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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/

Who is responsible for turning projects, activities, and whole lives into games?

My new little 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 raised interest on social media as well as discussions on what could that mean to turn one’s life into games. One of those who commented said that it sounds like a “culture changer.” It might. Surely, when I wrote the books on Self-Gamification, I hoped that many would profit from the approach I developed unknowingly for myself and later was asked to explain to and share with others. But in fact, these books, including the latest one, addressed just one person. The reader, who read the copy he or she held in their hands at any given moment. Here is one of the excerpts of the book, which explains what that means (a spoiler alert: the chapter “Where?” extends on this topic).

Who?

Who is responsible for turning projects, activities, and whole lives into games?

The simplest answer is, “You.”

No one else can turn the things in your life into games that you will find fun. You are both the designer and player of your Self-Motivational Games.

But let’s see who you might be, and why I believe that the approach summarized in this book is for you.

1. Who is it for?

This book, and the Self-Gamification approach introduced in it, is for anyone who wants to bring fun and joy into various projects and activities they take on, and if they wish so, to all aspects of their lives.
Since I am a non-gamer, I initially had all my fellow non-gamers in mind, or those who play games very occasionally and prefer spending their free time doing activities other than games, but who, like me, want to enjoy life regardless of how it turns out. This approach will help non-gamers lose the suspicion and fear they might hold against games, as I did in the past (especially for video games), and find a natural starting point for turning their lives into fun games without having to delve into gamification design or psychological research.

But if you are a gamer (that is someone who spends many hours playing various games, often video and online games, in your free time) then this method is also for you. It will show you that experiencing fun doesn’t have to stop with switching off your video game. You will learn that you can take your favorite games and apply their elements to every-day life and become the super-hero yourself.

If you have already tried to consciously turn some activities into games and wonder how you can extend gamification principles to other or every area of your life, then this approach will help with that too.
Gamification designers can also profit by discovering techniques and skill sets to enable the users of their frameworks to obtain maximum benefit from their products.

A few words about age. The approach in this book is applicable to both children and adults. I had adults, including young adults, in mind when I wrote this book, but I would like to urge you to share the possibility of turning your life into fun games with your children or your younger siblings and friends. This will enrich the experiences of the whole family or community.

2. Who is it not for?

Either Self-Gamification Happiness Formula or this book is not for someone who:

  • Is looking for the results of scientific studies on gamification,
  • Wishes to study the psychotherapeutic effects of gamification,
  • Wishes to learn advanced game or gamification design techniques, or
  • Seeks a scientific book on self-therapy, self-counseling, or self-help therapy.

Nor is it for those who:

  • Want to escape everyday challenges,
  • Want to give up their current jobs, companies, or relationships,
  • Seek a quick-fix, one-time happiness “pill” to solve all their problems,
  • Think that hard work and being serious are essential and that having fun is a flaw, or
  • Despise games and believe there is nothing worth learning from them.

Speaking of despising games and their primary goal of bringing fun and making us happy, do you perhaps think all this gamification “stuff” is nonsense and that life is not a matter of enjoyment? That life is a torment, through which we must fight until the end? That life is unfair?
Then this approach is not for you.

But since you’ve read this far, perhaps you are looking for a way to change your mindset from serious and hard, to light and joyful.
In that case I invite you to continue reading.

But here are four more disclaimers for the Self-Gamification approach and the books addressing it:

First of all, it doesn’t promote the development of games that place their participants in scary or uncomfortable situations, like experiences shown on “Candid camera” or the like. I won’t be advising you to go bungee jumping, if that is not already your dream or wish. Most of the self-motivational and uplifting game examples discussed in this book are about making everyday activities and projects (i.e. those we have already committed to doing or want to address, and which we already have on our to-do or wish lists) fun, enjoyable, and achievable.

Second, although I mention some of my Self-Motivational Game designs here and describe them in detail in Self-Gamification Happiness Formula, I am not suggesting that you use them. You are free to do so. But my main message is that you are the designer of your own games. No one but you lives — and that is designs and plays — your life. So, ultimately, even if you try out some of the elements of my game plans, you will still put your own stamp on them as they become an integral part of your daily, monthly, and so on, games.

Third, this, or any other book on Self-Gamification, is not the description of an app. There is no Self-Gamification app, and I hope there never will be. After all, there could be many. And the same person would require countless versions, since we humans need a frequent change in occupation to feel alive.

Fourth, this book and the Self-Gamification approach do not show the way to eternal bliss. I can guarantee that after reading this book or Self-Gamification Happiness Formula, you will still experience discomfort and be upset and desperate from time to time. But you will feel more in control and have the tools at your disposal to make those periods of distress shorter. You will also learn how to shift your focus from complaints to creativity, and be able to bring yourself back into the flow without too much effort. And most importantly, you will learn to be both honest and kind to yourself.

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

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

Join the Review Team for Gameful Project Management

I have some great news. I started releasing books in the series “Gameful Life.” Last week, Gameful Project Management went live as an e-book. The paperback will come out soon.

