Gaming, For Life

I’m an innately competitive person.  Whether that has to do with growing up playing almost every sport imaginable or just loving the gamification of life, I’m not really sure… But sometimes I find it next to impossible to contain myself.

This is a trend to which many can relate. Everyone has played some version of the “time game.” You know, where you feel like you’ve been working for hours, you guess the time, only to be immediately devastated when you learn that your guess was at least an hour ahead of reality. Or when you’re using a GPS and do everything in your power to beat your estimated time of arrival.

For some reason, everyday tasks just feel so much more fun and rewarding when you turn them into a little competition.

So how can we translate this practice into our lives for us to become the “best version of ourselves?” According to TED speaker Jane McGonigal, “we feel as if we are not as good in reality, as we are in games,” so we should try to find ways to make the real world function more like a game.

Hundreds of apps have picked up on a similar theory. Coupled with geofencing, users can earn points for visiting new locations, redeem rewards and advance to different levels just like they can do in most games.

Websites like Lumosity also follow this premise, going as far as stating that you can actually “train your brain” with games, and become faster at everyday tasks and retain more information.

So how can you get away with applying similar gamification to other aspects of your life, particularly the workplace?

It’s not like you can take bets on how long your weekly client call will last, or how many times your boss will throw around industry jargon in a presentation. Many question the ethics and legality of office pools and similar activities as it is, even in the most innocent of circumstances.

Furthermore, when office “games” are an effort from HR to encourage teamwork and bonding, they usually end up being more of a pain than pleasure to participate in.

Playing games, says McGonigal, boosts four types of resilience: physical, mental, emotional, and social — which are all needed in our personal and work lives. So if the science behind it is right, then we really should be making the everyday tasks of life into games to make a better world, and a better you. Let the games begin!