Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

4 Steps to Master Lifestyle Gamification


Lifestyle Gamification is simply treating your life as if it were a game, and you are a hardcore player who is trying to be the best at the game.

Hardcore players spend hours everyday trying to improve their abilities and beat the game. When they are not playing, they are reading strategy guides, going to online forums, and constantly thinking about how to make their game stronger.

Most people agree that the Lifestyle Gamification philosophy (concept of playing your way to success) sounds appealing, but they have no idea where to start. This post will explain to you how to begin your quest of greatness and fulfillment.

Each step isn’t very easy (especially when it deals with understanding yourself better), but nor is playing a game the first time eh?)

Step 1: Determine the Game you are playing

First and foremost, in anything, you need to figure out what kind of game you are playing.

What are your life goals, what are you passionate about, and what do you want to achieve? Are you playing a game where you try to make an impact in this world by utilizing your skills and resources around you to solve world problems? Are you playing a game on reaching the top of your organization in the shortest amount of time, trying to accumulate as much money(points) as possible, or picking up as many girls as you can?

You have to think very carefully about what you care about and what accomplishments would make your life meaningful. Choose a game that you feel is worth it and when at the end of the day (or your life), you would feel good because you had accomplished meaningful things and had beaten the game with a high score.

Step 2: Determine your Role in the Game by understanding your Stats and Style

Once you have identified the game you are going to play, you need to figure out what role you will play and what the skill sets or resources you must have are.

Let’s take my Game of trying to make as big of an impact in this world as possible as an example. Once I have determined that my end goal is impact, I need to figure out what the best way to get to that goal is.

That’s when you look at your “initial stats.” What are you innately better at than the people you grew up with? Were you always quicker at doing math? Were you the more sociable leader? Were you more creative than your peers?

I turn out to be better at creating creative connections in my head, establishing deep and meaningful relationships quickly, and discovering the potential of people and mobilizing them. I am also relatively emotionally stable and can withstand high stress.

Finding your initial stats is actually something extremely difficult to do, but you can only do it through a lot of self-exploration and trying out TONS of new challenges.

Unfortunately, there’s no meter to tell you your stats, and you have to kill enough monsters or get hit enough times to figure out the actual numbers. Being a NPC in town doesn’t help.

After you have determined your Initial Stats, you then need to think of the occupation you want to be in.

Don’t just pick something your stats point to, find something that you love doing as a lifestyle.

In games, I personally hate being a sorcerer where most of the time I’m hiding, hitting, and running, even though I could potentially become very strong with it.

Sometimes the easy road is not the most fulfilling. When you think about your occupation, deciding how you can use your initial stats to beat your game (the ultimate goal) in a way you enjoy doing is key.

OK, this step takes ages, and most people never do it before their midlife crisis. But that’s why so many young people don’t know what they do, and so many older people hate their jobs – they don’t invest time into this.

The first “build” of a character usually turns out crappy unless there’s guidance.

Back to my own example, I feel that since I am good at leading and dealing with people, have a strong balance between random creativity and systematic analysis, and can withstand a lot of stress and uncertainty, my occupation should be an Entrepreneur.

I can create new systems to improve the world in a creative and interpersonal manner, while withstanding the stress of things-gone-wrong which businesses face all the time.

My systems creation talent and my passion to help others grow also suggest a side specialization of a Consultant or Coach.

Step 3: Plan out a Character Skills Growth Road Map

Once you have decided on the Game you are playing and your Occupation, it’s time to plan out a “build.”

If you have done the last few steps correctly, this shouldn’t be too hard. Knowing who you are and where you want to be is far harder than knowing how to get there.

When you envision yourself accomplishing your goals in the future, what are the skill sets that you need?

Whatever the skill sets are, make sure you focus on those, and don’t spread yourself too thin.

Sure, you can have unrelated skills as long as you can see how they work together (for instance, Bilingual in Chinese and English, Leadership, Finance, and Sustainability Knowledge can work out well if you plan to become a financial leader of a sustainability firm that will expand to Asia).

Putting 2 skill points in sword technique, 2 points in spear technique, and 2 points in axe technique does not make a strong character when you can only yield one weapon at a time.

Step 4: Find Teammates and conquer easy Quests to Level Up together

After you know your occupation, stats and planned skill points, the only thing left is to build alliance and conquer smaller quests that will give you experience to level up and beat the game.

So holistically, to gamify your life well, you need to have good Occupation, Stats, Skills, Alliance, and Quests. Each of these things I will elaborate more upon in separate blog posts to get you to live a successful and fulfilling life. My goal as a Lifestyle Gamification Coach is to help you level up and become the strongest player on your server.

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30 Responses

  1. Enjoyed this blog fro 2 uses –
    1. A push to take this to a daughter (a gamer) to plan a recovery effort
    2. Another take on career-life planning. Maybe more relevant for Millenials

  2. Second, more general comment.

    Thanks for the amazing content you share, Yu-Kai

    I feel a bit challenged. It’s quite a job to keep up with the 21-day Gamification course (in fact I only read it to collect those little secret hints – CD 7 full throttle), reading the book and this blog.

    I have a hard time to relate to all the games stuff you are refering to. I can’t remember a time when I liked to play games. I always found life, interacting with others, learning, developing stuff, being creative and entrepreneurship the most interesting games to play. That’s why I love this article and the others in which you unfold your Lifestyle Gamification approach.

    I feel like a lazy bum reading about all those things I should be caring about in order to become a true player. But then I’m a zen-buddhist monk and always torn between deeply appreciating the present moment and giving in to that thrive and ambition. It’s hard at times to align those somewhat paradox tendencies between CD 1 and CD 2.

    CD 3, 4 (knowledge, experience and all the other ressources lying around) and 5 seem to be much more compatible and therefore easier to integrate.

    Love the Octalysis framework. It’s a clever tool to analyze my motivational weak points and in consequence work on some ideas where I should focus more in order to better balance my activities.

  3. My obsession with using gamification to transform the place that I work is now bleeding over into other areas. Lifestyle Gamification has been something on my mind a lot lately and I’ve been actively designing progress bars and quests for my own ambitions.

    I’m really just trying to expand my understanding by exploring how to gamify different things. Though it is important to me to remain on a progressive track and build up my personal skill tree as well so I figured I would start gamifying the entire process.

    To be honest though, when I look around for apps or anything that helps with this, all I see are over-glorified to do lists. There are way too many services out there that are just slapping points on something and think that that is all that it takes.

    They seem so shallow and totally ineffective in my opinion. It doesn’t really do much to extend further than a simple to do list. At least from my perspective and current understanding.

    I’m not a fan of Habit RPG. I know you have examined some of these apps and wrote about them before but I’m curious to ask, do you think that they go far enough? Do you think that they tap into the core drives deep enough for them to offer a compelling experience to the lifestyle gamer?

    1. Me too. And, No, there seems to be nothing. I think I know why: they want to keep it open enough that people set our own goals. But it eliminates CD7 by doing that. Like – Totally removes an entire Core Drive!

    2. I’m late to the discussion. In a way I believe that there’s a lot within the realm of gamification that can’t be truly implemented with any kind of tool. And I believe that to be a great thing.

      What can be implemented and quantified might stay on a somewhat superficial level whereas the potential of the different core drives is unlimited quality wise.

      That’s why I deeply appreciate the idea of the core drives and integrating those concepts or even principles into my way of organizing myself without getting stuck in the digital and externalizable aspects of things.

  4. Really inspiring article.

    I hope you keep expanding each one of this 4 points but meantime I will try to design a game as you say…. it could be the most challenging design I will ever try 🙂

    Stay awesome!

  5. The ballad of the noob… so many memories… hahaha
    Perseverance, i got it.
    Focus on your skills, get connections, point the goal, team up to face harder quests.
    I feel i am poor in connections, I am very individualistic, I’ve played most of the time in solo during my life (Virtual or Real) and honestly i like the way it is, makes me feel more accomplished.

  6. The Ballad of the Noob nailed it for me. All that planning and strategizing is worth nothing if you do not have the perseverance and resilience it takes to achieve your goals, even when you face set backs. In my case this is the one most crucial skill to master and gamification may be the key to it.

  7. You are the meaning of being epic.
    Thanks to you, my life starts to be healthier.

    I start to do “Tutorial Quests” to look if it fits for me.
    Next I will write some kind of “Storyline”.
    And this is just the first step.
    I’m looking forward.

  8. Although Gamification does not equal “playing games”, I do think that everyone should play strategy games a few times a month. But be sure not play as a brainless blob, but think why you are employing the strategies that you are employing. You will see that many of the winning strategies have similarities with best strategies for your own life, career etc.

    We all deal with social pressure, scarcity, impatience, our wish to be creative, to be empowered and to own things for example. And the emotions we experience are the same as in a game that uses the right triggers to make us engage.

    What a great discovery…gamification!

  9. @Aaron  People need not be a full time gamer, but I am quiet sure in their childhood days they would have surely enjoyed outdoor games, it is not only about the hard core games, anyone who pushes that extra bit for winning can use this.

  10. Mila Marjanac  Haha thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot to me. Feel free to ask me any questions about things you don’t understand!

  11. Im not a gamer, at ALL! And I like the analogy VERY much. They made games copying life-so just copy good games and you’re fine 🙂 they are always very thoughtfully made! So we need to try and think our lives before we start living them fully! Thank you Yukai 🙂 I like your site very much (although I dont get all the post 100% but this one I did!)

  12. The matter here (for me :P) is that I don’t know who I am now and in the future. Can not find out my way 🙁
    Thanks for ur share and will try to “mesure” myself first 😀

  13. Haha, sounds awesome! Thanks for the encouragement Saranyan!
    I actually think a lot of people can benefit from this post in terms of figuring out how to become successful in life. Too bad it is harder to digest for non-gamers 🙂

  14. Yu-kai, great post.
    Interesting life-gaming connection. Actually, when I think more about it, it fits well. Will need to catch up with your other blog posts later tonite 🙂


  15. Haha, yea Aaron, this article is definitely to a niche demographic. However, my goal is to get people who are great gamers to become great players in this real world. It is good to target a niche and write in their language 🙂

  16. Funny, I wonder how applicable this is to people who aren’t gamers. Obviously the information is still valid, but will they get the analogy as much?

  17. Great post, everyone needs to master his game of life. It’s just someone choose the passive way, someone choose the agreessive way. lots of times it depends on character, but it’s really important to everyone.

    I especially like it when you say: The first “build” of a character usually turns out crappy unless there’s guidance. Lots of people realize it when it’s too late. So this article become really valuable!

    Also, doing something you are passion about is really important, that’s the base of making a meaningful life.

    Keep the good work! 🙂

    1. Haha, I totally agree with you Olina. Everyone is playing a game. It just depends on what game do people choose to play and how active they are in it.

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