arizona, as they search for the reptilian/bat “cave demon” known as the Olitiau.
    Future episodes will explore the dangerous caves of the American Southwest in search of cryptids including the Aswang, Mapinguari, Subterralien, and more.

    Check out a preview of MONSTERS UNDERGROUND here:

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