How to Create a Gamified Chore App with Octalysis

This article was written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen.

Kids don’t like chores

Getting kids active and participating in household chores has many benefits, but have you ever had trouble persuading your kids to help out around the house?

I know as I kid I wasn’t easily persuaded to do things that weren’t my idea. In Gabon, when I was four, my parents couldn’t even get me to try a single slice of pizza! (Eventually, I tried it and thought it tasted amazing.)

Chores felt like work, which was worse than homework. I’d finally finish my homework, be ready to play, then BAM, my mom or dad would show up with a chore to do. (Chores often are work.)

My guess is a lot of parents don’t bother with getting their kids to help out with household chores. These parents probably have excuses like:

  • “Too much effort to keep them motivated.”
  • “The kids will just whine and complain.”
  • “It will be faster to do the chores ourselves.”

But these parents are missing a great opportunity to implement lifestyle gamification to motivate and reward their kids for helping around the house. Busy parents, take note!

Continue reading How to Create a Gamified Chore App with Octalysis

Why You Should Create Year-END Resolutions

This article was written by Contributing Writer Erik van Mechelen. 

Why You Should Create Year-END Resolutions

Have you started thinking about your New Years’ Resolutions yet?

If you haven’t, you’re likely to be tempted by the torrent of articles written this time of year on the subject.

But you know better.

New Years’ Resolutions don’t really work.

I’ve been talking with Yu-kai, and he prefers something different: Year-END Resolutions.

In this post, I’ll:

  1. Take a moment to summarize why New Years’ Resolutions don’t work.
  2. Explain what Yu-kai means by Year-END Resolutions
  3. Show you how to get started (and finished) with those actions before Jan 1, 2017.

Let’s go.

Continue reading Why You Should Create Year-END Resolutions

Gamify Your Life – Up For the Challenge?

Lifestyle Gamification

(New to Gamification? Check out the Octalysis Framework that I am internationally known for.)

Gamify Your Life – Up For the Challenge?

The last year seems to have gone by pretty quickly. But now we have a fresh new start at a brand new year. Most people are inspired to set some type of New Year’s resolution. If you’ve been following our blog posts, you are probably quite familiar with the Core Drives of game players that make up the Octalysis framework.

These drives specify the chief sources of motivation that games should ideally cater to in order to be thoroughly immersive, fun and engaging. When used in a balanced fashion, these factors  motivate individuals to keeping playing and overcome setbacks.

Now, think about what it would be like to experience this type of momentum with your own personal development goals. Although most people have the best of intentions when setting their New Year’s resolution. However, it is a normal tendency for individuals to quit their New Year’s resolution within a few days, weeks or months.  But what if you not only  learn the lessons of what it takes to create truly fun experiences but also apply these principles to your very own life?  You might actually be one of the rare individuals persist with their resolutions to the end December, ready to successfully tackle an entirely new resolution for the next year! You will be the New Year’s resolution master!

My passion as a gamification consultant extends beyond best practices and principles in game design. Ultimately, I want to see this world become a more fun place. Imagine what it would be like to be so engaged with life, including work and school. We would get through the things we “have to do.” with less resistance and a greater sense of fulfillment and meaning. We would also be motivated to create new, exciting and beneficial solutions instead of just getting by through the “daily grind.”

Life is too short for most of our waking hours to be spent experiencing the feelings of drudgery and utter boredom.

I firmly believe that if we can empower ourselves to actually create more opportunities  for fun. And games can be one of our best teachers for doing this. Rather than depending heavily upon them as a source of enjoyment, we can choose to reframe our perspective and learn important lessons for creating our own sense of fun. Think of how powerful it would be to actually harness  your inner resources and transform life’s seemingly mundane situations into truly engaging quests and challenges? We wouldn’t have to feel so bogged down by feelings of resistance, frustration and aversion which sabotage our ability to truly enjoy our lives.

Imagine what it would be like to realize at the deepest level of our being that we are the heroes of our own stories, not someone else’s. And as we align ourselves with this perspective, we can better position ourselves to look deeper past the surface of our existence to see and create opportunities for living each and every moment to it’s fullest.

Beyond learning the Octalysis Framework

Up until now, you may have been eager to learn more about Octalysis and how it can be applied to design better games. But in light of this upcoming new year,  I want you to consider a new challenge of using this framework within the context of your own life. Whether you are interested in advancing your career, succeeding at your own business, becoming more fit, saving money, improving your personal relationships, learning developing greater confidence or cultivating a new hobby, all these endeavors will require consistent action and dedication. And if game principles can motivate effortless perseverance, why not apply these concepts to everyday situations where you can benefit from this mindset?

Most people consider their New Year’s resolution over and done with as soon as they make a mistake or miss one day of not doing what they are supposed to. But this is where I’d like you to redefine what it means to keep a resolution. If you falter with your consistency, just forgive yourself get back on track and don’t quit. The rewards in the end will be worth it.

Now keep in mind that the eight Core Drives of Octalysis specify human motives within a game context. And if you are to see your life as an adventurous game, it would be valuable to see how this framework can apply to personal progress and development. Therefore, Octalysis can be a helpful reference to re-imagine the achievement of your goals and keep you motivated as you would with your favorite game.

Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling

If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time”- Zig Ziglar

Think of your life as being your playing field. Without an ultimate inspiring vision for your grand purpose or smaller goals, it can seem like you are just going through the motions of what you are supposed to be doing. Your daily actions are just reduced to completing a bunch of tasks simply to get by and stay clear of problems.

Your Epic Meaning and Calling starts with a meaningful vision. As the hero of your life’s journey, you are strong enough, capable enough, smart enough and creative enough to rise above circumstances you are not happy with and create new ones. Sure there are challenges and obstacles. But you can use your inner resources to overcome them. Being rooted in a strong sense of purpose and meaning can help you see things in a whole new light and fuel the motivation that you need.

If you have not thought about defining your Epic Meaning and Calling, here are some questions to think about:

  1. What do you feel deep down is your life’s purpose?

  2. What principles do you stand by?

  3. What would you ideally like to do to make a positive impact in this world?

  4. What are you uniquely good at?

If you simply want to lose weight and become more fit or achieve a more simplistic goal for the last year, your Epic Meaning and Calling doesn’t have to be some deep profound answer. It can simply be a vision of how you would enjoy the experience of reaching your goal.

However you choose to define this Core Drive in your life, what’s important is that it truly evokes a lasting and genuine feeling of inspiration within you.

Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment

More often than not, it is the case that your grand vision will require that you achieve smaller steps, reach certain milestones and master a set of skills along the way. And of course, this will require consistency and discipline which may seem difficult, challenging or daunting. But if games can bring out these qualities in people, why not use gamification concepts to cultivate the momentum you need.

Create a written plan that specifies what actions you need to take. Go a step forward and break down these steps into clear tasks and actions that you will need to accomplish on a day to day basis. These can even include learning goals and questions that you need to find the answers to.

Choose to see your achievement strategy as fun. And remember that every task that you complete is like a stepping stone or a jigsaw puzzle piece that contributes to your overarching vision. Therefore make it a point to celebrate your small accomplishments as you achieve the items on your lists. And even if you happen to miss days or certain objectives, simply learn from these incidents, resolve to do better and keep working on your objectives.

Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback

No matter what you’ve set out to accomplish, you will undoubtedly need to solve problems and come up with new and novel solutions. Using your creativity to actually create new possibilities for your own life can be exhilarating if you choose this to be the case.

Even the process of reframing old, seemingly boring or even adverse situations into new opportunities for growth will require creativity and outside the box thinking.

As you exercise your creativity to reach milestones, you may not only feel internally rewarded, but also you might garner positive feedback and recognition from others and have new doors open for you along the way.

Core Drive 4: Ownership and Possession

Naturally, you expect to earn tangible results from your endeavors  that you can actually possess or accumulate. In real life, this commonly takes the form of financial rewards which often translates to material acquisitions like:

  • a new car

  • a dream home

  • nice clothes

  • bigger savings

  • an overall higher standard of living

The drive towards Ownership and Possession may also involve pursuing credentials such as a degree, diploma or certification.

Also, think about how well known entertainment professionals will vie for an Oscar or a Grammy. Athletes will compete for medals at the Olympics and so forth. I’m sure you get the picture.

Whatever you choose for your New Year’s resolution and self development, personal and professional goals, determine what tangible rewards you would like to own or possess. And think of this and other rewards to motivate you along the way to your ultimate vision.

Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness

Rather than achieving successes and wins in a silo, most people find it more gratifying to have their efforts recognized by others.

There are a number of different ways this can be realized. A person could decide to enter a contest or competition. If they are primarily motivated by altruistic objectives, they may choose to become very active in a charity and impact as many lives as they can. This would naturally generate a considerable amount of positive attention, not to mention appreciation from other people. Joining a Meet Up or other type of support group would be another way to connect to others while striving towards a personally cherished vision.

Also with today’s social media tools like Facebook, You Tube and Twitter, attaining Influence and strengthening one’s relationship to others is within everyone’s reach if they are dedicated to creating new content and sharing on a regular basis.

Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience

The Core Drive of Scarcity and Impatience is about the motivation to pursue what you can’t immediately have. For example, you may want to live an affluent, stylish lifestyle. Or you may want to own a item made by a luxury brand that is known for catering to the rich and famous.

Even if you are not the type of person who is particularly motivated by materialistic pursuits, think of what you might ideally want, but is not within easy grasp at the moment. Challenge yourself to aspire towards what seems to be an unattainable dream. The experience of actually reaching what seemed to be nearly impossible will be a victory that is all the more gratifying.

Core Drive 7: Unpredictability and Curiosity

Achieving anything worthwhile requires that you move out of your comfort zone.  For some people, this can feel scary. But this is a matter of perception and a matter of choice. Each person can choose to look upon their new journey with a sense of adventure. It’s all a matter of attitude and perception. The unpredictability of it all can be viewed through an open minded attitude of curiosity and a willingness to explore rather than through the lens of fear or aversion.

And with this perspective taking unchartered steps in new directions doesn’t have to feel risky, frightening. Nor does it have to feel like you are adding more tasks & obligations to your busy life.  Rather, moving beyond your comfort zone can feel like an experiment or an opportunity to expand your horizons and venture beyond familiar boundaries.

Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance

When creating change in your life, it is usually best to start off with a reasonable degree of moderation. For obvious reasons, you probably would not want to spend excessive amounts of time and financial resources in trying to leap into the life and career of your dreams.

As an example, if you are considering the idea of one day leaving your day job to become a successful entrepreneur, it is recommended that you have at least up to about two or three years worth of savings to support your basic living expenses. It will take some time to establish the right foundations for your business before you can reap the benefits of a desired stream of revenue. Therefore, it is best to probably stay at your job until you’ve made enough to support yourself during the very initial stages of your business.

Perhaps you don’t want to start your own company. But in the last year, you may decide to implement Core Drive 8 into your life to avoid loss by simply saving more and spending less. Therefore your personal challenge might involve finding new strategies for enjoying your life or getting the important things done while reducing spending.

Although I’ve developed my career as a gamification professional, some people might find it surprising that I don’t promote the gaming culture.

Yes, I support excellence in game design. But I regard this as secondary to what I consider my  my Epic Meaning and Calling, if you will.  My fondest desire is to contribute to a world that  helps people  become so engaged with their real lives that they don’t have time to immerse  themselves games. What a wonderful place this would be for everyone when we are finally able to appreciate our lives to the fullest extent and all the opportunities we have for creating new experiences of  enjoyment and adventure with what is already in front of us and around us!

I hope all of you take these considerations to heart and have a most  fun filled and fabulous new year!

Top Ten Gamified Productivity Apps that will Boost your Life

Top Ten Gamification Apps to be More Productive Image

One of the most practical uses of gamification is in helping people boost their productivity and manageably transform their challenging goals into reality. Success of course, does not come from mere inspiration. It is the result of consistently achieving small goals. This is no easy feat as we often develop enormous amounts of inner resistance to these seemingly small tasks.

So wouldn’t it be great if there were better ways to turn mundane or pesky tasks into fun? Thanks to gamification, these tools are now a reality. What better way to challenge yourself to new heights than through using gamified productivity apps?

Through enjoying the overall experience of working towards your ambitious goals, we can transform activities that we normally resent into positive new habits which give us a greater sense of control over the direction of our lives.

Lifestyle gamification is a very exciting field and the opportunities to design new methods for “leveling up” your life are limitless. Please share with us your ideas once you take a look at our curated list of productivity apps below.

Here are the top ten apps that could potentially change your productivity, health, and financial habits for the better.

Continue reading Top Ten Gamified Productivity Apps that will Boost your Life

Top Ten Eco-Friendly Apps For A Cleaner, Greener World

Composite image of a green planet for top ten gamification eco-friendly apps for a greener world

We are now living in a pivotal point in our history.  Humankind is actively finding new answers to forging the right balance between the needs of nature and modern living. However, this overall endeavor is not limited to scientists, engineers, and product innovators. And though it requires large-scale institutional change, it also involves the collective participation of regular people, like you and me to build new culture and make positive impact at home and in our communities.

