Tag Archives: #gamedesign

One Minute Read from The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Turning Life into Fun Games

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Here is the third blog post in a series featuring videos on YouTube, where I read from one of my motivational books for one minute.

In this video, I read from The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Turning Life into Fun Games: A Compressed Version of the Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.

The extract I am reading is from the chapter titled “How?”.

Here it is if you want to read along, prior, or afterward.

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Excerpt from The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Turning Life into Fun Games

1. Self-Gamification is a lifestyle

So far, we have considered all the five “W” questions — those starting with the words “who,” “what,” “when,” “where” and “why.”

The remaining question is how to turn something or anything into games.

The answer is multi-faceted, and in a way, the whole book is about how to do it, because the “how?” embraces the answers to all the “W” questions: “who?”, “what?”, “when?”, “where?” and “why?”.

But the most important facet of how to turn our lives into games is that the gameful approach to life, Self-Gamification, just like those for our health, well-being, and happiness, is not a one-time pill to fix a problem once and for all, but a lifestyle. Because:

“Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.” — Anonymous

2. What is Self-Gamification?

So, what is this new approach to increasing self-motivation and bringing ourselves back on our happy path? And why the need for a new term?

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The next step

To take this game to the next level, I invite you to read the book. To look at The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Turning Life into Fun Games and buy it on Amazon, click on its title or the image below:

If you want to see where else you can buy it, then go to the book’s page on this website here.

Alternatively, you can subscribe to my page, Optimist Writer, on ko-fi for $5 a month, and besides supporting what I do, you will also get access to all my motivational books, which I share there once a month or each time a book is out. Right now, you can get access to four of my books there — one upon subscription or one-time support and three in the posts solely for subscribers. The Self-Gamification Happiness Formula is one of the three. The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Turning Life into Fun Games will be one of the next books I will share there.

Enjoy answering any question you receive or ask yourself in a gameful and joyful way!

What Is the Best Thing About Turning Life Into Fun Games From Game Design Perspective

Screenshot by the author

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I want to invite you into the world of game designers. Writers and artists are also such designers. All these and other creatives have one thing in common. When they create something for others to enjoy, they have to think about what their customers might feel or wish for.

In one of the sixteen books I am reading right now in parallel, I found the following enlightening quote about the challenge that many game designers and creatives face:

“A great game designer must both predict the actions that players will take within a given game and understand how those actions will make players feel. To some of you, this definition may sound a bit wishy-washy.

“‘We have to talk about feelings?’ Yup, there is no escaping it. Our job as game designers can be described as working in a feeling factory. Only by understanding our own feelings and emotional reactions to games can we empathize well enough with others to do our jobs well. Get ready to get uncomfortable!”

— Justin Gary, Think Like A Game Designer: The Step-by-Step Guide to Unlocking Your Creative Potential

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The best game designers trust their players’ instincts

Later in the same book, I found the following truths about game players:

“In a fundamental way, player perception is reality.”

and

“The best test for knowing whether players liked your game is if they ask to play again.”

And when they play you — as the game designer — pay attention to the following:

“Try and make a player’s natural instincts be (most of the time) the correct thing to do. If your players are constantly taking a certain course of action, embrace it.”

— Justin Gary, Think Like A Game Designer: The Step-by-Step Guide to Unlocking Your Creative Potential

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You have your player right inside you

Game designers have the challenge of guessing and later finding out what their players think by gathering feedback and observing them while the players test the game.

As the self-motivational game designer — the one who turns challenges, projects, activities, and tasks into fun games for yourself — you have an enormous advantage comparing to what the traditional game designers face.

You have your player right inside you. You are the player and the designer of your games.

So, the clue is that you observe how you feel with the game you play (= task you took on or been given to) and then, if necessary, tweak the design of that game in such a way that the player — yourself — can’t wait to engage into this real-life game.

Your tools are awareness, identifying the smallest step you can perform effortlessly and with the resources you already have, and approaching the whole thing gamefully and playfully.

I invite you to reread the quotes above as a self-motivational game designer. Become aware that the player in those quotes is you. Here is the last of the quotes above rewritten to make it visible that the player of your life’s games is you:

“Try and make [your] natural instincts be the correct thing to do. If [you] are constantly taking a certain course of action, embrace it.”

