What has been my life’s journey through Gamification and what interesting things did I see or do?
There’s a podcast episode for that. With Erik van Mechelen, an awesome writer that I met through Octalysis Prime, we explore this.
Below, I expand on this podcast episode which let’s me share links and lets me expand on some items. It even has juicy nuggets of knowledge I didn’t mention! However, there’s no substitute for listening to the podcast.
How Did Gamification Come To Me?
I grew up knowing that life’s a hardcore serious heck-of-a-game. With that mindset, I grew up with video games, programming computers, sports, psychology, and spiritual exploration. Combined all together, I decided to actualize my potential, level up in life, and to help make paradise on earth. Maximizing human flourishing is the goal. This tweet sums it up nicely:
🙂 10,000th tweet. My mission: 1) Love all unconditionally 2) Live a long healthy life 3) Actualize potential 4) Help make paradise on earth
— Mike Finney (@finneycanhelp) December 26, 2015
First Exposure To Gamification
Some teachers are shining stars. One of them was a seventh grade teacher of mine who taught computers on the side. I’ll never forget her. She did it for free, bless her. It was a learn at your own pace and earn the right to unlock the next challenge approach. It was a level up and unlock strategy. In Octalysis, we would say she combined Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience (CD6) with Core Drive 2: Development and Achievement (CD2). It was my first taste of Gamification before Gamification was even a thing.
What’s the Word, I’m Looking For?
So, I had a mission, goals, steps to take, and wanted to ensure that I positively reinforced myself by applying behavioral psychology. That’s quite a mouthful. What would it look like if I combined all that together? The answer was Gamification.
Inspirational Gamification Videos
In late 2012 / early 2013, I saw the famous Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal, The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years Of Life [SuperBetter]. Although this didn’t give me the word Gamification, it showed others are out there who believe in using the power of game design and behavioral psychology to make life richer and more humane. I still needed to find that google-able word.
“Keep searching! C’mon! Get creative!”, I told myself. It was quite a challenge! Finally, I found Goals Become Games: Gamification for High Achievers, presented by Jon Guerra at GSummit, a Gamification conference. I had found my word and a new world. Although not perfect, Gamification was a term we all could easily google.
All of this searching also led me to a fun and inspiring Jesse Schell video from DICE 2010 about integrating technology and game design into your daily life. It was extreme, crazy, and fun. Craziness aside, I knew that Gamification was google-able and could tie together some fantastic people and their ideas!
Maximizing human flourishing is the goal.
Learn, Learn, Learn
Looking for the fantastic people, I found and took a free Coursera Gamification course by Kevin Werbach. I also read many of Jon Guerra’s Living for Improvement blog posts since I was strongly interested in applying Gamification to my personal life.
Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis
Googling more like crazy for Gamification, I found Yu-kai Chou’s awesome Octalysis videos and TEDx talk, Gamification to improve our world. “Here’s a person who truly gets it!”, I said. I memorized the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis, co-founded an Octalysis Explorers group on Facebook and went to GSummit 2014 where I had the honor of meeting Yu-kai Chou in person. I even got to go to Yu-kai’s awesome and exclusive three day Octalysis workshop.
Nir Eyal’s Hook Model
From a product perspective, I also got to watch a fantastic presentation by Nir Eyal about the Hook Model. Although I also started a Facebook group called Hook Model, it has grown inactive. As I highlight in Communities in Nonsocial Mobile Apps, you have to dedicate multiple people and continuous marketing resources to support an online community.
At the authors’ request and to my delight, I was able to read and provide feedback on Gamification and Product Design books. Often it was before the material was even out to the general public! These great books are:
- Andrzej Marczewski’s Even Ninja Monkey’s Like To Play
- Nir Eyal’s Hooked book. Side note: he had an ingenious way of getting many reviews through a Free for 5 days strategy.
- Yu-kai Chou’s Actionable Gamification
All the Way
Books are great. However, there’s a deeper self-improvement experience called Octalysis Prime which applies Octalysis to your life. Yu-kai Chou kicked off the kick-starter and I joined right away:
Apply, Apply, Apply Gamification At Work
Extreme Programming Software Development Methodology
Extreme Programming (XP) is a Software Development Methodology. The requirements you implement have story points associated with them. When a feature is done, you’ve earned those points. You count them up every week or two and see how many points you got. Since XP supports fundamental values and is fun, I have introduced and championed it in several companies. Where I currently work at CARFAX, our software development roots are in XP.
