Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Challenge Update!

By Angie
Playing the Game
Ok folks, confession time. Remember a while back when I wrote about Chore Wars and implementing games into real life tasks… well, here’s our story. We signed up for an account and then got completely overwhelmed by the variety of options and trying to balance the quests and rewards. Loved the principle, but felt like we needed a complex spreadsheet to set up the game and figure out how much things should be worth and what it would all mean for us. The default list of quests didn’t really apply to the things we wanted to do, and after a couple of hour-long discussions about it we ended up doing… nothing. Hmm.
Now What?
Despite our epic fail with Chore Wars, I was still intrigued by the idea. I kept thinking “How can I add just a touch of fun and motivation to make all these household tasks a bit more tolerable??”  I’ve been reading this amazing book called Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World written by my real life hero Jane McGonigal (more about her inspiring work in a future post!). Anyhow, in this book she discusses how games make us happier, inspire us, and can evoke a powerful sense of optimism and personal triumph. Meanwhile, I’m drudging through my day getting defeated by never-ending mountains of laundry and the wake of destruction my toddler creates as he moves through the house. There’s got to be a better way…
A New Quest
My character!
Enter Epic Win. Epic Win is a to-do list app for the iPhone/iPad. It’s simple and elegant and EXACTLY what I needed. You pick a character, enter some to-do’s, and you’re off on a grand adventure. When you enter a task, you select which attribute it will be associated with; strength for physical jobs, stamina for jobs that require some endurance, intellect for brain work, social for things dealing with people, and spirit for things that increase your well-being or help out someone else. You also select how much experience it will be worth, ranging from 50-300 points. You can easily do things like set tasks for specific days, set alarms, and have them repeat when desired. The whole interface is slick and simple. As you go through your day you can log your completed quests by holding down the exp symbol, and you get a satisfying quick animation and sound effect. In addition, your character levels up and gains stats based upon the attribute associated with the quests you complete. Complete a lot of manual tasks and your avatar will gain strength, homework and paying bills and your character will gain intellect. Completing quests also moves you along a map, gains you some gold, and can result in a piece of random loot when you get to certain places on the map.

What's this all about?
Today's to-do list.. what's left of it!
The reason this works for me is that it helps me to organize my goals, and feel a small (but important) sense of accomplishment and achievement when I finish something. I’m curious what the next “prize” will be, and feel proud that my intellect has gone up because I finished all my homework. I find myself doing “just one more” little job around the house to see if I can level up. Since it’s just my own personal game, I don’t have to worry if things are balanced or fair. If I feel like taking out the trash at the end of the day is a feat of epic strength worth 300 exp, then so be it. It’s a simple way for me to incentivize the little things in my life. I like looking over my “beaten quests” for the day and realizing how much I accomplished rather than looking around seeing how much there still is to do. I’ve managed to make time for playing guitar simply because it was on the list as a quest and therefore seemed important enough to do. Randy started playing Epic Win too and has been spotted doing push-ups and extra chores just to get a little more experience points before bed. We’re focusing more on things that are important for our well-being, and having some fun doing it. It basically boils down to a stylish to-do list, but for me it gave a much needed dash of flair and fantasy to the hum-drum tasks of ordinary life.

Your Move!
We found something that works for us, did you? We’d love to hear if you gave any thought to the challenge, and how you fared. Any game ideas or cool programs/apps/stories? Leave us some comments!!


  1. Excellent article!

    I use the very same application to keep track of and schedule the web work I need to do with my own site.

    Nothing more exciting then receiving new loot!

  2. I actually ended up using Chorewars after you mentioned it. It took a bit to set up, but once I got the hang of setting up new quests I think I had most of them made in about 30 minutes or so. I suppose it could be overwhelming, but I didn't really feel the need for it to be perfectly balanced as it's main goal was to make doing chores in to a game. My wife is crushing me in XP.

  3. Hi! Sorry it took so long to reply. Creating the quests and such wasn't the overwhelming part. Our hangup was that we were planning on using CW gold as a currency among ourselves to use for night out, new toys, etc. We were having a hard time balancing the workload so that one person didn't always end up with the lion's share of the wealth. I think we probably should have started using it, then tweaked the XP/gold to balance it before deciding on rewards. :)