Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

10000 hours of play

10K HP Step 1: Choose Your Game (Mission)

The first step of living a life of play is to pick the right game.

There are many types of video games: RPGs, fighting games, puzzle games, first-person shooters, platformers, racing, party games, etc.

Yu-kai loves multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games (Heroes of the Storm), strategy games (Chess and Starcraft), and fighting games (Super Smash Bros Melee), while I enjoy fighting games (Street Fighter) and action/adventure games (Metal Gear Solid). Different players will get excited by different genres.

In the Game of Life, the Game you choose to play is your mission in life. Some important notes about choosing your Game:

  1. Your Game (Mission) is the goal of your existence, your reason for being. Your game can be to become the best parent to your children, make humans an interplanetary species, compose music that moves people on an emotional level or solve the homeless crisis in San Francisco.
  2. Your Game is not your occupation or industry. Your game is NOT to become an accountant or to become a doctor (if you want to become a doctor, think about WHY you want to become a doctor—to save people, to become wealthy, to gain prestige? That is your game).
  3. Do NOT choose a Game based on your Attributes (natural talents or gifts): analyzing your Attributes and Skills will come in a future step.
  4. Your Game doesn’t have to be fixed for the rest of your life, but it is best to choose a Game that you’ll play and dedicate your life to for the next 5 – 10 years.
  5. If you chose the wrong Game, don’t feel trapped and forced to continue playing it for the next 5 years; instead, pivot and take the Skills learned and move on to your next Game.
  6. Your Game doesn’t have to be as grand as Elon Musk’s: make humans an interplanetary species. Your Game can be as simple as living a quiet, stress-free life with your pet on a beach.
  7. You can play multiple games at once; however, we don’t recommend playing more than 2 or 3 at the same time, as it is better to be extraordinary in 2-3 Games than to suck at 10.

How to Choose Your Game

Choosing your Life Game is not as easy as choosing a video game genre to play. It will take tremendous time, mental energy, and trial and error to get it right. But you have to get it right because choosing the right game is incredibly important.

For example, let’s say your game is to fill the world with wonderful music and help families experience it live and up close for an affordable price. But unfortunately, you just don’t have a musical bone in your body: you’ve tried to play many instruments and even sing, but you’re just not gifted as a musician. Don’t fret! You can still choose a game of bringing wonderful music to the world. If you have the Attributes and Skills to be an amazing accountant, then you can become an accountant for the Sydney Opera House. You are still playing your Game even though you’re not a musician (we will examine your Attributes, Skills, and choose your Role in subsequent 10K HP steps).

There are three methods to choosing your Game (we recommend utilizing all three methods to increase your chances at choosing the right Game):

Method 1: Identify your passions

We’ve all heard the advice before: figure out what your passion is and go for it!

To be honest, it’s quite hard for me to identify my passions and pursue them as Life Games. I mean, I love my family, I love watching and playing basketball, I like playing chess, reading books, I love Tokyo, and I love dogs. Does it mean that I want to turn these passions into Life Games? Maybe yes, and maybe no.

For some people like Yu-kai, making his passion his Game came quite easily: he had an epiphany of turning his own life into a game, and then he became passionate to help as many people in the world experience the same lifestyle of fun-filled success as possible.

For other people like me, my passions don’t easily translate to the Game I want to play. No problem at all–we still have two methods left to try.

Method 2: What do you think about when your mind is at play?

I often do my best thinking at the gym, when the distractions of my phone and laptop are put away and the endorphins of exercise help my mind wander and ideate. It’s during exercising that I daydream about building a consumer product, going on Shark Tank, rejecting their funding, selling my product to millions of people, and then one day, walking into a cafe and seeing a person using my product.

The type of product itself isn’t that important to me: I just want to build something that makes a positive impact on people and that gets enough adoption that one day I’ll randomly run into someone that is using it.

That is what I daydream about, what I think about when my mind is at play. What about you?

Your daydreams can provide great insight about your passions and even the type of Game that you should be playing.

Method 3: What would you be doing if you didn’t have to worry about money?

Don’t worry if you have a super simple answer: “If I didn’t have to worry about money, then I would just sit on the beach all day with my dog and drink a piña colada.” This is a perfectly legitimate Game to play. In this case, you’d be playing the Lifestyle Independence Game, with the mission of freeing up your time completely from work.

In fact, Tim Ferriss wrote the 4 Hour Work Week, which describes in detail how you can win at this Game.

For Yu-kai and me, work is a natural extension of our lives. We have fun when we work and the work we do makes us feel fulfilled. So, if we didn’t have to worry about money, we would still be working on our projects.

Here’s proof: Yu-kai’s consulting company, The Octalysis Group, is extremely successful with many large clients like LEGO, Microsoft, and Volkswagen/Porsche. He no longer has to worry about money in life. He also has one of the best reputations in his industry: his work has been covered by Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and NBC. He doesn’t need to worry about his fame or legacy.

Even though he doesn’t have to work another day in his life, he has begun writing his second book, 10,000 Hours of Play, because he is passionate about sharing his experience with everyone in hopes of improving their lives. In a similar fashion, he launched the gamified mentorship platform, Octalysis Prime, even though it cost substantial resources to create, operate, and the monetary payout will likely never exceed his lucrative consulting business.

Yu-kai is simply doing what he wants to do while no longer worrying about money – helping others transform their lives into a game so they can live passionately and successfully.

It’s time to choose your Game

Use the above three methods to choose your Game.

Take your time: go for a run, lift some weights, meditate, take a shower; do whatever it takes to get your creative juices flowing and into your best state of mind.

Sometimes this process could takes weeks, months, or even years to really nail down! However, do not give up because finding the right game to play is the most important component to making sure your life is a journey worth taking. 

Examples of Epic Life Games

Yu-kai Chou: Yu-kai has already mastered a few games he played in the past.

The two main ones are:

    1. Create a company that initiates a new industry (this turned out to be the Gamification industry that he helped pioneer)

    2. Create a positive global impact of any sort (this was accomplished by his work in the Octalysis Framework which improved over a billion user experiences in dozens of countries).

Yu-kai is now focused on these three new Games:

    1. Transfer the entirety of his current and future knowledge (in gamification, behavioural design, entrepreneurship and life in general) to as many people who want to learn as possible.

    2. Allow as many people as possible to transform their lives into games that they are passionate about and can thrive in.

    3. Optimize his spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental health. This includes always enjoying what he is doing, and never spending over a year doing things that make him feel miserable simply because he had to.

Jun Loayza (me): I am currently playing three games:

    1. Raise my daughter to bring light, happiness, and joy to the world.
    2. Create a consumer product that positively impacts millions of people.
    3. Live healthily and happily past 100 years together with my wife.

Erik van Mechelen (Chou Force team member):

    1. I will be married in February 2019: since I met my wife to be, I have striven to deepen our relationship and find out what our potential is.
    2. Win a literary award in every genre of fiction.
    3. Help one thousand people (or more) understand themselves motivationally, psychologically, and idealistically so that they can achieve their potential.



What about you?

Make a list of the Epic Life Games you are playing or want to play. 2-3 things that come to mind are enough to jumpstart this journey. Share them in the comments below to help others brainstorm their own games and invite allies (including Yu-kai) to support you in your game.

Read the next article in the 10K HP series:

  1. The strategy guide to beat the game of life: 10,000 Hours of Play
  2. 10K HP Step 1: Choose Your Game (Mission)
  3. 10K HP Step 2: Know Your Attributes (Talents)
  4. 10K HP Step 3: Select Your Role (Identity)
  5. 10K HP Step 4: Enhance Your Skills (Abilities)
  6. 10K HP Step 5: Build Your Alliance (Network)
  7. 10K HP Step 6: Achieve Your Quests (Milestones)

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