how to gamify your life

How to Gamify Your Life

Learn How to Apply the Process of Gamification to Your Life and Discover the Secret to Leveling Up

So you want to learn how to gamify your life.

First, let’s define what gamification is. It is the process of adding elements of gaming to something. Elements such as earning points, recruiting allies and earning achievements. And of course, leveling up! Because what would be the point of gamifying something if you did not utilize the strategy to improve or enhance the experience of it in some way?

If you want to learn how to gamify your life, think about what elements of gaming are the most rewarding. I don’t know about you, but leveling up my character was probably just as satisfying, if not more so, than actually doing well or even beating games.

How can you incorporate this into your life? Well, the first aspect would be to set goals or quests for yourself. What is something you want to achieve? How can you gamify the process of accomplishing it? The number one element of gaming that is probably the most effective strategy to gamify your life is rewarding yourself when you achieve something.

For instance, let’s say you set a goal to get a new job, one that you enjoy. Maybe your reward for this goal is that you will take a trip somewhere or do something fun, like going to a concert or maybe a movie, if you’re seeking something a little more frugal.

My first financial goal was to have $3,000 in a savings account. I told myself that when I achieved it I would go up into the Space Needle as a way to reward myself for it. I live in Washington state, but I told myself I wouldn’t go up in the Space Needle until I achieved this goal. Every day I would imagine myself logging into my savings account and seeing $3,000.

When I achieved it, I followed through! The most important promises to keep are the ones you make with yourself. Letting other people down clearly does not feel good. But letting yourself down will take the wind right out of your sails. Having integrity not only means sticking to your word but also holding yourself accountable to your own goals and dreams.

C.S. Lewis said:

“Having integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

“When no one is watching” might even mean that no one else will ever know about it. But you will. What are the things you do on a daily basis that no one knows about? Do you feel good about these things? I am not trying to bring up your deep dark secrets here, although if those are being triggered right now, you might want to take a look at that.

All I am trying to do is get you to take a look at yourself and to think about why you do the things that you do and how they make you feel. If you do not feel good about the things you do when you’re alone, maybe it’s time to make a change.

A Brief History of Gamification

The very first instance of gamification in recorded history was in 1896 when S&H Green Stamps were sold to retailers and used to reward loyal customers. Then, in 1908 The Boy Scouts of America invented their badge system to recognize the achievements of acquiring skills. When I first read this it blew my mind. I was a Boy Scout and I didn’t even think about this being an example of gamifying life!

To jump forward, in 1996 (100 years after conception) Richard Bartle posits the question Who Plays MUAs? MUA stands for multi-user adventures. He conceptualized four different gamer types based on how they play these types of games: achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers.

Here is a graph for reference:


Achievers set and chase goals, they want the points, the treasure, the achievements, and, of course, they want to level up. While exploring and socializing may be requirements to expand their dominance, their truest trajectory is onward and upward.

Explorers want to make complete maps and figure out how things work. Scoring points and interacting may be necessary for the next level of exploration, but their aim is to discover things.

Socializers aim to interact with other people in the game.  Some level of earning points and exploring may be required to gain a certain status, but to them, the game is merely seen as a platform where players interact.

Most Killers live to wreak havoc but some in the players/active quadrant get their kicks from helping others. Point scoring and exploring are usually required to get to an appropriate level for tasks, but most killers thrive knowing that someone out there is very disturbed by their actions. The term troll comes to mind.

What kind of player are you? Perhaps you see aspects of yourself in each of the payer types? I know I do. Understanding how you play games can give you insight into who you are outside of the game and how you can more effectively gamify your life.

Anyway, let’s jump forward again. In 2002 Nick Pelling coined the term gamification. And the rest is history. Or it is? If you want to learn more about the timeline of gamification, check out this article by John Shannon.

Ok, now for our final jump. In 2018 Mark Rober gave a TED Talk called The Super Mario Effect, in which he describes his research regarding gamification.

The basic premise of his research is that gamifying something actives the reward circuit in the brain so that our intrinsic motivation to do it is operating, rather than the attitude of persevering in the face of a natural desire to give up. To illustrate this, he provides a thought experiment:

Imagine that you had to take a test in which you were given a layout of six buttons and you had to press them in a specific order and sequence for an hour. For example:

  • Press button 1 for three seconds
  • Then press button 3 for one second.
  • Next, while holding button 2 for six seconds, press button 5 twice.

Now, imagine that the buttons and the instructions looked like this instead:

how to gamify your life

Notice that the output is the exact same, but now that the instructions are delivered to you in a different manner, how motivated are you to take the test?

How Gamification Can Change the World

You might be skeptical of how gamification can change the world. But let me give you some real examples of how it already has.

First off, let’s talk about how gamers outdid scientists at the University of Washington, where they spent ten years trying to map out an effective model of an enzyme so they could develop a retroviral drug. The scientists then recruited players of a protein folding game called Fold-it.

The gamers solved their problem in three weeks.

I’ll repeat that for those who didn’t catch it. Scientists spent an entire decade trying to solve a problem that gamers solved in three weeks. Here is a link to the article on the University of Washington’s website called Gamers Succeed Where Scientists Fail.

Don’t believe it can change the world yet? Let’s talk about Jane McGonigal. Jane is a game designer who studies the effects of gaming in real-world applications. She is also the survivor of a head injury that left her feeling suicidal.

After the doctors told her that they couldn’t help her anymore, she created Superbetter.

Superbetter is a game in which she recruited allies and set quests for herself in order to recover from the migraines, brain fog, and suicidal thoughts. And she did. She is also one of the most prominent thought leaders in the field of gamification. And she has created games that aim to tackle some of our most troubling glocal issues such as climate change and extinction.

Gamify Your Life to Level Up

Before we talk about how to gamify life and level up, let’s talk about the elements of gamifying that are the most effective in life. First on the list is accountability. When you recruit allies, you all become accountable to each other, which is the next best thing to having a coach or mentor to guide you through something. 

Next is a reward system. When you measure your progress by gaining points and achievements, and then rewarding yourself when you accomplish those achievements, it motivates you to keep going when the going gets tough. Think about when you’re playing a video game and dying or failing just gives you that much more motivation to try again and do better the next time. What if you could bring that passion and that resilience into your real life?

The third element of gaming that can be used to gamify is leveling up. This is where you track your progress and plan ahead to continue your growth. Think of how in a video game you keep going so you can earn enough experience to unlock that next skill or enter that new area. Are you seeing how the four gamer types above are coming into play now?

The ultimate goal of gamifying your life is to improve yourself, is it not? Well, getting to know yourself is one of the best ways to improve yourself, so as you study gamification strategies, you will inevitably learn about yourself in the process, which will subsequently help you develop your skills and improve the overall quality of your life.

To learn more about how to gamify your life, click the link below to check out Titan Mode, one of our premium courses here at Olydemy.

If you want to learn how to implement the strategies above and more, Titan Mode is for you. It will teach you how to level up in the game of life and how to activate the cheat codes. Click below to learn more.

May your games be fun and your life fulfilling.