Generally speaking, we know what we should be doing. We know what’s good for us to do, but the challenge is finding the motivation to do it and to keep doing it. That’s why one of the fastest rising trends today is the concept of gamification. In short, gamification is the process of engaging users or changing behavior by utilizing the best ideas from games but in a non-game context. Gamification also borrows a lot of its knowledge base from behavioral economics.
For the most part, inspiration for gamificaton comes from the world of video games. In the context of a video game, we are constantly striving to reach that next level, earn that high score or unlock that next achievement. It’s motivation, because we get instant feedback, we can play with friends and it’s fun. The same principles we find in Tetris and Super Mario can be applied to the real world too, using gamification to improve our lives in very real way.
There are three main elements involved with the Nike+ FuelBand. First, there’s the wristband itself that you wear. Using its “sports-tested accelerometer,” the FuelBand will then track your movement in units it calls NikeFuel. This quantifies your daily activity, not unlike earning points in a game. Second, you can set your NikeFuel daily goal and work to achieve it each day. Third, you can sync with the Nike+ FuelBand app on your phone to see your history and stay motivated. There’s also the social aspect, as you can connect with friends.
In this way, the Nike+ FuelBand goes beyond your conventional gym routine to monitor the entirety of your daily activity. And by turning it all into a game, Nike provides you with real motivation that can provide real fitness results. Nike isn’t the only option either with products like the Fitbit and Jawbone UP competing in the same space.
We wrote about HabitRPG before, but it’s definitely worth bringing up again. HabitRPG is a browser-based tool where you enter all the things you want to get accomplished. There are habits, dailies, and items on the to-do list. Where HabitRPG goes further is that you also get a video game-like character who earns experience points and virtual currency when you complete those items on your to-do list or successfully complete the daily activities you set out to do. You can then spend the currency on virtual items for your avatar, like new armor and even pets. When you neglect your tasks, your character loses health and, if you lose too much health, your character dies and you start over. There’s also the social element, so you can see the current level and upgrades associated with your friends’ avatars.
There are tons of agile project management tools out there to help your team be more effective at what they do, but RedCritter Tracker goes further by gamifying the whole thing. It’s in line with other agile project management utilities in that it’s geared toward software development, but here team members can earn badges and reward points, the latter of which can then be redeemed for goodies in your rewards store. Think of this like the “gold star” system you may have had in school, cashing in those gold stars for something from the treasure chest…except, these are adult programmers who are motivated by a Starbucks gift card and virtual badges on their online profiles.
Have you ever wanted to learn a new language but found conventional textbooks to be far too boring? DuoLingo takes an interesting approach in that the language lessons are free and you are actively translating real content from the web to learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, or Italian. They make money, because companies are paying them to crowdsource the translation of their online content. Translation material is provided based on your current skill level and you make your way through a skill tree, unlocking new challenges along the way. You lose hearts for incorrect answers and level up when you do well.
Image credit: gaelx / Flickr