Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Get Closer to Nature and Health with Wellbeing App

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Get Closer to Nature and Health with Wellbeing App

Article excerpt

Byline: John Hill

AFEW minutes after leaving work, you're sitting on a bench at your nearest Metro stop, staring at a small screen and tending Venus Fly Traps with the help of an ancient magic tree. Is this the way to a healthier you? It might not be the most efficient route to a rock-hard six-pack, but Northumberland health business the You Company hopes it will plant the seed of healthiness in the average crumpled commuter.

The company was set up in 2007 to market a collection of medical devices to monitor health, such as blood pressure and body composition tests and urine dipsticks. Its latest tool is the lure of the world of social media.

The Garden of Life is an iPhone app created by North East developers Fluid Pixel and Darling Dash with project management from Codeworks Dev.

It challenges you to re-establish flora on a planet floating in space with guidance from a magic tree called Yuko, and builds on a tradition of "godfinger" games ranging from Sim City to Civilisation. Social media users have also taken games like Farmville to their hearts, with 30 million farms popping up so far.

The Garden of Life is already developing a following since arriving on the App Store at the end of last month, with more than 5,000 downloads and particular interest in the USA and among female gamers. Tim Allison of Darling Dash said: "It's a relaxing game, and not too hectic and demanding.

"Godfinger games are always quite popular, and something like Farmville has gone further by tapping into the social gaming market.

"In the Garden of Life, you're able to upload your achievements to your social network, such as the dedicated gardener badge, and show them off to your friends and family. Yuko will engage with you and in reward for planting seeds and harvesting, you can unlock more intriguing things like the Venus Fly Trap.

"The ability to do multiplayer is something we're looking at down the line, to have five or six people look after a garden and share the rewards."

The idea of building a community loosely centred around wellbeing appeals to Stocksfield's the You Company, which largely operates through contracts with corporate clients. …

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