Trends to End: Turning Everyday Tasks Into Games

Normally I don’t mind trends, so long as I don’t actually have to participate in them. However, there is one trend that needs to be over yesterday: turning everyday tasks into games.

For those of you who haven’t seen the onslaught of tasks-as-games app, here’s a brief run-down of some of the more popular ones:

  • 0Boxer: Organize Your Gmail and Have Fun Doing It
  • Epic Win: Level Up Your Life: Make Being Organized As Much Fun As Gaming with Epic Win-the to-do list app with an RPG setting
  • Chore Wars: Finally You Can Claim Experience Points for Housework

These are games that try to make everyday tasks fun. What’s my problem with them?

 

They Drag Out Tasks

What is most rewarding about chores or a long to-do list? Getting done with it is as soon as possible so you can move on to something else. The game aspect might make a task more enjoyable, but it’s still not going to be fun and I’m still not going to like having to do dishes. The game is going to take up more time that could be better used doing something that I actually enjoy, not just an improved version of something I don’t.

 

They Don’t Offer Any Incentive to Get Things Done Better, Faster, or More Efficiently

Games are nice and all, but NONE of them seem to offer any tips on how I can do better. 0Boxer doesn’t offer me tips on how I process my email faster to climb up the ranks, Chore Wars doesn’t tell me how I can better clean my floors, and Epic Win doesn’t give me any tips on the fastest route around the grocery store.

Maybe I’m asking for too much, but it seems that if you’re going to turn these tasks into a game with rules, they should at the very least come with a strategy guide.

 

If You Have Any Competitive or Obsessive Personality Traits, Kiss Productivity Good Bye

Anyone know anyone who’s hyper-competitive? Or who already tends to be a little overzealous about keeping their inbox empty? Yea, those are going to be the people who try these types of games first. And you know who will benefit the least from these games? You guessed it: hyper competitive and obsessive people.

Why is this such a bad thing for them? These are the people who get so hooked on the game those mundane tasks are going to become a critical part of their everyday lives-which is fine, except, well, they’re mundane tasks. Do they have to be done? Absolutely! Are they going to change your life in the same way that big project you should be working on will? No. They aren’t.

 

And For Everyone Else

Ok, so you’re not hyper-competitive or have an obsessive personality. Chances are you’ll be bored of the game in a few weeks. It’ll get old. You’ll move on.

This tasks-as-games trend needs to end now. It’s not helping productivity and it’s not really improving anything. Want to improve those mundane tasks? Reward yourself with something you LOVE to do after. Don’t use the latest tasks-as-games trend to do it.

Written by Leslie A. Joy

Leslie A. Joy is a marketing assistant, process manager, analytics geek, and blog editor at SUBERAPPS. You can find out more at her site, Social Media Mercenary.
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3 Comments »

 
#1
Dabestdefense
October 25th, 2010 at 7:57 am

I disagree completely with the author of the article on every count. I am excited to hear of this trend for the first time today. Sure I have seen similar things before, but never executed to this extent. The author is simply a poor target audience for the concept and is for no good reason irritated by the trend. I smell a negative Nancy who will criticize the early death of tasks as a game next week because there is no pleasing him…

They Drag Out Tasks. Perhaps tasks as a game could drag a task out, but the target audience is someone who is either avoiding or dragging the task out already. The ideal solutions is changing the mindset about the task from something that is tedious yet needs to be done for the simple reward of completing it, to something that is a bit more exciting to accomplish due to additional reward beyond the simple satisfaction of completing the necessary task. Sure it is at best a mental trick, but adding additional value to the task displaces the negative tedium of the task at hand. But heck I enjoy washing the dishes and sweeping my floors. Sure there are other things I would rather be doing most the time but thy are very rewarding things. Primarily it is that initial hump of, bleh the dishes, that needs to be cleared and the tasks as a game provides a boost in knocking that first hurdle down.

They Don’t Offer Any Incentive to Get Things Done Better, Faster, or More Efficiently. Come on, generally a game manufacturer does not release a game play guide to help you improve your gaming skills. You go to a third party vendor for such a guide. You go to the forums and comments to debate strategy with other competitors and teammates. There certainly already exists guides on how to clean your floor better or navigate the grocery story quicker. These games are in their infancy perhaps and will soon incorporate such suggestions or at least will provide an excellent gathering place for people looking to improve themselves at these tasks. Does the author have no imagination?

If You Have Any Competitive or Obsessive Personality Traits, Kiss Productivity Good Bye. The author’s logic completely falls apart here. I understand what he was trying, yet failed, to say: Those who get to involved with the tasks as games will spend far to much time then what they should on the tasks now because they are a game. What? Why, your floor is clean, the dishes are done, your inbox is clear, if the game is structured properly then you can really do no more! Now if you track mud into the house, eat, and send yourself email all for the purpose of being able to complete the tasks again then well I can see that is being a bit counter productive. But a properly structured game and a sane person will not allow for such craziness. This is simple, the game will give you greater points for preventative measures or sustained completion of the task. Rather than focusing on points for performing the task the game should award points for the sustained maintenance of the task’s end state. Every minute your inbox is empty, your dishes are clean, and you can see your reflection in the floor is a minute you gain the highest level of points. Of course a player should start mixing in every task, not just tedious chores, and rank them in priority, the higher the priority the greater the points. This way a player will not be cleaning their inbox when there is a work project to be completed or a more important task to get done. If anything, it is not the intrinsic nature of tasks as a game that will hinder productivity but a poorly formed task as a game setup.

And For Everyone Else. If a player gets bored or they can reward themselves without tasks as a game well then perhaps they are not suited for such a productivity tool or the productivity tool is not yet suited for them. Discounting the task as a game concept all together in its infancy is so short sighted.

I am very excited by the concept and its possibilities and I do thank the article for introducing me to the concept. I will hedge my bets against the author and assert that tasks a game will thrive rather than fritter. Would the world be better if people did not need such a crutch? Possibly. But we are not moving in that direction in society, we are entitled lazy bums for the most part and the concept of self motivation appears to be a lost art. With this developing trend there will be a great market for tasks as a game to sell and promote positive productivity at the same time.

Now I am off to create a task as a game competitor that even the author will not be able to resist…possibly one that encourages constructive criticism in blog posts.

 
 
#2
That Guy
October 27th, 2010 at 7:59 am

WALL OF TEXT.
I only read your first paragraph because blog comments really should be short…

I have tried these so called Game To-Do Apps… at first they are neat and quickly get dry and boring… I end up deleting whatever application or account I was using it with and end up going back to my regular to-do list. They generally take up too much time (rather than just putting a check in a checkbox you are then shown other options or virtual uninteresting rewards).

 
 
#3
Leslie A. Joy
November 2nd, 2010 at 12:31 am

I look forward to not only your game, but forthcoming productivity book. Seriously, anyone who can write a comment that long has their time management together. Please think of the rest of us and write one.

And while I may be a Negative Nancy, I’m at the very least a consistent one. I really will cheer when this trend is over.

I look forward to your game that you are convinced will win me over. In the meantime, I will work on a game that will coach people in sarcasm and correctly identifying the gender of bloggers.

 

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