How to Win At Life: Top 5 Ways to Gamify Everything

Video Games Can Improve Your Life

At speeds in excess of 200 mph, Formula 1 drivers can’t afford to make mistakes. They need to know every corner of every track, memorize the optimal race line and spend hours practicing. But F1 cars are fragile, multimillion-dollar beasts and their gas is jet-fuel expensive. So they practice with driving controllers and games like Codemaster’s F1 series. Pilots, musicians, athletes all use some sort of game to hone their skills away from the plane, the stage, or the field. But that’s the tip of the iceberg, and just about every aspect of our lives can be enjoyed or enriched via a video game-like experience.

Get Rich and Productive

Financial planning can seem boring and opaque to many people, but obviously managing your money is a critical life skill. There are many accessible financial planning tools like YNAB, but if you want to track your money while earning game-like experience points and leveling up, check out Smarty Pig, which turns your savings goals into an RPG-like progress bar. Getting your cash flow under control is great, but what about organizing the rest of your life? You know, those pesky appointments and lists and reminders that some of us tend to forget on the regular. Try Todoist Karma, which replaces that nagging interior voice with gamified points, quest-like objectives and even gentle penalties for failure. Even more fun is Bounty Tasker, which essentially turns you into a role playing game character and your daily routine into a series of quests.

Get Fit

Thanks to technology, getting in shape has never been easier. And yet, a casual stroll through your nearest big box store will suggest that many people aren’t terribly motivated to improve their fitness level. Maybe they just need a gamified approach, and if so, there’s a dizzying array of products. First, there are dozens of excellent apps that run on mobile devices and are connected to smart watches or wearable fitness trackers. Many of these have been around for years, such as Zombies,Run!, which uses hungry undead to motivate the reluctant jogger. If you’re a competitive-minded gamer, you can check out Fitocracy, Jefit, Couch to 5K, or Strava, all of which have the user earn XP as they work out or feature leader boards and a healthy community to compete against. Or, skip the wearable trackers and just buy an Oculus Quest 2, because there are many excellent fitness apps and music games for that system that will definitely work your cardiovascular system.

Get Together and Get Centered

Relationships, mental health and emotional well-being track right along with physical fitness as keys to a happy and rewarding life, but all three can be fraught with confusion, conflict and the fear of the unknown. Seeking mental health advice or other forms of counseling is still somewhat clouded by shame, though by and large that’s improving. Ignoring the obviously well known dating apps (which, as a decades-long happily married person I tend to do), let’s look at a few general mental health and happiness apps and games. First is SuperBetter, which was actually created by a game designer and which “builds resilience – the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of change and difficult challenges. Playing SuperBetter unlocks heroic potential to overcome tough situations and achieve goals that matter¬†most.” For folks already in a relationship, the game-like approach of Relationship Hero just might be the key to making it better and more lasting. Framing mental health as the hero’s journey in an RPG setting, eQuoo is based on proven, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, sneakily hidden in game form. Oh, and if you want to play a two person co-op game that centers around a divorcing couple, check out It Takes Two.

Everyone is pretty aware by now that a mindfulness or meditation practice is as beneficial as exercise or wise eating choices, and there are many mediation apps like 10 Percent Happier, Waking Up and others. But if you want to actually game your way to enlightenment, the Steam and Oculus stores have you covered. Check out Playne: The Meditation Game, or GuidedMeditation VR.

Get Skilled

Whether you want to practice flying a Cessna into LAX, play guitar like Eddie Van Halen, or memorize the Grand Prix circuit in preparation for your next race, there is a game or simulation just for you, and they’re so good that flight training schools, professional drivers and working musicians rely on them. Want to learn the basics of making a video game? Check out the recent Game Builder Garage for the Nintendo Switch. Want to know what it’s like to drive a truck through snow or mud? Play Mud Runner. The upcoming Rocksmith+ is a great way to get started on guitar or bass, and Microsoft’s amazing Flight Simulator is soon to appear on the Xbox Series X. F1 2021 is the latest entry in a franchise so true to life that real Formula 1 drivers hone their chops playing it.

Get Smart

Can playing games make you smarter? Maybe. At the very least, playing games can stave off cognitive decline and keep reflexes sharp. If you want to dive a little deeper than brainiac classics like chess, Tetris or Sudoku, then we suggest CogniFit (less a game and more a collection of exercises), BrainItOn (devious and challenging physics puzzles), Cognito and Peak, a game of IQ-boosting puzzles and exercises. If you want to be a little less obvious in your educational aspirations and want more of a “game” game, there are almost too many great titles to consider. A few games that have made us feel smarter for having succeeded (after feeling dumb for not) include the still-classic Portal 2, Baba is You, The Talos Principal, The Witness, Space Chem, and Unheard.¬†

Ok, your life is now in order and you have a clear direction. Soon you will be happier, smarter, more fit, more skilled, richer, and in a rewarding relationship and best of all, you never have to stop playing games. You’re welcome.

Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.

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