A Geek Dream Come True

It looks like I’ve found it. The one thing in real life that gives me that same “just one more quest…” feeling of an MMO.

Swimming.

No, seriously.

Stop laughing!

I even wear a swim cap, googles, earplugs and a nose plug. Now you can laugh.

An accurate visual, but you’ll have to imagine all the splashing and gasping for yourself.

Being underwater is definitely the best part; when I come up for air is when I’m wheezing in air, fiddling with the water leaking into my goggles, and readjusting the nose plug slipping off my too-small nose bridge. Underwater is much calmer.

I’m doing a 0 to 1 mile program that’s structured enough to qualify as vaguely gamified, and thus the topic’s been on my mind a bit. I certainly have enough underwater time to mull it over.

There’s bad gamification; vapid levels, badges, and achievements slapped onto any and everything without a second thought, generally in the pursuit of selling something.

Good gamification is generally either an actual game, or tries to help people do something good for them by making it into an actual game i.e. Chore Wars. These can do a great job of making something hard more interesting, but only so much of this can be handled at a time. Because the levels, experience, and other game mechanics are acting as the rewards, and those get boring before long.

This one’s both kinds of good gamification, an amusing time suck that also trains us for the inevitable plant-phobic zombie outbreak

After thinking about it for a bit, I’ve decided that in my example, swimming is neither a bad nor good example – it’s excellent.

Here’s why: once I realized I like swimming, I would do it regardless. But having a system of gradually working up my distance gives me something to shoot for rather than just idly dogpaddling around the pool. This has taken something I already like and find rewarding, and made it better and even more reinforcing.

So bad mouth gamification all you want (I’m looking pointedly at The Geek here), but don’t throw out its potential for good because of its poor implementation.

Also, because I would like to one day live in a world where when I’m coming home from a social outing my Google Glass gives alerts me that I’ve earned a level in small talk but unfortunately also unlocked the achievement for 5 awkward silences in an evening, and that I also unknowingly made a weird face twice (but that no one noticed, whew!). The future!

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