A combination of knowledge and individual action is required to increase recycling and composting, reduce landfill waste, lower pollution, improve water conservation, lower the ecological footprint of conspicuous consumption and action which contribute to a positive environmental impact.

Through other posts on this site, we’ve seen how apps and games can actually help people enjoy the process of learning and ultimately make changing their behaviors and habits easier for themselves or for the greater good. Games offer a fun way for individuals to feel excited and motivated about taking real action in their lives. This is far better than having an idealistic list of things that “should be done,” but end up being forgotten or constantly put aside in favor of old habits.

For you readers out there who are parents, here is some food for thought by Dennis J. Hall, “We have not inherited the land from our fathers, we have borrowed it from our children.” Living sustainably is something that needs to be undertaken by the young and old alike.

Living green is truly a satisfying experience, especially once you’ve mastered this way of life by consistently choosing small actions that make a big impact. Collectively, these actions have an even larger impact so be on the watch for how Core Drive #5, Social Influence & Relatedness plays a big role in creating large-scale aggregate impact.

Here are ten eco-friendly apps that are enabling kids of all ages to enrich their knowledge and make more sustainable, healthy choices, while having fun at the same time.

1. Gro Memo

Eco-consciousness starts with the awareness that many of our simple actions have much larger consequences. Pollution, for example, has a significant negative effect on other humans and entire ecosystems.

Grow Memo is a simple matching game that introduces this concept to younger children. Pictures of cartoon animals are shown in polluted environments and players need to match each image to pictures of where the animal is shown in cleaner environments. As they do this, the entire surroundings become cleaner enforcing the idea that a cleaner environment is better for all. This combines Core Drives #2 (Development & Accomplishment), #3 (Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback), and #1 (Epic Meaning & Calling).

2. Green Me!

Helping the environment involves more than just sharing knowledge. Small conscious acts add up. The Android app, Green Me!, is a great companion for those who want to develop a more eco-friendly lifestyle beyond just remembering to recycle. It is very similar to personal productivity apps in terms of helping users become more consistent with their goals and enabling them to visually see their progress (Core Drive #2 Development & Accomplishment).

The interface is structured as a calendar. For each day, you list five eco-friendly things you did. The calendar square then turns a particular shade of green. It gets darker the more green actions you list.

Naturally, you would want to see every day of the month colored green which can make you feel great about your commitment to helping the earth throughout your daily routines. This is a good combination of Core Drive #1 and Core Drive #4, Ownership & Possession.

3. Green Genie

Image of Green Genie eco-friendly app logo

Besides recycling, remembering to bring your own bag to the grocery store and making earth friendly purchases, there are countless other lifestyle tips and projects one can do. This is where Green Genie can be an eco-enthusiast’s best friend. Users can submit their own ideas for other people to try out, invoking Core Drive #3, Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback.

Green Genie has various informative directories such as a list of different types of plastics. Many containers that you buy are marked with a number (e.g. yogurt). With Green Genie, you would be able to look up this code to not only see what it means, but also to find out whether it can be recycled in your area.

Green Genie puts the power of knowledge at your finger tips to compel you to act creatively on making simple, but critical behavioral changes.

4. Eco-Dice

Image of eco-dice for eco-friendly apps

Eco-Dice offers another fun way to turn positive intentions into action. Players simply toss a die using their touch screen and, once it settles, the facing side gives you a green task to do for that day. The options include separating trash, bringing your own grocery shopping bag, sharing your shower (LOL), turning off an appliance on standby, or riding your bike to work.

This is a very simple app that mostly involved Core Drive #7, Unpredictability & Curiosity to compel users to make desirable changes in their lives. Perhaps the developer can use Core Drive #5, Social Influence & Relatedness by combining your friends’ dice with yours to either up the ante (if you both get the same side, you need to do the action twice or for two days, etc.) or generate more actions (you and your friends design actions for each other before the roll is made- a good example of Core Drive #3, Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback as well).

5. Water1Der

Water1Der is a trivia game app developed by the Groundwater Foundation. It aims to teach kids about water above and below ground. The app emphasizes that water is truly a precious, but finite resource here on earth. New water can’t be created. Conservation and efforts to keep our water supply clean is essential, not just for humans, but general life on earth.

The trivia questions are presented in a variety of different formats such as:

  • multiple choice
  • true/false
  • matching
  • missing letters

There is even the ability to scroll down the screen to choose the appropriate answer. Players can also move an image of a particular substance or chemical  to match it with an appropriate disposal method.

