The Relativity of Hard Work and “Hard Fun” in 5 Minute Perseverance Game

Games are often facing a prejudice to be a comfortable place to flee to from the serious and really important assignments. But interestingly enough the “work” we do while playing games is not easy at all. It is in truth hard work. Doable, but not easy at all. At least not in the long run. Otherwise, no one would play the games if they would not challenge us.

Jane McGonical, whom I mentioned already many times in this blog series, and who is a well-known gamification advocate and game designer, has addressed this very specific characteristic of games in much detail.

In her book “Reality is Broken,” Jane McGonical quoted the playwright Noël Coward, who said,

“Work is more fun than fun.”

She has supported this statement by referring to a psychology research method known as the experience sampling method, or ESM, which concentrates on finding out “how we really feel during different parts of our day.”*

These studies show that the widely agreed relaxing or indulging activities, such as eating sweets, watching a movie, or just doing nothing, don’t make us feel better. However, the events where we are challenged, and where we see the task as doable, then we are detected to be the happiest.

Jane calls this kind of work “hard fun.”

She says, “Hard fun leaves us feeling measurably better than when we started [playing**]. So it’s no surprise, then that one of the activities from which ESM subjects report the highest levels of interest and positive moods both during and afterward is when they’re playing games — including sports, card games, board games, and computer and video games. The research proves what gamers already know: within the limits of our own endurance, we would rather work hard than be entertained. Perhaps that’s why gamers spend less time watching television than anyone else on the planet.”

The last post on the 5 Minute Perseverance Game titled “The ‘Unnecessary’ Obstacle of the 5 Minute Perseverance Game and Why it Turns an Overwhelming Task into Doable” could appear contradicting the above statements of the hard work inside games. We discovered there that the limiting time of working on a project makes it doable, that is easier than if we were doing it in one piece. So, is the 5 Minute Perseverance Game an exception and it is all ease and “piece of cake”?

Not exactly. We still need to work on our projects. The ones we procrastinated, those challenging us so much that we both yearn to do them and at the same fear as hell the results of our work. So the work is still hard, but the 5 minutes adjusts this overwhelming task into the “the limits of our own endurance” and unknowingly to us we start loving the job at hand instead of dreading or even hating it. Thus, even the tasks, which we have to do but have the idea we don’t want to do, become doable and even enjoyable because we manage to do them. We might find ourselves doing them for a longer period of times, or taking more tasks into the game. And when the game becomes too much, and we overdrive ourselves, we can choose to play differently, just like in other games we can leave one game and search another that satisfies our interests and “endurance.”

So the relativity of the 5 Minute Perseverance Game is also its paradox. On the one hand, we still need to make an effort and challenge ourselves to work through the 5 minutes. But on the other hand, by delimiting the time we invest into any project during any given day, we can reward ourselves much sooner than if we worked the whole day, or week, or month on the same task. In other words, we experience the job at hand as easier to manage than when we thought of it at the beginning. At the same time, it presents itself as engulfing and engaging as it could ever be.

What is your opinion? Do you agree with the concept of the “hard work” and “hard fun” in a game in general and in the 5 Minute Perseverance Game in particular? What is the hard work in the projects you take into your perseverance games?

On the picture above: I often experience cooking as “hard fun.” It is challenging me, but my enjoyment of the process grows as it progresses and the more I leave the past events of the day behind. I cannot, however, take the credit for this beautiful and utterly yummy salmon creation. My niece and her life partner have cooked this and several other gourmet dinners for us during their short stay with us this June.

What is this blog series about? You can find this out in its first blog post called “5 Minute Perseverance Game – Moving my Favorite Game to my Writing Blog.”

Results for days 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 of the round June 2017 of the 5 Minute Perseverance Game: 6, 7, 6, 8, 8, 11, 11 points out of 15 possible for each day.

Results Total for the 2nd week in June (week 24) 2017: 57 out of 105 possible (54 %)

References in this article:
* Jane McGonical, “Reality is Broken” (E-book Location 562)
** added by the author of this article

Copyright © 2017 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels