Gamifying Life

A few weeks ago I wrote about living out motivational montages in real time and how important it is to sharpen skills on a daily, if not, consistent basis. The core argument was learning to push yourself to do the work, brick by boring brick, instead of expecting instant results like movie montages portray progress.

For some of you it may be enough to accept this reality and practice your skills daily whether you like it or not. For the others who may have an aversion to boredom, like myself, you might need an extra push in order to thrive in the grind. So today I present to you the concept of Gamifying Life.

What Are Games?

Sounds like a weird question to pose because the basic answer is pretty obvious. Games are things you play either alone or with other people to have fun. But if you’re familiar with Your Write to Live by now, you know we I don’t know due basic answers here.

I’ve stressed the importance of gamers knowing themselves in order to get the best out of not only the games we play, but also the everlasting benefits games can have on our lives. And it’s all those thought patterns and modes of behavior we develop when gaming we can take into our real lives and live by the same principles.

To take a deeper look at games, they are fun and engaging activities with a certain set of rules to play by and multiples goals to achieve in the context of a set of parameters. Achieving goals in a game requires you act out a set of several actions, a lot of which require varying levels of skill in order to enact.

For instance, the goal in basketball is to shoot the ball into the hoop to score points, and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins. But before you can successfully shoot a ball into the hoop there are a variety of actions you can take before you can even attempt a shot:

  • Playing within the bounds of the court.
  • Continuously dribbling the ball.
  • Passing the ball to teammates.
  • Blocking other players from getting the ball passed to them.
  • Knocking the ball out of an opponent’s hands
  • Positioning yourself on the court based on your given role.
  • And so on and so forth.

Shooting the ball into the hoop is the main goal, but there are smaller goals you need to achieve in order to achieve the main goal. If you want to break it down further, you also have to take in account how a basketball player is capable of skillfully performing any of these actions, and that’s obviously through practice.

But then even practicing becomes a game itself because leading up to drills and practice games is the game a basketball player has to play off the court. They need to keep in shape so they have to watch their diets and workout to improve their strength and stamina.

And these things get tracked numerically because numbers reveal the results of our actions. Just as it is on the court when the team with the most points win, thus validating the collective games each individual team member has “won” before playing the main game.

At the broadest perspective, games are a set of goals we need to achieve in order to build toward a bigger goal. Some smaller goals aren’t always necessary, but they can play a big part in increasing our chances at achieving the bigger goals. At the perceived end of the game a numerical value and/or some other criteria measures how well participants have played the game.

Keeping Score in Order to Score

Life becomes infinitely more fun to live when you approach it as if it’s a game. And in a way, life really is the ultimate game because of all the mini-games you need to play in order to make the most out of it. One way to do that is by taking stock, especially when you’re stuck. What we measure grows, so if you’re keeping track of your progress in whatever you choose to do, you can always compare your scores across time.

So if you’re a writer like me, one goal you can set for yourself is to write a certain amount of words a day. This could be 500-1000 or even more depending on how ambitious you would like to go about it. On top of that you can also create side objectives such as outlining and researching for your story that increases its chances of landing with the reader. Learning from writing guides and from a writing coach can also help you increase your chances of improving your work.

If publishing a novel is your goal then writing it is the game you need to play to achieve that goal. Depending on how much work you’ve put into your novel you could sell about half or a full million copies in the first week of its release. If you sold a somehow really good first and only draft to a publisher, maybe you could sell about 100,000 copies on your first week of release. You could maybe even triple it to 300,000 if you took the time to revise that draft and sell a polished up one, 500,000 if you had a skilled editor help you with that.

(Throw in a writing coach to help you get a better understanding of your ideas and help you express them in the most intriguing and meaningful way possible, and maybe you’d even sale that 1,000,000 copies upon the first week of your novel’s release. 😉

While all this extra work isn’t a guarantee you could sell your novel in those great numbers, they can definitely increase your chances at doing so. Life itself is a game of chance and you can pull the odds in your favor the more you sharpen your skills and measure your progress toward your goals.

Playing, Progress, and Presence (Oh My!)

A lot of our lives are measured through our level of productivity. If you’re not being productive, you’re wasting your time, a lot of people seem to think. But I’ve argued before that life should be more about presence, not productivity. Productivity for a lot of people implies all else is a waste of time and you have no value if you’re not being productive.

We often measure ourselves and others by how much we do as opposed to looking inward and focusing on how present we can be. And so what happens when you play games? You’re immersed in the moment and attentive to all the details surrounding you. You’re focused on timing your movements with the moment to get the perfect shot. You’re having fun and get into what we call “the zone.”

So if we approach life and writing like a series of games we need to play, we’ll have a much better time at engaging with our passion rather than seeing all the “boring” aspects of it as tedious things that we need to get out of the way. It’s all part of the process and contributes to your progress when you approach it from a level of presence over productivity.

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