On the flight to Durham the next morning, I began compiling the early results. Perched in the third row, cocktail napkin on my knee, I tabulated my scores from EpicWin and the gamification site Chore Wars, where I had created a profile the evening before. Chore Wars, like EpicWin, takes its design cues from the world of role-playing games—the player chooses an avatar and, by completing certain errands in the real world, obtains points. I had decided to use Chore Wars to gamify three household tasks: washing the dishes, taking out the recycling, and paying my bills. In the name of consistency, I chose a vampire avatar, whose pale skin reminded me of Calcium Facebone. Before leaving for the airport that morning, I scrubbed a plate from the night before and hauled a trash bag to the curb. Together the chores were worth 70 experience points and 19 pieces of gold. I wasn't sure what the exchange rate with my gold coins from EpicWin was, but the feedback felt good.
On the long taxi to the gate, I turned on my iPhone and opened another app that I had downloaded the previous night, Foursquare. Using the free app, gamers "check in" at restaurants, stores and public spaces to earn points and badges. Foursquare had determined my location in disturbing detail, down to the gate number. I clicked through the check-in screen and, with a few finger taps, racked up a string of points as well as a Newbie badge. It felt good. The app was remarkably easy. Unlike Chore Wars or EpicWin, both of which require lengthy, detailed updates, Foursquare updates itself with location data. To play, users need only press a button.
As Kevin Slavin, a game designer and consultant, explained to me, in the future, the best gamification apps will probably be the most unobtrusive, the most organically integrated into our physical lives. Whereas conventional videogames immerse you in a manufactured experience, a good gamification app should keep you centered in the real world while subtly applying various game mechanics. Slavin suggested as a rough analog the air-conditioning controls on a modern car. "A car designer would want the dials to be something you only partly think about, because if it's difficult, you'll stop thinking about driving. In a way, you're trying to make it invisible.
After getting off the plane, I met Katie downstairs, where I immediately checked in at the airport coffee shop. "Five points!" I said. "How thrilling," she said. We drove to get a sandwich. I checked in at the restaurant. We stopped by Target to pick up a few things, and before walking through the sliding doors, I again checked in. We drove to Katie's house, and I checked in there too. I began to imagine the world as a digitized quilt of interconnected landmarks. Points were all around. Everywhere I went, I held my smartphone in front of me like a brightly glowing compass. Foursquare had challenged me to collect 50 points in a week. I beat that before the end of the day.
During my visit to Playmatics, Fortugno and Wallace had suggested that even my love life could be subject to gamification. Plenty of dating sites use gamification elements—OkCupid, for instance, keeps a tally of how many people view your profile, and rewards you with more potential matches as you answer more questions about yourself. But since I'm engaged, the Playmatics team helped me design a game better suited to my relationship status. The interface was an index card.
"Build a Better Fiancé" would take place over two days, or levels. I would "win" by racking up 10 points on the first day and 15 on the second; fail to reach the goal, and I would have to start the level over. I could earn points for logging achievements in five categories, all of them devised by Katie: compliments, cleaning up, public displays of affection, interacting with her family and friends, and anticipating what she would want before she wanted it. I would gamify myself into a stronger and more intimate relationship. For the purpose of recording my score, I gave Katie the index card, which she was to carry everywhere she went.
Level One went poorly. I took a shower and left the floor littered with shampoo and body-wash bottles (it looked, Katie said, "as if you were having a yard sale in there"). I was planning on surprising her by volunteering to walk the dog, but I was still busy updating my Chore Wars progress when she headed out the door, pooch in tow. "Minus one point!" she said. Fortunately, I had designed the game with no minuses.
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. I had cleaned the dishes that day, and I received some gold points and a level up. But, I reasoned, those dishes should also count toward my goal in the Better Fiancé game. "Fine," Katie said. "One point." I leaned across the table and kissed her cheek, earning me another point.
But when we returned home, I took a look at the index card and realized that I was still three points short of my goal. I thought about pulling out a last-minute romantic gesture, but what I really wanted to do was sit in bed and watch Netflix. "Fail," Katie said after she had tallied my score for herself. "Luckily, you have more lives."
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?