ZTEP – Zombie Technology Elimination Project
At CARFAX on a side project that I created and managed, ZTEP – the Zombie Technology Elimination Project had a strong story narrative. In other words, it was strong in Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling (CD1). If you killed a zombie, you unlocked some zombie narrative. Getting rid of a certain type of technology meant that you would unlock a different kind of narrative. It was very creative. Credit goes to the fantastic author, Sean R. Frazier. There’s more about ZTEP in my old blog, tagged as ZombieTechnologyEliminationProject.
Technology Mentor Program
The mission of the Technology Mentor Program (TMP) was to share technology and agile knowledge in a fun way. People from multiple departments played / participated. Although we had PBLs (Points, Badges, and a group level Leaderboard), we also had strong social support. For one department, we would personally shake the hand of the person who had either shared or received an extraordinary amount of knowledge. They had leveled up. There’s more about TMP in my old blog, tagged as Mentor Program.
Remember Me? Name / Face Matching Game
I didn’t mention it in the podcast, but there’s a side project at work that I am product managing called the “Remember Me?” app. It’s a name / face matching game aka training app. The app presents a face and a name. It then asks you if it’s lying. You can tap Yes or No and it will let you know if you were right or wrong. If you’re wrong, it tells you the correct name. Although still in the early stages, it holds a lot of promise and there’s plenty of excitement from people across the departments!
Apply, Apply, Apply Gamification To My Personal Life
On to the personal stuff! My personal life revolves around meditating and getting things done.
A specific example of Gamification applied to my life involves my son’s interest in meditation. We started with a Mindful Minecraft Meditation technique and then later used Headspace which has cartoons and more explicit Gamification techniques. There’s more about Headspace in the blog post Anxiety? How Does One Start To Meditate? As a side note, my go-to for suggesting a meditation app is 10% Happier even though both apps are very good.
For my daily tasks and activities, I use the Gamified Habitica and Argus respectively. Both have a strong social aspect. For the Gamification part, you have to look deeper in Argus to see the Gamification than you do Habitica.
Habitica is explicitly a Gamified to-do app with support for teams aka a party. You can have a party of players defeating monsters by those same people just getting their own tasks done. There’s accountability in that if you don’t get your daily routine tasks done, the whole party suffers damage from the monsters! There are multiple classes (roles) that you can adopt if you wish such as healer, warrior, rogue, or mage. For example, you can cast spells that help the whole party if you’re a mage (wizard).
Habitica deserves its own article that uncovers the social and creative aspects of the to-do list game. Unfortunately, I don’t see a great one out there. While keeping in mind that there is a strong social aspect if done right, I recommend going to the Habitica section of the following article Why You Get More Done When You Gamify Your Life to learn a little more about Habitica.
Argus is a dashboard on your life. It’s tied into a social network and has a news feed.
Since there is so much to share about Argus alone, I wrote Argus and Octalysis to help keep this post short enough.
CARROT To Do App
It should be noted that I used to use the CARROT To Do app daily. It’s a well done and funny Gamified to-do app. I cover how impressed I am with their marketing in CARROT iPhone App Video Marketing Done Right. However, CARROT lacks the social features which are so much more enjoyable.
Shift to FinneyCanHelp
How did FinneyCanHelp come about? In every online account I approached, Finney was taken. So, how to solve the unique identifier problem? After some deep introspection and reflecting on my calling to help make paradise on earth, I initially came up with “LoveFinney.” The idea was to express the idea of unconditional love. I got strong feedback that LoveFinney was a horrible idea. Since love has many meanings, I needed another word.
In Star Trek The Original Series’ episode The City on the Edge of Forever, there’s a scene where Captain Kirk said the words “Let me help” is recommended over anything else. “Let me help” is even better than “I love you.” So, I went with FinneyCanHelp. As a result, I am FinneyCanHelp on Twitter and have this blog of FinneyCanHelp.com.
Final Tips for People Who’ve Gone Past The Beginning Parts of Learning About Gamification
If you’re just starting out, I would say learn and apply. As you advance, form allies with others and write what you learn. I’ve formed allies by co-creating communities and joining other key ones such as Octalysis Prime.
Definitely write about what you have learned. When you write, the ideas will crystalize in your mind. You can get synergy between the different concepts. It lets you later search your own content for old ideas which can help make new ideas.
As soon as you can, get your stuff out there for all to see. Publish. People will come to you with their ideas too. Go all out.
As someone said to me at a Gamification conference, Gamification is a tool to use. It’s not the whole thing. A wise person named Yu-kai Chou said Gamification is Human-Focused Design. Although Gamification is not the whole thing, designing everything in life with humans in mind is still quite a bit!
We’re a social species that need each other. The human race is an extended human family. If each of us use our talents to their fullest and design experiences that support human flourishing, we can truly make paradise on earth.