Isn’t this awareness and the brilliant wisdom of a hugely successful game designer fantastic?

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Where you can learn about being both designer and player of your life’s games

The awareness that you have all the tools to make any challenge, project, or activity exciting and fun for yourself can help bring on your natural resourcefulness.

But if you want to take it to the next step, I invite you to check out many of the resources I offer to turn life into fun games. You can find a comprehensive list here.

If you enjoy learning through online courses, then I have a special offer for you.

I have created a coupon to enroll in my online course Motivate Yourself By Turning Your Life Into Fun Games on Udemy for only $9.99 instead of the standard price of $154.99. You save over 90%. To take advantage of this coupon, make sure you redeem it before February 9. Click on the title of the course above or the image below to enroll with this special price:

Image by Alice Jago

Here are the coupon’s data for your convenience:

  • Code: 2A8452A550DDD3B79E3B
  • Expires 02/09/2021 00:02 AM PST (GMT -8)

If you have questions, then you can contact me either by e-mail or on social media. You can find the list of channels where you can find me on my contact page.

What Is the Difference Between the Preferred Path to Your Goal and the Actual One

(Image courtesy of the author)

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Have you ever tried to illustrate the preferred path to your goals geometrically?

Our stubborn concentration on the goals brings the illusion of this path as being a straight line. At least this straight line is our preferred path. “That would be so great if I would already have been there and achieved that,” we think.

But similar to the way on land to the airport from where we live, our lives are rarely straight lines.

Neither the paths to the wins in the games. They are never straight lines. Because — let’s admit it — straight lines are not very exciting. Yes, they are simple and straightforward, but they are not fun.

Over thousands of years, people shaped their games along with their experience of fun and put many fun obstacles and challenges on the path to the wins in those games.

Fun can rarely be found in a straight line to your goals in life either. At least not in the long run.

And thankfully, our brains don’t function linearly either. Especially the subconscious parts of our minds are very gameful and playful.

I invite you to observe your thought processes, their quirkiness, and how life unfolds with the eyes of a curious and passionate game designer and player. You will discover so many possibilities, as well as your resourceful and gameful powers.

To take the exploration of the enigmatic puzzle of your subconscious a step further, I invite you to read my new book Gameful Mind: Solve the Puzzle of Your Enigmatic Subconscious.

To take a look at the book and buy it on Amazon, click on its title above or this image:

If you want to see where else you can buy it, then go to the book’s page on this website here.

Where should we turn something into games?

Here is another excerpt from my latest book The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Turning Life into Fun Games, which is a short and reworked version of the Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.  It addresses the place where the self-gamification, in other words, turning our projects, activities, and also our lives, into fun games, occurs.

1. Where should you turn things into games?

Is there a space where the turning of something into games is most appropriate or works best?

Yes. In fact, there is only one possible space for it to happen. Here goes.
The only place to turn anything into a fun game is where you are. I.e., when we are working or doing anything else, we are playing that project or activity game. And the game takes place where the player is. It is where each of us is.

This also means that turning the work of others in a project into a game can only be done where they are, and by them. You can’t do it for them.
So don’t judge others; they are their perfect designers and players too.
Sometimes, when we have success in our life, we might be tempted to judge others who complain about theirs. But remember that you can’t design their games, because your “shoes” won’t necessarily fit them. Only they can develop their own Self-Motivational Games, and create their own experiences.

And also remember that when you judge others, you are complaining too. (I had to chuckle when I observed myself complaining about other people’s as well as my own complaints, for the first time.) And when you are complaining, you aren’t playing your games. So instead of analyzing what others do or don’t do while turning (or not turning) their projects and lives into games, concentrate on playing your games and having fun with them. This is the best way to share Self-Gamification.

2. Where is the starting point?

While working on Self-Gamification Happiness Formula, I found the following brilliant quote:

“Every moment is a fresh new beginning, a wonderful inauguration of the great cosmic journey through the universe. We can do whatever we want. We can change reality at any moment.” — Russell Brand

We might not perceive many of the moments in our lives as such fantastic beginnings, and discard them as not good enough, but they still make up part of our lives. Let’s consider examples of chains made out of moments related to what we are up to, and how our paths turn out.

