The concept of a gameful life can be a little difficult to wrap your head around. If you’ve read anything by Jane McGonigal you might know what I’m talking about. The idea is simple enough, utilize game mechanics and game thinking to motivate, engage and be more productive. Ultimately the goal is to be happier.
The thing is that games make us feel more important, more powerful and they give us purpose. In World of Warcraft, we are on a dedicated quest to defeat the Lich King. We are given powers beyond our belief to do so and we put hours of work into the quest. In Super Mario, our beloved princess is taken captive by an evil… dragon… turtle… thingy. We slaughter our enemies using fireballs and stars and we progress through the levels on an epic quest to save our princess.
In reality, we don’t often have the control that we have in games, or the power, or the purpose. The idea is that you can take control, give yourself purpose and ultimately feel powerful by surrounding yourself with the mechanics that you enjoy.
One example is my father: He likes to spend his time and money tearing things down and building them up. He frequents Kijiji looking for free stuff and often drags my brother and I around to lug a new piece of junk home. I couldn’t wrap my head why he likes putting in these resources (time, money, effort) into these projects. Until recently…
In game’s we are given items that help us further progress in the game. They help us to achieve our goal or quest and we end up doing something epic. Progression itself can be rather addictive and so can the feeling of doing something bigger than yourself. My father is addicted to item management, progression and epic scale which is the game that he plays every day in real life. Resource management allows him to strategize as to how best build a shed or fix a counter top. Working on it daily leads to progression while the final product is a monumental achievement itself that benefits the whole household.
The gameful life is all about setting goals and creating a purpose for yourself while building around the mechanics that you intrinsically enjoy. The purpose you create in life gives you direction. Direction itself, allows you to create progression for yourself by working towards that purpose. You will only progress if you engage in mechanics that you actually enjoy for no other reason that you just simply enjoy them. In other words, you enjoy them not for money or for praise but simply because they just make you happy; Such as my father his work around the house.
When you think about the games that you play or the things that you enjoy, ask yourself: “What is it about these things that I enjoy?”. They are most likely the mechanics that you find addictive and fun. Surround yourself with these mechanics in work, school and personal projects and they will no longer be hard work, they will be a game.