How To Gamify Your Life

Cycling gamified

As a co-founder in the first gaming accelerator in Europe, I’m constantly looking for ways to apply the stuff I see and learn at GameFounders. One of the really cool things to do is to find ways to bring more meaning into my daily life and doings. How to do that? Gamify!

The thing is, nothing has to be boring. Everything you do can be turned into a game. The only question is how to do it.

Through trial and error I’ve made two main discoveries:

1. Pretty much everything can be interesting when you put your mind into it. This means, do not make the action automatic, instead concentrate while doing it and try to find ways to make it better and better each time.

2. The “gamification layer” should not be built on the action, but in it. I’ve discovered that the “traditional” methods of awarding myself with badges, levels and achievements does not really work for me. (I have studied spanish 10 hour this month, thus earned a badge “Spanish enthusiast”. So what?!) I find the added motivation only if there is some meaning in the system.

Take cycling, for example. My weakest discipline in triathlon is something that needs a lot of hours of input in order to become better. Since it is so time-consuming, I really only do cycling at weekends. Even then, I do my regular 45 km loop. Well, that’s what I used to do, until I figured out a clever way to bring more meaning into my bike trainings. I bought a map of 4 counties near Tartu and now when I go riding, I always pick a loop where I go through some road I have not cycled yet. This means that every time I figure out a new loop and I see new places. The most satisfying part of the system is after each ride when I draw the covered track on the map. The result? When my weekend rides used to be 40-50 km long, they now tend to be 80+ km long. 60%+ improvement. Pretty impressive, or what!!

Another example is learning Spanish. Again I discovered quite early that going through the workbooks, reading boring texts and  doing those meaningless excercises was not for me. I could do it for couple of weeks and then be too bored to do it on constant basis. I had to figure out something to make the studying process effortless and interesting. Enter football. I love football but almost never have time to watch it. I read the reviews and news instead. So I decided to unite learning spanish and being updated with football and started reading football news exclusively on Marca. Every couple of days I take an hour to go through news (football, chess and other sports) there and also maintain my spanish by doing that. There are side effects, btw. La Liga is much more interesting for me now than Premier League.:)

Whatever you do, there’s something in there that could be gamified, I assure you. Take the time and figure out what it is. You don’t have much to lose, but a lot to win. Life is a game. Play it hard!

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