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Creating good games

As long as you're alive, you are playing games

A game is a specified activity in which we take actions, or avoid taking actions, in order for something to turn out differently in a way that we think we would prefer compared to how we think it would turn out without those actions. Also, we can view or design games as parts of bigger games, as well as view and design sub-games as part of games we are already playing.

Examples of games:


  • The game of losing weight

  • The game of chopping up some broccoli

  • The game of keeping our agreements with others

  • The game of impressing a new prospect in our business

  • The game of avoiding being blamed by our mother

  • The game of trying to defend ourselves by blaming another for blaming us

It's hard, if not impossible, to find anything that is not a game. In fact, how we view and engage with the games in our life is the most important factor in determining the quality of (and also) the results in our life.

Choosing and designing the games we play

Most of the games we play we have taken on by default, not recognizing how much flexibility we have in choosing which games to play as well as playing games in a different way.

A good Chinese friend of mine shared with me recently an inspiring story of how she created a game that worked for her in a challenging circumstance.

My friend's story

About three months ago my friend was blindsided by a debilitating set of physical symptoms that severely sapped her energy. With a combination of doctor-prescribed medicines, while adding in her own self-directed decisions, she slowly started to get better. 

Within the past few weeks, she felt good enough that she was getting bored, yet not feeling so good that she could enjoy engaging her mind in the way she had previously been able to do. 

She discovered a simple "mindless" Internet game that she could play on her phone, part dexterity and part luck. Within a given time period, as a game player, she would click a pop-up button as quickly as possible (the dexterity part). She would then be rewarded with a random number of points for each button clicked (the luck part). Hundreds of Chinese would play this game at the same time. At the end of the game, she would be shown her score as it ranked against all the other players. 

My friend, to make this game somewhat challenging but not too much so, decided to compare herself with the lowest scorer. If she wasn't the lowest, then she saw herself as winning. In fact, she often did much better than that, sometimes reaching as high as the median scores. She's gotten into the game and enjoys playing it several times each day, helping her be more satisfied in the everyday process of being alive. 

The takeaway

We have an almost immeasurable amount of choice, flexibility, and creativity to gamifying our life. Let's get good at it.

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