If we map the initial state of our lists and thought processes, then the path might look like this:

Us —> Our to-do list item —> Our goal or dream

Being aware of the magic of a small, effortless step (see the later chapter, “How?”), we recognize that the following path is more pleasant and more doable:

Us —> The smallest effortless step —> … —> Our to-do list item —> … —> Our goal or dream

Where “…” corresponds to the other smallest, most effortless steps.
I am a passionate writer. So for me, it is straightforward to illustrate these diagrams with what I do almost every day. Thus for a writer, the previous chart will look as follows:

The writer (at her computer) —> Write a paragraph —> … —> Write a book —> … —> Become a published author

But here a question arises: will the next step for a writer always be to write a paragraph, when the starting point might be something else, like taking a shower? Many writers have brilliant ideas while taking a shower. So what is the choice? Despair?

No, rather a recognition that the next step is something else that will also contribute to your goal. So if you take a shower, then the next step would be to finish the shower.

The end of the shower will be your new starting point. There you have the option of either continuing your morning routine or taking a small detour to your desk to make notes on your brilliant idea.

You could also play a Role-Playing Game [1] with yourself and ask yourself, as you would a best friend, to remind you later about this brilliant idea. But assure yourself as you would your best friend, that it won’t be a problem if he or she (that is yourself) forgets it.

Yes, I again suggest that you be aware, progress in small steps and treat whatever you do as a game.

But here is another diagram that is trickier than having the shower as the starting point:

You (upset, wherever you are) —> (The next step; not identified yet) —> … —> Your to-do list item —> … —> Your goal or dream

When we are upset, then the to-do list items and even the smallest steps might seem further away than they do in other moments.

But what does being upset mean, anyway? Oxford Dictionaries say that we are upset [2] when we are “unhappy, disappointed, or worried.”

What could be the reasons for those feelings? Or is there perhaps one source for them? Here is what Dr. Robert Maurer [3], Director of Behavioral Sciences for the Family Practice Residency Program at Santa Monica, UCLA Medical Center and a faculty member at the UCLA School of Medicine, says on that:

“Do all upsets come from fear? We don’t know for sure. However, based on the research, I suggest that this is the most useful way of looking at them.” — Robert Maurer, Mastering Fear

It’s a great hint to look at our fears when we’re upset. However it is a scary task in itself. What to do then?

Here is what Ariel and Shya Kane say about it:

“It is often challenging to look at how you think and act because it might be embarrassing to see the real truth. But what if you were to take an anthropological approach to how you relate rather than a subjective, judgmental one? If you were a scientist, looking to see how the inner workings of a culture was put together, you would notate what you see — not judge it. If you bring an active interest, an observational approach to how you have been programmed, then you can ‘debug’ your own personal computer.

“Think of yourself as a highly sophisticated computer with archaic programming. Simple awareness acts like a complimentary upgrade.” — Ariel and Shya Kane, How to Have A Match Made in Heaven

Yes, non-judgmental seeing allows us to become both honest and kind with ourselves.

The path we take while making progress can be immensely intriguing, and if we drop our judgments and expectations, we can discover many surprises along the way.

Let me remind you here of the gift that anthropology, kaizen, and gamification bring together. Being upset is not wrong.

Upset and other “’stress symptoms’ … are not signs of disease. They are our body’s gift to us to let us know something important is happening that requires our immediate attention. Without these symptoms we would have perished as a species long ago.” — Robert Maurer, Mastering Fear

We often fail to appreciate these gifts because they don’t fit our preferences for the moments in our lives. It is up to us to decide which moments we extend and which we keep short. Let’s remember that each moment is a starting point.

So the next two steps, when your starting point is an upset, could be:

You (Upset) —> Stop —> Take a non-judgmental look at where you are and your fears —> …

In the next moment after you’ve had a good look at where you are and the fears you are resisting, will be whatever you choose to do next in your game.

3. What if the next step leads us somewhere we didn’t plan to go?

Here is another analogy to reflect the fear we might have of the next step, however small it might be. When you stop and look, you might have the feeling that you are at a crossroads. It is great to have a choice, but what happens if we take the “wrong” road, leading us away from where we were actually heading?

Even if we break down the path to our goals into the smallest of steps, we might shy away from those small steps and do something else entirely.

