One commonality that binds us all is our endless pursuit of happiness. What “happy” means to one person surely differs from that of another. There is no single path to being happy and the road to a more fulfilling and joyous life is different for each and every person on the planet.

So what do video games have to do with happiness? Well, the truth is, it is what goes into creating the video games – the methods and techniques that hook users – that can be applied to real-world experiences that can dramatically impact your lifestyle and levels of happiness.

Welcome to the world of lifestyle gamification.

Yu-kai Chou is a gamification expert and the author of Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. Chou claims that “many students who neglect school and get in trouble all the time aren’t like that because they are dumb or dislike learning – they just don’t see the purpose of learning the subjects that are taught in class.” This very same logic can spread beyond the classroom and has no age limit.

Video games are much more than just stunning visuals and quality voice over work. Psychological traits possessed by all people are taken into account when creating video games. By touching on the eight core drives of gamification, Chou is able to brilliantly explain his theory of Octalysis, an in-depth framework that describes the different motivators humans share that can be influenced by gamification.

By applying gamification techniques and tweaking the approach taken to achieving certain goals and aspirations, people can find the focus that has slipped from their grasp.

The power of gamification and your diet

Gamification can change the way you eat. By doing so, it can change the way you feel and ultimately, how you live.

Games are addicting for a reason. Games like Angry Birds and Temple Run leave players feeling like they must continue to get to the next level or break their previous high score. This comes at the risk of going to bed later than they had planned or putting off doing homework until the last minute.

Applying similar gamification techniques to your diet can be engaging enough for you to stay on track. Trying to stick to a strict regimen can be a daunting experience if you are looking to lose weight or eat healthily. The Paleo App is a great example of using gaming techniques to train folks to change habits for the better.

How does the Paleo App use gamification with its users? Being able to track your progress is a great start. This is where technology comes in handy. In the past, it would have been seen as strange and even discouraging for you to walk around with a notebook to track the intake of all food and beverage. Now that everyone is constantly buried in their phones, those close by will never suspect that one is cataloging their lunch – a concept that might be embarrassing to those starting off on their quest to weight loss.

Paleo also makes it so users receive rewards for small milestones. This breaks down larger goals into manageable steps that are less overwhelming and way more achievable – especially for those who are starting off and are more vulnerable when it comes to becoming derailed.

The work life

SAP is a German multinational software corporation that is worth billions. They serve customers in almost every country on the planet and employ over 70,000 employees. While they had already found tremendous success, they were struggling to engage their community.

Laure Cetin, SAP’s community manager, decided to implement some gamification strategies into the SAP Community Network (SCN) to see if boosting participation and engagement would be possible.

Cetin said that by “using gamification and particularly the concept of missions (a series of actions needed to receive a badge and points), we wanted to encourage members to log in regularly, provide feedback, contribute quality content regularly and be recognized as topic experts and influencers.”

Just one short month after applying some of these strategies, community feedback had spike by nearly 100% and the overall action within the company’s social network had risen an astonishing 400%. Cetin’s intuition was right, and SCN grew to the point where it is receiving millions of hits per month.

Gamify your exercise routine

Like maintaining a healthy diet, many people struggle with staying on course when it comes to exercise.

According to a survey conducted by Nielsen, the most common New Year’s resolution in 2015 was staying fit and healthy. People binge throughout the holiday season knowing that just around the corner comes a clean slate, a fresh new start where they will eat less and exercise more. Sure, the gym might be packed throughout the month of January, but it will clear out quickly as the days go by.

People have a very hard time staying motivated without seeing results quickly. But now there are many apps out there that reward users on their journey to getting in shape.

The Telegraph reported on Zombies, Run – a top-selling fitness game available. By putting runners into the shoes of people escaping Zombies, they feel more connected to their workout and are more likely to run more frequently. Instead of running on a treadmill listening to music, you are dropped into a chaotic, Hollywood-like film that will whip you into shape. When the zombies get close, you have to run like mad – interval training at its finest!

Adrian Hon, the creator of Zombies, Run, told The Telegraph that “a lot of people find exercise to be boring and repetitive, even with music. [Our app] can make running more exciting by putting you into a fictional world where you running really matters – so on a rainy Sunday morning, you’ll still be motivated to get up and run.”

Ability to learn new things

Back in the day, learning something complex like a new language was a formidable task. While learning a new tongue still takes an incredible amount of time, dedication, and perseverance, the process – when married with gamification techniques – can be a lot more fun for the users.

Duolingo is the perfect example of gamified language learning and is now helping teach new languages to over 100 million people. Not only does Duolingo help make learning a new language fun, but it is helping translate the Web in the process.

According to Yu-kai Chou, the gamification of language learning is more effective with Duolingo because “as students learn a language, they earn skill points when lessons are completed or web content is translated. Lessons associated with a skill are successively completed when a given number of translations are completed. Since web content is inherently more interesting than “made up” sentences, the translation assignments are more engaging.”

Final thoughts

Gamification can be applied to numerous areas, meeting personal needs or addressing problems at the workplace. One thing about gamification that is certain is that it is complex. It is no magical cure-all that can be applied haphazardly and it isn’t something that will make overnight changes. To properly apply the methods and techniques to your own life or your business, it’s best to do as much research as possible and contact an expert that can help you achieve the most from gamification.

With technology that is constantly improving and the rapid growth of the Internet of Things, it is certain that gamification isn’t going anywhere. Learning as much as possible about this new field sooner than later can set you up for a better, more fulfilling life.

Featured photo credit: Gamification e via pixabay.com

Set a goal for yourself

Add To My Goal

Read full content