ProdPod: Episode 93: Gamification and Your Productivity

Reading Time (est.): 2 minutes

A gamified life. For the productivity and technology geek that I am, it sounds like a pretty cool existence to infuse gamification into many aspects. I’d get to live the superhero lifestyle (minus the superpower-enabling lab experiment gone wrong) I should’ve been living all along. But can I live a truly gamified life? Over the past several years, that is something I have sought to find out, and here’s what I’ve learned.

As best as I understand, life is a game. You start as a novice at living, then you gain some skills, experience and recognition along the way, support in the form of spouses, friends and colleagues, and reach new levels of the game throughout life. For me, winning at the game of life is in the joyful moments experienced when your hard work pays off, when you get to spend stress-free time with your family, loved ones and friends, work on a challenging project and complete it, and know you’ve left a worthy legacy for which to be remembered.

Gamification, or the concept of using game-like components to motivate activities through enjoyment, is a complex framework of setting achievement levels, incorporating a community for competition and support, and an appropriate reward system to reinforce gains, or minimize losses.

As the lusory attitude requires fictional, less efficient rules, for the purposes of game play, I understand that there are purely-play games and then there is the more important game of real life. And so, with life, trivial point systems are also not enough. If they are, you actually don’t need them. Those who can truly benefit from gamification through point systems need it to be public so they can get social recognition (without the social disapprobation for not completing an activity).

An example of a well-executed gamified app is DuoLingo, the language learning software available on the Web, Android and iOS. Some other apps that I think are doing gamification well are SuperBetter, Habitica, and Chore Wars.

For me, I need real rewards in my gamified, real life. If I achieve X then I give myself Y. Though completely conjecture from circumstantial and anecdotal evidence, these extrinsic rewards are the equivalent of intrinsic motivation’s dopamine releases for the 21st century.

So, I don’t get to live exactly the superhero lifestyle I want. But, I do get to live a responsibly gamified lifestyle and for that, I’m more productive.