Or life might get in the way and require us to do something else.
Is that bad?

No, because you have the possibility to get back to where you were heading. Awareness can help you see that each moment is a crossroads. As soon as you detect a stop, take a look and choose the next step.

Sometimes detouring can help you make the best turn on your way to your goals.

Here is what happened as I was working on finalizing this part of the book in Self-Gamification Happiness Formula:

I had a doctor’s appointment for both of my children, who had experienced cough and asthma symptoms for quite a while. We went to test them for allergies, among other checks. The prick test revealed that my son was allergic to house dust mites. That called for action. So instead of continuing work on this book for the whole afternoon, as I had originally planned, I spent the time cleaning my son’s room meticulously by washing his bed linen, reducing the number of plentiful dust catchers (such as many tens of comic magazines), hunting around the house for plastic boxes that could close hermetically, and putting most of his toys in these boxes. Later I learned that all the dust catchers were not the reason for his allergy, but I am still glad I did all that. Whatever it was that ultimately helped with his dust-mite-allergy and asthma, my son hardly coughs these days. And that is what matters.

Awareness and saying “Yes” to what was requested, along with the experience of playfulness when turning my life into games, and kaizen, helped me to make progress and appreciate each of the small things I cleaned. I noticed how much better the air in my son’s room became when I removed old play carpets. All that brought a feeling of satisfaction that overpowered my sense of guilt for not having done it sooner.

I did write a little in these chapters, but only during two ten-minute breaks. These breaks felt like both a reward and progress.

But what surprised me most was what happened the next day, as I was taking my morning shower. I realized how I wanted to structure this part of the book in Self-Gamification Happiness Formula. Before that, I had various topics mixed up and hadn’t felt entirely comfortable with it, despite being unable to put my finger on exactly what it was that bothered me.

So the break I took from writing, also in my thoughts, whilst being preoccupied with the ambition to make my son’s room as safe for him to sleep in as possible, helped me achieve the state of mind needed to find the best solution for this part of the book.

Hence, the seeming “curse” of an easy or necessary step that can lead us away from our goals, can actually become the blessing that leads us more quickly or more directly, to what we want, and beyond.

Thus even your escape-to tasks can become the necessary step toward your goals. I continually discover great quotes and thoughts that I add to various chapters of this book (Self-Gamification Happiness Formula) while reading the multiple books I enjoy both for leisure and to learn something new. And even when I surf social media at random.

Being an interested and curious scientist is the most brilliant state of mind. The multi-dimensionality of our behavior and thought processes never ceases to amaze me. It’s so much fun to look at them non-judgmentally and become aware of the possibilities we have if we stop fighting and fleeing.

After recognizing where we are, where we want to head, whether we are escaping something toward that goal, what that is, and what activities we escape to, without judging all that, we can identify and take the next step that will move us toward our goals.

Awareness and kaizen will help us see that the next step toward our goals and dream is not far away, but exactly where we are right now.

And that in most cases, there is nothing else we need to make that step, than what we already have.

To get your copy on Amazon,
click on the picture below

For other retailers, go to the book’s page
on this site here.

 

Definitions and References:

[1] Role-Playing Game: “A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game; abbreviated RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making regarding character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.” — en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_game

[2] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/upset

[3] http://www.scienceofexcellence.com/

Voluntary Participation in Gameful Project Management

Reading time: 6 minutes

“Finally, voluntary participation requires that everyone who is playing the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback. Knowingness establishes common ground for multiple people to play together. And the freedom to enter or leave a game at will ensures that intentionally stressful and challenging work is experienced as safe and pleasurable activity.” — Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

Voluntary participation is the most important ingredient in the success of any project and any game. Successful exit from a game that is not rewarding or a project that goes in the “wrong direction” can be meaningful too. (See also the quote on the fun by Ariel and Shya Kane in “Fun is Not a Bonus; It’s a Must for Success.”) Also, when you might decide to return to it later. All are the parts of your path unfolding in front of you toward known or yet unknown goals. That is why I have put the definition of this game component at the beginning of this post and not at the end s for the other three elements of games (and projects). See also “Approaching the Goals Anthropologically,” “Embracing the Rules,” and “At Least Four.”

