Have you considered turning your life into a video game? And no, we’re not referring to this TikTok trend.
Whether you’re trying to hack your fitness, learn a new language, or be a generally more productive person, you can mirror the psychology of video games as a tool to help you stay motivated and on task. We’ve covered the psychology of gamification, as well as specific tips to gamify all aspects of your life in our guide to incentivising everything. We’ve also discussed the science of gaming in general. Let’s dive in some more.
What to look for in a gamified app
There’s no shortage of apps designed to “gamify” your life. The “gamified” description is trendy, so when you’re pursuing the app store, look for products with the following features:
- Regular updates
- Bite-sized goals (and attainable rewards)
- Social sharing options
- Fun gameplay (to be effective, the app should be genuinely enjoyable and engaging)
Ready to play? Here are our top nine gamified apps for all different areas of your life.
General productivity: Habitica
Formerly known as HabitRPG, Habitica is a fan favourite for a reason. This all-around productivity booster keeps you on top of your to-do list by turning it into an epic quest. When you check off a task or complete a project, you’re rewarded with experience points and gold, the same way you would be in a role-playing game.
Task management: Todoist
What sets Todoist apart from other project management apps is the Karma feature. For every task you finish, you get good karma points; for missing a deadline, you get negative karma. Todoist is easy to use and great for visualising, tracking, and boosting your productivity.
Staying focused: Forest
Forest is perfect if your goal is simply to not get distracted by all the other temptations on your phone. When you want to stay focused, plant a tree in the app. Your tree grows while you stay on task, but if you leave the app with time remaining, your tree dies. Even if you aren’t doing the task you set out to do, at least you won’t be scrolling on social media while you let your tree grow.
Plus, Forest partners with a real tree-planting organisation called Trees for the Future. You can spend virtual coins so that Forest donates to trees being planted in the real world.
Personal finance: Mint
Arguably the least game-like app on this list, Mint is a free budgeting tool that’s gamified in that all the progress bars, checklists, and leaderboards work together to motivate you. You can set financial goals with personalised insights, custom budgets, spend tracking, and subscription monitoring.
Note: When it comes to gamifying your finances, be wary of apps that gamify investing. According to Dan Egan, Managing Director of Behavioural Finance at Betterment, “the platforms that gamify investing are trying to make money for themselves, not you, so the rewards are not necessarily optimised around you growing your money.” Proceed with caution.
Language learning: Duolingo
Duolingo is easily the best (or most well-known) free language app. Rote memory work is no way to learn a language, and Duolingo’s lessons are all framed around challenges and rewards so that you can level up. Plus the anime-eyed owl mascot, Duo, is famously aggressive when it comes to sending you daily reminders.
Haven’t we all started learning a new instrument, only to quit sometime around the “hot cross buns” stage? Yousician is like an educational Guitar Hero. The app listens with your device’s microphone while you play an instrument or sing, and it’s a fun and easy way to learn techniques, practice new songs, and put your skills to the test without expensive music lessons.
Health and fitness: Fitocracy
You could argue that humans gamified fitness with the advent of, well, sports. But if you’re struggling to get yourself to the gym, you can incentivise yourself with Fitocracy badges and achievements that are within reach for users of all fitness levels. It’s motivating to visualise your progress in the app, and specific “quests” are another way to stay committed to your fitness goals.
Building resilience: Super Better
The app claims to use a game design based on “a framework that activates the psychological strengths of game play to build resilience and be stronger for life.” SuperBetter employs its own sort of language to immerse you in the gamification:
- Power-ups: any achievements that spark positive emotions
- Quests: how you track your daily and weekly goals
- Bad guys: negative habits or mindsets you want to overcome
- Allies: strong, positive social relationships
- Future boosts: anything you’re looking forward to, which can be used as motivators
Putting adventure back in your life: EpicWin
EpicWin brings a true role-playing feel to your boring old to-do list. Rather than just ticking off your chores and reminders, completing each one earns you XP to improve and develop your character in an ongoing quest to improve stats, gain riches, and level-up. Now, enough with this side quest, and good luck on your main journey.