Gamification for positive habits

For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed video games.  If there’s leveling up, character optimization, or strategic battles to be had, I’m in.  At my worst, I can burn an entire Sunday; I’ll admit that I’ve banned myself from playing DOTA2 after one too many late nights.

At their best, video games can be a vehicle for me to work on my goals.  For example, I’ve been changing the language settings on my videogames to Spanish.  I’m not learning a ton of practical vocabulary, sure, but immersion is a great thing, even if it’s silly.

The vocabulary can be a little silly, but immersion is good.

A newer concept for me is Gamification.  At it’s core, gamification is about turning stuff that you want to get done into a game.  Duolingo is a simple example of this.  Complete vocabulary lessons to level up and unlock new lessons.  When accomplishing tasks results in leveling up and earning rewards, the same compulsion that lead me to waste my teen years playing Everquest will now work in my favor.  That’s the idea, at least, and I manage to keep up with Duolingo fairly well.


HabitRPG is MUCH more ambitious with this concept.  It goes all out, giving you an avatar with the ability to earn mounts, group up with friends, and fight bosses.  You get to choose your “quests” so it can be tailored for whatever purpose you’d like.  If you set a daily goal to study for one hour, you’ll gain experience points and gold for completing it, but take damage each day you feel to check it off.  You can then spend accumulated gold to buy rewards that you specify, or in-game swag.

There’s no doubt that consistency and repetition are the keys to setting up positive habits.  This is where a tool like HabitRPG shines- it rewards positive habits in a fun and imaginative way.

I’m setting up my HabitRPG account to encourage more productive use of my free time.  In a future blog post, I’ll reflect on how gamification can be used in the laboratory.