As you see in the definition above, voluntary participation is closely connected to goals, rules, and the way the feedback system is designed. So, if you see these three components as part of your game and do everything as a designer and player to keep them fun and efficient, then voluntary participation in your projects will become effortless.

In self-gamification, voluntary participation is (at least) three-fold. It includes the will:

  • to see your projects as games,
  • to design and never stop developing these games (that includes the will to learn from other game and gamification designers; also those who practice self-gamification and approach among other project management gamefully), and
  • to play, in other words, actively engage in your self-motivational, that is, your project and project management games.

These three components of voluntary participation are essential for you to keep turning your projects (and life) into games if you wish to do so.
But there is also another, fourth dimension to voluntary participation in Self-Gamification and Gameful Project Management. I mentioned it above. “The freedom to enter and leave the game at will” is present in real-life projects too. It might not be as straightforward as it is in games, but each contract contains a clause of when a project is canceled.

Apart from that, you don’t have to close a project altogether to be able to “leave” it for some time. All of us have many projects we take care of. We go from one to another and later back to the first one. It is not very different from playing one game, leaving it for another (or something other than a game), and later coming back.

Moreover, if you stop recording points in your project’s feedback system (especially the additional one for fun, with points, badges, stars, or gems), then that is not a problem at all because it doesn’t mean a loss of something, or that your projects (or life) will take a turn for the worse.

After turning my writing into a game for the first time, I forgot about it but still felt its positive effects. I suspect that I turned bits of my writing process into a game without recording the points. After all, I did have a feedback system in the form of word count, and chapters reviewed and edited.

Equally for you, if you stop recording points, it doesn’t have to mean you will lose the fun you experienced in the projects. Even today, in some of my trickier projects, I use a simple feedback system (usually a scrap of paper) to get my work flowing, and as soon as it does, I stop recording the points and just enjoy the work on the project.

So don’t judge yourself if you notice that you aren’t following the plans for your games to the letter. You still have all four components of voluntary participation if you actively engage in what you are doing and have fun.

But if you notice yourself resisting and being “thrown out” of your game, then you can use the self-gamification tools in your always-available toolset to address the fear, resentment, anger, or anything else that hinders you in your project games, boldly, honestly, and kindly.

There is a clear benefit to turning our lives into games, which is also the reason I keep playing. The resisting thoughts and urge to procrastinate (including things we think we really want to do) will never stop appearing and becoming more sophisticated. That is probably why project management exists as an ever-evolving discipline.

These resisting thoughts might occur more rarely as we discover the fun in whatever we do, but there will always be a moment when our creative minds come up with some fretting ideas. In this case, Self-Gamification, and thus also Gameful Project Management, can help you turn the projects you fret about into Self-Motivational Games, in other words, real-life projects or activities that you love to engage in, both the design and the playing of.

When I got the feedback from friends who applied Self-Gamification, I realized something. Not only do Self-Motivational Games require voluntary participation for them to exist both in design and play, but playing them facilitates voluntary participation in our lives’ projects. It’s an utterly rewarding chicken or the egg causality dilemma, which helps us to experience the work on our projects as a “safe and pleasurable activity.” (See the quote by Jane McGonigal at the beginning of this post above.)

Here is where the synergy of anthropology, kaizen, and gamification embraced by Self-Gamification and Gameful Project Management (see “The Synergy of Three”) comes full circle.

So for your project management games to be successful, you must be willing to see what you do as games, design them, their rules, test the games, play them, follow the rules you have outlined, and through it all, be willing to have fun.

Please note, I don’t mean that you should expect to have fun. It is easy to take suggestions from others and test out whether they are fun for us, with the intention of proving it one way or the other. But what makes a game or any activity enjoyable is first and foremost, the willingness to have fun.

That is the fifth and the most important feature of the voluntary participation in Self-Gamification and Gameful Project management. The will to have fun.

P.S. If you haven’t yet, I recommend that you also read “Fun is Not a Bonus; It’s a Must for Success.”

If you want to learn more:

Sign up to Optimist Writer’s Blog to follow the Gameful Project Management series.

Check out my coaching and consulting services to work directly with me.

Take a look into my book Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.

Go to this link for the list of all the resources I offer on Self-Gamification.