10 Ways to Gamify Your Life Today

pacman food

You may not be aware, but life is a giant game:

  • It’s meant to be enjoyed.
  • It’s supposed to be challenging but not impossible (even though it can feel that way).
  • You get to be any character you want.
  • You have a chance to level up in whatever style you see fit – school, business, sports, gymnastics, etc.
  • It has a built in social network!

“Life is a game” is the platform on which Nerd Fitness has been built – looking at life like a giant video game and using the addicting and enjoyable  aspects of video games  to better yourself in the real world.  Although I’ve already covered leveling up in the game of life, in a TEDx talk, and in an upcoming game, today I want to have some fun.

Today, I want to teach you how to gameify even the smallest tasks and activities and make them (and your life) more enjoyable.

Life is a game

Take a few minutes and watch the video, “Games We Play,” and I bet you’ll find yourself saying “Man, I remember when I used to do stuff like that!”

The Games We Play (video)

I then stumbled across “Never Leave the Playground” from my buddy Vic – it’s about this awesome old guy who stays limber and quick witted (and completely crazy) by turning everything into a game.

Think about it: As kids, we create games to make the most mundane tasks seem exciting.  Sure, we’re not born heroes, but it doesn’t mean we can’t create epically fun adventures, even with normal tasks, right?  When we’re 10 years old or younger, these are things we do naturally.  Unfortunately, as we grow up, the concept of playing and making up games doesn’t keep up with cubicles, couches, and (eventually) cardiac issues.

Damn public opinion (who wants to fit in with the majority, anyways?), here are some fun ways to gamify your life TODAY, helping you become more healthier, happier, and more productive.

The games I play

A photo of a man running

The tree game: If you enjoy going for a run and find yourself growing tired or bored, turn it into a game.  Pick a tree 100 yards ahead and do whatever you can to get there as quickly as possible…after all, that’s the tree you need to run past!  Once you’ve run past the tree, you can slow down and recover, until you notice another tree (or marker further ahead) that you you have to make it to that tree by hopping.  The next tree, maybe, you have to do it in as few steps as possible.  Stop. Go. Fast. Slow.  Plays out like a game and trains you like interval training.  Everybody wins!

The music game: I love trying to accomplish boring tasks as quickly as possible.  I also happen to love music.  So, I use music to my advantage and help me complete tasks more quickly.  Every morning when I take a shower, I put on a song right as I’m getting in the shower (generally something from my Epic Playlist), and I have to complete my shower by the time the song is done.  If I am trying to clean up my apartment (whenever I actually HAVE a home), I’ll put on a song and tell myself that I only have to clean for that one song, but I have to get as much done during that song as possible.  Most of the time, I end up cleaning for more than one song…but we all know it’s the “getting started” part that slows us down.

The “waiting for the game to load” game: If you’re a gamer, you probably spend a good chunk of your time on your couch waiting for the next deathmatch or zone to finally load.  Rather than sitting on your ass and staring at the screen like a dope, try this – every loading screen, complete as many reps of one of the exercises below:

After four loading screens, congrats! You’ve just completed a full workout!  Good luck owning n00bs.

The email game: I recently taught you all about productivity and how I’ve completely revolutionized my email inbox by simply applying a few key rules.  I’ve turned it into a game by only giving myself a certain amount of time to spend in my inbox, and the inbox must be at zero by the end of the countdown!  It turns out I’m not the only person that thinks this type of gamification is necessary for emails.  There’s actually an “email game” that you can play that awards you points for getting in and out of your inbox as quickly as possible.

The “ground is lava” game: The next time you’re on a playground, pretend like you have to get from one side of it to the other.  Obviously don’t go disturbing the children that are playing, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it too.  You might need to jump from bench to bench, swing to swing, use the monkey bars, climb on top of things and under others.  Think of it like a combination of Ninja Warrior and Assassin’s Creed.

The supermarket game: I’m going to expand on this in a future article, but every time I’m in a supermarket, I think of myself as a contestant on Supermarket Sweep.  I’m awarded points for buying healthy things (vegetables and fruits) and negative points for buying unhealthy foods.  On top of that, I have a time limit. I must get in and out of the store as quickly as possible!  The less time I spend in the store, the more points I get.  You should see me in a self-checkout line: I put everybody else to shame with my efficiency.  Is it weird that I seriously take pride in that?

The hunting game: Credit goes to Mark’s Daily Apple for this game.  If you’re out running in a park, pretend like you’re hunting prey by picking a target way ahead of you and trying to secretly, but quickly, sneak up on them (as if you were a hunter).  Once they’ve been “hunted,” move onto your next target.  Obviously you’re not going to get really close to them, freak anybody out, or get arrested, so please make sure you have pants on when running through the park.  My nemesis, Joel, takes a different approach and hunts cute butts.  Not a bad strategy either!

The airport game: I think of my time in the airport line as if I’m on a NASCAR pit crew.  To start, I scan each line when I get to the airport to find the one with the most optimal chance for speed – no little kids, no strollers, no wheelchairs, etc.  I then have to remove all necessary articles of clothing, items in my pockets, shoes, belt, laptop, toiletries, and have them in the security line bins as quickly as possible.   Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous to think of this as a game, and you’d probably be embarrassed to be flying with me when we go through the line, but for how much I travel, I manage to find fun in this.

The “zombies are chasing me” game: There’s a reason apps like Zombies Run! and races like Run For Your Lives! are so dang popular.  Feeling like you’re getting chased by zombies is one hell of a motivator. So imagine you’re being chased.  Pay your friends to chase you (kidding, kind of). Regardless of who or what is after you, imagine that you need to get from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Scale stairs, vault over benches, jump over ditches, roll down hills; do whatever you need to.  These parkour skills will probably come in handy once the apocalypse actually begins!

What games do you play?

jumping sunset

“But Steve, that’s only nine!” That’s because I want you to come up with the tenth.

What games do you play to pass the time and make your life more exciting?

I don’t care HOW mundane the task is, I’d love to hear it.

I feel like giving away something today, because free stuff is awesome.  Whoever comes up with the most clever game that also improves your health, wellness, or productivity will win your choice of the Rebel Fitness Guide, Rebel Strength Guide, or Rebel Running Guide.

The Nerd Fitness team and I will pick our favorite.

Submit your answer by leaving a comment on this article by Sunday the 2nd at 11:59PM.

Good luck, and game on!



Photo Sources: Giorgio Pulcini © 123RF.com,  Marco Bernardini – Play with Food, R’eyes – Bring me to life

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