Mike Tinney, the former president of online games company CCP Games North America, is in the midst of launching a new startup, Fitness Interactive Experience.
The Atlanta-based company will launch its first fitness “gamification” title, UtiliFit, in a closed beta test in December and then it will start an open beta in January, Tinney said in an interview with GamesBeat.The title is part of a trend toward gamification, or using video game mechanics to motivate people to accomplish goals in non-game activities.
Advisors on the project include Time Church, a national expert on exercise and preventative medicine; Reynir Hardarsson – founder of CCP; and Monte Cook, a well-known game designer.
“They’ve signed on to help the company get its product started,” said Tinney, who started the company in March. “There is a huge opportunity in digital fitness to bring more gaming into it. It’s all about creating and maintaining healthy habits. So you can control what you are eating better and increase your physical activity.”
He added, “When you align your activity against goals, and do them time and time again, then you can achieve those goals. How quickly you achieve them depends on consistency and quality with which you do it. Video games have a unique intersection with that because they’re a very addictive activity. We’re trying to get people to do a mundane task again and again. Combining those two can be a game changer.”
The first game will be an activity-based game that helps people be less sedentary. It will encourage you to take small steps toward being more active. It will score you based on how well you do and rank you competitively against your friends, if you wish. You can also cooperate with your friends. It’s like a massively multiplayer online game meets cross-fit training, he said.
The company is targeting both gamers and non-gamers. The U.S. Department of Health recommends that people exercise 30 minutes a day five days a week. Only 3 percent of Americans actually do that.
“It’s a disturbing number of people who don’t do exercise,” he said. “We are making this app more accessible, and we are not limiting it to gamers. We’re seeing early traction in casual fitness and in the corporate wellness market.”
Tinney has a small team working so far, with three full-time employees and eight part-time. He is in the midst of raising money. The game will target web browsers via HTML5, the lingua franca for the web. Rivals include Striiv, Nike, and a number of other fitness gaming and exercise-tracking companies.
“We want to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible,” he said. “We’re trying to focus a lot more on game design.”
Tinney left CCP, publisher of Eve Online, earlier this year. Tinney has been directly involved in board and online gaming since 1993, when he was part of White Wolf Publishing. He managed White Wolf’s publishing and trading card game business. Iceland-based CCP Games (publisher of Eve Online) bought that company in 2006, and Tinney became the head of the company’s North American operations as well as some of CCP’s global operations.
This article originally appeared on VentureBeat