Thank you all, who expressed their interest in Gameful Project Management and the “Gameful Life” series. Thank you also for your support and exciting discussion on the topic. Note that the links and the picture above will lead you to the book’s page on Amazon. If you would like to see the book’s page on this site and see what other retailers have it on sale, then click here.

Even if the paperback is not out yet, you can already get a copy of the book, either by buying it as an e-book or by joining a Review Team. Taking we are having 2020, I have reserved 20 spaces in the Review Team. Several are already taken, thus please let me know ASAP (per e-mail to vib@optimistwriter.com) if you are interested in being part of it.

The book is short (105 pages); thus, you won’t be able to read much about it in the free sample. Therefore, I add here an excerpt from the introduction, letting you know what it is, what it is not about, who it is for, and what you could learn by reading this book.

What is this book about?

This book is an awareness booster.

That is what all non-fiction — especially those on personal and business development — and also some fiction books, video courses, documentaries, films, inspiring workshops, seminars, and conferences, as well as meet-ups with peers and friends, are. If we allow it, they can all boost our awareness of what else is possible, in addition to what we already know.

And that is what this book is about. I wrote it to raise your awareness of what is possible when you turn project management into Gameful Project Management; in other words, if you approach your projects, including the management of them, as if they were games, and as if you were both the designer and the player of these games.

What is this book not about?

And here is what Gameful Project Management is not about.

It is not an academic book.

Nor is it an exhaustive resource on the topic of Self-Gamification, which serves as the basis for Gameful Project Management. For an in-depth discourse on the Self-Gamification approach, go to Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.

This book is not about you buying new software or hiring new personnel.

We won’t be looking for the reasons you don’t feel as in control as you’d like over your projects, project management, or life.

This book is not about being too serious or demanding of yourself or your team. There is a word in project management that is often used: “accountable.” I feel it is sometimes used to add drama and exaggerate the need for precise recording of progress on a project, which is not always possible. And as a result, we put too much weight on the person who is expected to be accountable.

But excellence is not perfection. According to Elizabeth Gilbert, perfection is fear in disguise. Excellence is inherent to the gamers who enjoy the games they play. But there is no drama (or only jokingly expressed upsets) when they play games, while we seem to insist on loading our projects with drama and seriousness. So instead of putting too much weight and drama on project management activities, by claiming that they are vital and critical (which they might be in some situations, and not in others), you will learn how to address them lightly and gamefully, and at the same time with excellence and perseverance. After all, those who have fun with what they do, are successful at what they do.

Project management is about saying both “yes” and “no.” But we won’t be assigning things as either “good” or “bad.” I learned that if I keep things around for a while, then I want to do them, despite giving them all kinds of labels. The gameful approach that I address in this book will help you to put that labeling urge aside, and to view what you do as games instead.

The Gameful Project Management book is not about overthrowing the practices developed by the masters of project management. I was amazed to discover that project management knowledge has been collected worldwide for over 250 years. No, this book is not about replacing all this knowledge with a new approach, or distilling it in any way. It is about supplementing the essential project management toolkit.

Who is this book for?

This book is for everyone interested in making project management not only productive and effortless, but also fun.

What will you learn in this book?

You will learn about the synergy of anthropology (= awareness), kaizen (= small steps) and gamification (= bringing fun game elements into what we do). These three approaches are brought together by Self-Gamification, and when it comes to project management, by Gameful Project Management.

Here is why.

Without being aware of and appreciating what you have already achieved or what you have at your disposal, you won’t be able to grow. You need to know your “soil,” the “grains” and the “weather/landscape” conditions at this moment (not some future point), to identify the best next step to achieve the result you would like.

Without being willing to take a small step at a time, and to make only a little or no investment for each of these small steps, you won’t be able to grow continually. Instead, you will experience bumps.

Without adding a fun factor to what you do, without enjoying what you do, you will struggle to produce something that others will enjoy too.
By introducing these three skill sets, the book will equip you with simple tools to address any challenges you experience with your projects, and the management of them.

You will learn how to improve performance in your project management without considerable investments in expensive technology or new personnel.

You will find out how to achieve these improvements using what you already have at your disposal, and with minimal additional effort.
You might also experience what I did, when time and money were saved in a project — that the company I worked for as a sub-contractor received referrals, not only from their customer, but also from their customer’s client. The most fantastic thing about this achievement is that the only parameter changed was the gameful approach described in this book.

You will also discover that saving time and money comes as a natural result, as does the acquisition of new customers. These are the by-products of embracing the essence of Self-Gamification and Gameful Project Management.

For you, as the project manager, this essence is to approach each project and project management with awareness, in small steps, and gamefully.

Contact vib@optimistwriter.com to join the review team for Gameful Project Management.

Self-Gamification News by Optimist Writer

I have some exciting news to share.

First of all, the Self-Gamification Happiness Formula, which I published in June of this year in e-book and paperback formats, is now also available as an audiobook.