Like all trivia games, there’s a healthy use of Core Drive #2, Development & Accomplishment and Core Drive #8, Loss & Avoidance.

5. Avego

Avego is a carpooling app where users can look up rides offered by people who are headed in the same direction as they are. At the end of the trip, the app posts the amount of money that represents the person’s share of the gas cost. There is even the option to rate the ride. It’s a good way to track your carbon footprint and impact on your wallet by taking full advantage of Core Drive #5, Social Influence & Relatedness and Core Drive #8, Loss & Avoidance.

6. iRecycle

The simple act of recycling your trash is not as easy as it seems in real life. Not every building is arranged to have recyclables removed separately from regular trash. If it is not feasible to have a recycling truck pick up these items on a regular basis, individuals may have to take the initiative themselves to drop off items at a nearby facility that they’ve researched.

Aside from plastic bottles and aluminum cans, there are other forms of trash that are more difficult to recycle. These include broken electronics, or household chemicals (e.g. unused cleaners, makeup, batteries, ink cartridges, paint, detergents etc.) which are certainly not biodegradable.

The iRecycle app helps users locate appropriate facilities which accepts specific items to be recycled. It also offers over 1,500,000 ways to recycle over 350 types of materials! The motive to use iRecycle is largely driven by Core Drive #1, Epic Meaning &Calling. And the completion of successful recycling (instead of just tossing things into the regular trash dumpster) can fill one with a fabulous sense of Core Drive #2, Development & Accomplishment.

7. Paper Karma

Many of us receive large amounts of junk mail, with only a small percentage of items that are actually relevant to us. One ambitious DIYer made a video on You Tube about how to build a simple outdoor food grill which can be fueled using paper logs made from junk mail!

But Paper Karma offers a more simple way to get rid of annoying postcards, flyers, coupons and offers. Simply take a photo of an unwanted piece of mail. And at the push of a button, the app will automatically unsubscribe you! Talk evoking a sense of Core Drive #2, Development & Accomplishment through efficiency- sheer genius! Plus the trees will thank you.

8. Joule Bug

Joule Bug is an amazing energy conservation app which incorporates very simple game mechanics in the form of badges and a leaderboard. The game includes hundreds of different types of achievements. One example is to combine your errands efficiently into a simple trip instead of doing them on separate outings. Another is to designate a spot in your yard for composting.

Players can announce their eco-positive actions to their friends (Core Drive #5, Social Influence & Relatedness) and earn points and badges for their deeds Core Drive #4, Ownership & Possession and Core Drive #2, Development & Accomplishment). What’s more is that Joule Bug even links to the individual utility accounts of players so that they can see how much money they saved.

The app also calculates other parameters related to the user’s environmental impact.

9. Good Guide

What we choose to purchase has an enormous impact on the environment, whether we realize it or not. The types of ingredients matter in terms of safety and whether or not they were produced and harvested in a sustainable and ethical way. With the rising demand for consciously created products, we are seeing more of these types of items being sold. But it then becomes important to ask how earth friendly are these brands?

Good Guide is an amazing directory of over 200,000 consumer items. The app allows users to learn more about specific items in terms of how eco-friendly they actually are and provides users with safer and ethical alternatives at comparative prices. Each product is rated in terms of health standards, safety, social and environmental impact. The app successfully utilizes Core Drive #4, Ownership & Possession by giving informed decision-making power to the consumer.

10. Eco Action Trumps

Eco Action Trumps Image for eco-friendly apps

Eco- Action Trumps is a game that can be played with friends. Different eco-actions are represented on individual cards and players choose ten acts that they would actually engage in. Their opponents choose from among the remaining cards. The app then issues a collective score representing the overall environmental impact of each chosen set. And the player with the higher score wins. This is a good example of an app that combines Core Drive #5, Social Influence & Relatedness and Core Drive #7, Unpredictability & Curiosity.


Here’s the card game version in action

Eco-Friendly Apps in Summary

Although not everyone talks about making green lifestyle choices throughout their day, most people ultimately do want to live in a cleaner, greener world. It’s hard to imagine anyone who might argue with this. And while there are tons of things that we know we should be doing, the act of actually completing them may not seem as alluring when it comes down to it. Eco-friendly apps like the ones listed here are a great way to turn positive intentions into positive actions. They have the potential to truly change our attitudes, experiences and how we feel about engaging in eco-friendly lifestyle choices. Give them a try!