Game of (Real) Life

Posted by in Intriguing




While reading a Scientific American article last month, I came across a very intriguing concept about using games in real life. In his article “The Game of Life,” John Pavlus promotes the idea of incorporating “games,” or more importantly the aspects of point totaling and positive reinforcement, into everyday aspects of life to change social behavior.

For example, a “scoreboard” in your house will keep track of your energy usage and give you a corresponding score so that you can instantaneously and constantly monitor your progress. In addition to the individual feedback, this score can then be used by, say, the government to then provide additional incentives, such as tax cuts, for those homeowners with “good scores.”   This “game-ification” could revolution our social behavior, and for the optimist, change humanity for the better.

However, even I had my reservations when initially read about this concept.  It is an incredibly novel approach to addressing social awareness and its potential seems unlimited. But creating the infrastructure is the first hurdle that would have to be overcome. Also, are we certain that people would really alter their actions based on their life score? And even more so, are humans that simple to change their social behavior because they are having fun?

At the very least, I think I can prove that the answer to the last question is an emphatic YES! Psychology has proven in countless experiements the power of positive reinforcement and the influence of “having fun” can have on learner. Look at the development of Sesame Street.  And what about this scientific evidence–hard to argue with this video. That may work well for children, but what about adults? Once again, I empathically say YES!  Granted I don’t have any evidence readily available, but one’s intuition is usually correct for a reason.

Despite the obvious challenges that would have to be dealt with, I believe this could actually work.  It is clearly a HUGE financial setback initially to create such a system and distribute it to every citizen, but I believe it would work.  Obviously it would be necessary to implement a pilot study to a small sample population to ensure the success of the program.  Once that is results prove effective, then we’ll address the money issue.

I say let’s do it.  My competitive nature would take over, which would lead me to become an even more responsible citizen.  And even better yet, gives me something us to “win.”  See…Everybody wins!