The other news is that I finished writing the Gameful Project Management manuscript and sent it to my editor. In the coming few weeks, I will post some of the chapters, which I haven’t published as blog posts yet.

To celebrate both great news and because of the holiday season, I reduced the price for the e-books on Self-Gamification as follows:

The prices will go back to normal after the holiday season, so please make sure you let your friends and colleagues know so that they can profit from these books too.

 

The Balance Game Gets an Upgrade

My new book Self-Gamification Happiness Formula: How to Turn Your Life into Fun Games is just out, born exactly two weeks ago, and already I am adjusting my latest self-motivational game design, which I call “Balance Game.”

I am adding badges. I had a particular asterisk system to motivate myself to do some things before the others, but this system didn’t work for too long.

Why? There might be many reasons. The asterisk system worked similarly as earning five stars each day. So it wasn’t bringing anything new, and I wasn’t learning anything new, but playing games is about learning. So I got bored. And the asterisk marks were not colorful. Not like my beloved pink stars. There could be many other reasons my clever mind can come up with. But the fact is that I started failing to reach the daily goals I was reaching easily previously.

So there was time for a new upgrade to keep the player (me) engaged.

I did test one badge for one thousand words written in one of my current works-in-progress. But it looks like I want more than one badge. So now I am curious what kind of badges I will come up with. So, I, as a player and designer, can come up with new ones depending on what and when I want to achieve something.

The picture I took today shows four badges:

  • “1k” stands for 1000 words written for my new book.
  • “1W” stands for doing all the wellness tasks (the E (eye gymnastics), SP (practicing straight posture), and W (workout mixed with yoga exercises)) before lunch.
  • “S” stands for calling it a day and going to get ready to bed before 10:30 PM if the following day is a working day, and midnight if the next morning is a weekend or a holiday.
  • “1h” means working for a project for more than an hour apiece.

I can guarantee that there will be more.

If you want to know why I do all that and why such an adjustment of self-motivational game designs is needed, then read the following excerpt from the Self Gamification Happiness Formula:

***

There will always be more than one design

I discovered something interesting about myself in relation to project management and the means I used for it. I realized I was under the illusion that one approach or system was a magical solution that I could use from the moment I discovered, tested, and liked it, until forever.

As I continued turning my life into games, I learned that one system/approach for recording and planning tasks might be appropriate (and fun) at some times in my life, but not at others. I used apps, monthly calendars, weekly, daily, Microsoft Excel, sticky notes, etc. All of them were of value at one particular time. Sometimes I used several simultaneously.
Right now, I stick with paper planners. In addition to the family calendar, I use three planners for the following: one for appointments, the second for appointments with myself (i.e., to-do lists), and the third is my self-motivational game feedback system with points and bonus stars. The latter two are the tools I currently use for my application of self-gamification (the same books I mentioned by name in chapter 11, section 2, activity 2).
But even using paper I felt I should have had one perfect system to record my tasks as well as the points. At some point though, I realized this is not only impossible but also unreasonable.

Being different in almost every moment is the main reason.

Thus, don’t stop experimenting. A design for your motivational games that works well today might not be appropriate a month from now. Don’t judge yourself for changing.
Don’t judge yourself for trying to find the perfect design, either. It seems to be normal for us humans to try to find one ideal solution for all time.

Approaching my self-motivational game design as a game in itself was of great help, and a great discovery for me. If I enjoy the game I design, I play it. If not, then just like passionate players of strategic games, I make notes for the next moves, which are to change the design for the next round.

I was curious once to hear Alex Rodriguez (nicknamed “A-Rod,” an American former professional baseball player) when being interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres, describe why he and Jennifer Lopez (“J Lo”) went to a TruFusion bootcamp and liked the new workout approach so much. In other interviews too he has pointed out that doing only one type of fitness is not only boring but also stressful for his body, having had both hip and knee surgery.

Here is the description I found for this new popular workout: “TruFusion is the latest innovation in group fitness offering multiple studios under one roof at an affordable price. With up to 240 group classes weekly in over 65 different styles, TruFusion gyms provide the hottest blend of yoga, kettlebell, Pilates, barre, bootcamp, boxing and cycle classes.” (https://www.franchisegator.com/franchises/trufusion/)

Over sixty-five different styles of classes? Is it any wonder that this style of workout is so popular? It is quite understandable that it never gets boring to practice it.

So, why do we try to find one single way to manage and carry out our projects and activities? The curious thing I observed is that many of us not only try to find one perfect approach to almost everything, but we also try to “sell” something that works well for us now as an ideal solution for everyone for all time.

Why not instead just enjoy what we do and be curious about how we can modify it, along with the change in our interests and behaviors that occurs all by itself?

Here comes the message of awareness, extended to include what we have established about game design and gamification:

Being a kind and honest designer and player of self-motivational games is the key.

***

P.S. You can purchase the Self-Gamification Happiness Formula and/or read the complete introduction and part of chapter 1 by clicking here or on the image below: