Thursday, March 31, 2011

Color Me Gameful

Like any real scientist, I will need to do a lot of experiments. Yesterday I decided to start with myself. I have had lack of motivation recently. This is mostly because currently my job is a bit fragmented: there are individual tasks here and there, and there are no clear milestones in sight. I started reading McGonigal's book and while reading I realized that if I am to promote this gamification or gameful design, I might as well try it on myself first. Sure, I could have done a task list for milestones like normal people but where's the fun in that?

So I turned my job into a game, of sorts. It's not a hugely impressive design I'm afraid, but it will help me do some things such as keeping a sight on my goals and get a sense of progress, every day. I decided to stick to very basic gameful techniques: experience points, levels and achievements. I wrote a character sheet on the whiteboard in my office, with my name on it, my character class (scientist / game designer), my level and experience. In addition I also wanted to see a bit what I'm doing most, so I added six skills and levels for them as well: programming, writing, design, reading, networking and researching. This is my feedback. At any time during the day I can gaze up from my computer and see how I'm doing.

With feedback system in place, it was time to set some goals. I wanted to call them quests. I decided to divide my tasks into storylines, quests and side-quests. Storylines are larger tasks which consist of several quests. Side-quests are quests that I'm supposed to complete on my own time, and they include mostly designing games for pure entertainment. I assigned an experience point reward for each quest, based on my expectation of how long it will take me to do it. Some tasks I know I don't particularly like I gave some bonus on top to make them more lucrative. In addition, completing a storyline yields bonus experience on top of the quests it's made of.

Finally I added achievements. I will need to think more of these, but the basic purpose is to keep me more challenged and engaged. One important set of achievements are awarded for getting results every day. To earn these achievements, I need to gain experience points every day. Even on weekends (side-quest exp). Vacation is excluded though, because when I'm traveling around somewhere I don't have many chances to do anything productive and, frankly, I don't think I should. I would like to especially come up with achievements that require me to do tasks in a certain way, but it's hard to come up with these just now.

Like I said, these are very basic techniques and I should do a lot better in the future. However, this experiment is meant just for myself, so I'll let it slide. It's also interesting to see if this succeeds in making me more motivated, even if it's really basic. Now, this should be achievable with to do lists and such, but I feel more motivated to keep this going if in itself it supports my goals. While I might not be able to write a paper on this, I am looking forward to learning something. Oh, and getting my job done better. I have also suggested a similar system for our game development team.

Let's see how it goes, I'll be reporting! After all, one set of achievements requires me to blog once per week.

1 comment:

  1. WHOOOT!

    Also doing research in the field, I also feel the need for experimentation and I think I'll join you on this if you don't mind =D

    As I read through your post I drew up a page with my levels and quests which I will revise tonight and try add some achievements and so on =D
    If you'd like we can swop quests and things that's relevant for both our thesis's? Like, 'finish list of contents 30 points' and so on ^_^

    maybe we can start something like this on the gameful student's group =P