Have you given up and forgotten about your New Year’s resolutions? Need some motivation to do those dishes? What if you could turn your most unfun activities into a game, with points, levels, and rewards? Welcome to the world of gamification.
The word “gamification” refers generally to the process of applying game design ideas to non-game activities. If you’ve ever used Foursquare, you know the idea: you use the app to check into a real-world location and earn points and badges. But that sort of experience isn’t just for social networking – it can also help you achieve your goals. Here are a few of the most recommended sites for gamifying your life.
A site that has been widely recognized by mainstream media, Fitocracy allows users to log and track their exercise accomplishments. You can choose from a wide range of workouts, like weight lifting, running, and stretches; the site categorizes exercises by body part and difficulty so you can find the workout you want. If you need help putting together a workout routine, you can accept quests – preplanned routines that increase in difficulty as you go along. All completed workouts or quests give you points, and you can earn achievements and track other users’ progress. Fitocracy is still invite-only for now, but all you need to do to request an invite is enter your email.
A great choice for parents with kids who don’t want to help with the housework. Chore Wars has the trappings of a traditional fantasy RPG: you create a character with the classic D&D traits, and can form a party with people in your household, with one dungeon master. The DM sets out chore quests for the party to accomplish. You choose the chore and the amount of XP given for completing it, and how many party members are allowed to claim the XP reward. The characters can level up and earn virtual money and prizes, thus turning any ordinary chore into a competition. If the DM likes, he or she can promote a character to “henchling” so they can assign quests too. As the user testimonials show, kids love it when they get to upstage their siblings, no matter how.
This site offers to help you with any personal goal you might have. It encourages you to break down your goals into small, concrete steps as you add them, so that it can track you with a progress chart and so that you can accomplish them more easily. You can add deadlines that the site will display prominently to motivate you. Other Wishbomb users and your Facebook friends can become your supporters, meaning they can look at your goals and offer you tips. You can even make it a wager with the myWord feature: pledge something that you will give up if you fail to accomplish the goal, and your supporters will hold you up to it. Though not as overtly game-y as some other sites, Wishbomb includes all that you need to turn your goals into a level grind.
These sites work on the idea that people like to have a clear, immediate motivation for completing a task. Studies have shown that breaking a large task into smaller, daily tasks is one of the best ways to tackle a large problem. If your goal is “lose weight” then you probably will fail because you don’t know where to start; if your goal is “get the 30 Pounds Lost achievement in Fitocracy”, you’ll have a better chance. The social aspect is also important – having friends supporting you leads to better confidence in yourself. So the next time you have something you really should get around to doing, remember that the internet has your back, if you’re willing to track yourself.
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