Tag Archives: #selfmotivation

Designers and Players: The Main Feature of the Gameful Project Management

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Acronyms: GPM = Gameful Project Management; SMG = Self-Motivational Game.

Of all four main components of games*, Self-Gamification emphasizes voluntary participation, which seems to me to be sometimes forgotten in gamified solutions and when serious games are developed. (We will consider the game components and their counterparts in real-life projects in a later post.)

When I was exploring and formulating the Self-Gamification approach in the book Self-Gamification Happiness Formula: How to Turn Your Life into Fun Games, I discovered that the main feature of turning anything in our lives into fun games is the following:

We are both the designers AND the players of our Self-Motivational Games (SMG).

Before reading this blog series or the book Self-Gamification Happiness Formula, you might have heard this statement as two separate ones:

  • “Be the designer of your life,” and
  • “Here is how you play the game called life.”

But I discovered that you couldn’t separate the two. We are both the designers AND the players of our daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and so on games, be it at work, at home, or anywhere else.

That is especially true for project management.

Many brilliant resources on project management emphasize that successful project managers start with managing themselves**.
But how can we do it, I mean turn project management into games?
We can, for example, learn from other players and designers of self-motivational project management games.

Many gamers and skill learners nowadays learn from videos on YouTube and other media, watching how their fellow players play the games (or instruments) they love and succeed playing.

But designers learn that way too. They play other people’s games in the genre they are interested in and eagerly study and absorb each detail for inspiration.

Writers do that too. They learn from their peers and idols by reading books in the genres they write.

The project management game designers have even a better situation. They can learn not only from other project managers in their or different niches, but they can also learn from the game and play (toy) designers. They can absorb almost everything around them like a sponge, wringing out what doesn’t apply and keeping the fun for them bits to implement in their projects and work.

Above learning from others, the following question to yourself and your team (since project management includes team management***) can help to jump-start undoing even the tightest knots in your projects:

  • For yourself: “If my project was a game, and I was its designer (which I am!), how would I approach it so that I, as its player, can’t wait to start playing (engaging in it) and enjoy doing so when I do?”
  • For you and your team members: “If our project was a game, and we were its designers (which we are!), how would we approach it, so that we as its players can’t wait to start playing (engaging in it) and enjoy doing so when we do?”

When you ask yourself and your team this question, remember that no idea that appears is wrong. The main criterium to find out it is appropriate for you and your team is how fun it is.

In the next blog post, I will address the significance of fun for project management.


* “What defines a game are the goal, the rules, the feedback system, and voluntary participation. Everything else is an effort to reinforce and enhance these four core components.” — Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

** “It is a project manager’s job to organise everyone else, and you will be much more efficient at doing that if you can keep on top of your own activities. If you are clear about what you have to do next it will make it easier for you to organise other people and the work of your team.” — Elizabeth Harrin, Managing Yourself: Shortcuts to success

*** “Project management is no longer just about managing a process. It’s also about leading people—twenty-first-century people. This is a significant paradigm shift.” — Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, James Wood, Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

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.

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: