The next phase of the experiment was to determine if gamification could improve my health, so the next morning Katie and I went to a sporting-goods store in Durham to buy equipment for Nike+, a fitness-tracking system in which runners monitor and gamify their daily workouts. The Nike+ apparatus is simple. A small accelerometer, slotted in the sole of a Nike shoe, transmits speed and distance data to an iPod, a Nike watch or a rubber bracelet containing a USB drive.
I opted for a pair of Air Max shoes ($90) and the bracelet, called the SportBand ($59). Once my run was finished, the sales clerk explained, I could snap the USB drive off the SportBand and upload the data from my run to my laptop. That data, in turn, would help me set weekly and monthly goals, compete against millions of other Nike+ users, and isolate my "problem areas." I had no shortage of those. I run badly, and usually in a great deal of pain. And yet here, in the soft rubber of the SportBand, was a simple promise: With a little time, my regular death marches might become something I would actually enjoy.
Back at home, I calibrated my stride, set a couple of initial goals—I wanted to run 15 miles in the next three days, and I wanted to break nine-minute miles—and created my avatar, which this time I designed to look like myself. I gave him blond hair, dressed him in a white sweatshirt, and put a very small SportBand on his wrist.
I ran out the front door and through the gates at the foot of the trail (five points on Foursquare, plus a bonus for my first trail visit). The run itself was full of the usual pangs of self-pity and breathlessness. It seemed to last for days. But later, when I brought up the data on my laptop, I was surprised to find that I had somehow managed to run one of the five miles in six minutes and 49 seconds (it was downhill). I felt as if I had completed a particularly tricky sequence in a videogame. Even though it was only my first run, it was as though I had beaten the boss and was now watching the credits cascade across the screen.
That whole week, I had not been sleeping particularly well. Fortugno and Wallace had suggested that improving my sleeping habits, too, could be a part of the experiment. Since no custom-built sleep gamification apps existed, I decided to try SuperBetter, an adventure-themed game created by Jane McGonigal, that can be customized to help users accomplish their individual goals.
The premise of SuperBetter, according to its website, was to increase my "personal resilience," in this case by clearly delineating my objective and outlining an incentive-laden path to hours of blissful sleep. I set a reasonable-sounding goal of six hours a night, named my "bad guys" (such as work and stress), and chose a few "power-ups" (hot tea, videogames and bourbon). I was then given a series of "missions," the first of which involved sleeping a full seven hours. That night, I would record the number of power-ups I was using, and the next morning, I would log the number of hours I slept. The more active I stayed in the game, the more my resilience score would go up. If I managed to sleep enough, I would earn additional points, unlock achievement badges, and level-up to the next mission: to sleep some more.
In the meantime, I took another jog, besting the times I'd set the day before. When I got home, I showered, careful to place all the shampoo bottles back in the caddy, and dashed upstairs to take out the recycling and let the dog out the backdoor, all before Katie had said a word. "Four points," she smiled. I gave her a hug. "You look beautiful," I said. "Two points," she said.
That evening, we checked in at a movie theater that was running a special incentive program for Foursquare users—those who had checked in at the theater three separate times earned a free bag of popcorn. Earlier in the day, I had spoken with Brian Wong, a young entrepreneur in California who helps corporations use their products as rewards in game apps, about these kinds of promotions. "People are naturally goal-driven," Wong said. "If they're just aiming for a bunch of points, it might not matter much. But if they're aiming for real things, real rewards, that's something different altogether."
Alas, I had checked into this particular theater only once, so I had to pay for the popcorn out of pocket. I also bought the drinks and candy, however, held open the doors, and switched seats with Katie when she had trouble seeing the screen. By the time the movie was over, the Building a Better Fiancé index card read 20 points. I had beaten the level.
As we got ready for bed—I logged my hot tea and bourbon power-ups on SuperBetter—I told Katie that she looked especially lovely tonight, in those red sweatpants. "Now I feel like you're just doing it for the points," she said.
Yeah, It will be fascinating to treat your own life as a interactive games except you cannot come back change your level or your own action. Life will stay like that. The good thing is that you are more interactive.
"...a stronger and more intimate relationship."
"That night, we went out to dinner. At the restaurant I checked in using Foursquare and then clicked over to my mobile browser to play Chore Wars."
Your an idiot and I hope Katie dumps you and finds someone that likes to deal with real life not play games....
didnt really read the article but i decided to check out this epicwin thing, all it is is some to do list maker with achivements for nothing. Is it a game, is it a list maker or (a more sensable choice) is it just a waste of my time?