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Client: Lister

Did you know that people with severe mental illness die an average of 10 to 25 years earlier than healthy people? For Lister (a recovery support organization for people with mental illness) and UMC Utrecht, we developed Mūva, an app that helps people exercise daily. Exercise is vital for mental patients.

Daily motivation to exercise

Due to their illness and medication, people with complex mental illness are less motivated to exercise. Therefore, the assignment for this project was to develop a game that motivates people to exercise on a daily basis.

Together you will get further

In Mūva, everyone can set their own goals, making it possible for clients and counselors to play the game together, each at their own level. This creates a win-win situation, as both clients and counselors are thus motivated to exercise more. In addition, the coaches have a good tool to discuss the daily exercise with the client.

If… then… , other than….

Goals are drafted in the ‘if… then…. ‘ form. This is a commonly used method to teach a new behavior in a simple way. Especially for this target group, we also developed the ‘other than…’ option. The analysis research had shown how difficult it can sometimes be for clients to carry out their goals. To give them a feeling of success, they can add a small ‘different from…’ to their goal. For example If I have lunch then I go for a walk, otherwise I go out on the balcony for a while.

Building a city

After the goals are set, players are reminded of their goal each day. By specifying their progress, they can earn different houses that make up a city. In addition, the player can also specify which weather type suits their feelings about the day.

In a subtle way, you as a player are creating a graph showing the effect of movement on your state of mind.

Reward, even when things don’t go well for a while

Players begin the game as a rickshaw driver with the goal of becoming a sultan. By participating in the game, points can be earned. But what is perhaps even more important is that points can also be earned if a player does not participate in the game for a while. For example, players receive a reward if they have not opened the app for a week. Because at that very moment we wanted to give players a warm welcome again.

Evidence based design

By talking a lot with the target group and experts, and testing prototypes with the target group every time, we developed a game that meets the needs of the target group.


Starting in March 2021, Mūva will be used in a research project at Lister in which 150 clients and their supervisors will work with the game.