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Gameful Habits: Gameful Life

Gameful Habits: Gameful Life

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Gameful Habits: Gameful Life

166 pages
2 hours
Jun 24, 2021


Turn your daily practices into fun and exciting games.

Many people struggle to motivate themselves to start the day, work on a project, or maintain a healthy or otherwise beneficial habit. They consider many of their daily routines to be a necessary chore that they will never enjoy.
The pioneer of Self-Gamification — a unique approach to turning life into fun games — Victoria Ichizli-Bartels, has discovered another way for herself, and offers this possibility to others by sharing her experiences.

In this unconventional book on habits, Victoria shares the Super Sleeper game she created to ensure she got enough sleep, and how this success was extrapolated to the other habits and daily practices she wanted to develop.
Read Gameful Habits, and you will learn the three skill sets required to succeed in your self-motivational games, i.e. any habits, projects, challenges, tasks, or other activities turned into fun games. These skill sets are:

1. Seeing yourself, the world around you, and your thought processes non-judgmentally, as an anthropologist would do;

2. Identifying your dreams and goals, and taking action, one small and effortless step at a time, the kaizen way;

3. Applying gamification; that is, seeing and treating whatever you are up to like a game, and learning to appreciate every step on the way with gameful rewards.

These skill sets, which you can easily put into practice immediately — along with the awareness that when you turn your life into fun games, you are both the player and the designer of these games — will help you turn happiness into a lifestyle, and health and other beneficial practices into exciting games that you can't wait to design, play, and continue developing.

Jun 24, 2021

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Gameful Habits - Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Gameful Habits

How to Turn Your Daily Practices into Fun Games

Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Gameful Habits

How to Turn Your Daily Practices into Fun Games

Book 7 in Series Gameful Life

1st Edition

Copyright © 2021 Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved.

The author is neither a lawyer nor a health practitioner. This book and the content provided herein are based on the author’s opinion, personal experiences, and observations. Every effort has been made to ensure that the content provided in this book is accurate and helpful. However, the author of this book does not dispense legal or medical advice, either directly or indirectly. The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for physical and emotional well-being. In the event you use any of the information in this book for yourself, which is your constitutional right, the author (who is also the publisher) assumes no responsibility for your actions.

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate website addresses and other information at the time of publication, she does not assume any responsibility for errors or changes after publication. Further, the author does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for third-party websites and their content.

The author reserves the right to make any changes she deems necessary to future versions of the publication to ensure its accuracy.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the author.

Cover design by Alice Jago

The sleep time icon used on the cover is by corpus delicti, GR, via the Noun Project.

All trademarks and brands mentioned in this book are for clarifying and reference purposes only. Rather than putting a trademark symbol after every occurrence of a trademarked name, the names are used in an editorial fashion and to the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intention of infringement of the trademark. Where such designations appear in this book, and where the author (and publisher) was aware of that claim, they have been capitalized.

Some of the material in this book has originally appeared in the form of articles written and published on Medium.com by the author. The author has joined the Medium Partner Program and gets paid for her writing there. Any other trademarks and brands mentioned in this book are proprietary to their owners and are not affiliated with this document in any way.

The sources to the quotations made in the book are given before, after, or in the same places as the quotes in the text.

For my children, Niklas and Emma.

With your help, I was able to turn my daily practices — in particular those concerning sleep — into exciting games, where I finally became a winner, not a victim.

Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it.

— James Clear, Atomic Habits

1. Introduction

There probably isn’t an adult on Earth who wouldn’t like to maintain healthy or otherwise beneficial habits. There are multiple books and takes on the subject — mini, tiny, atomic, and probably many more. To get enough sleep; to stay healthy and mobile; to read daily; to create daily; and so on, and so on.

The birth of the Gameful Habits idea

I have many such ambitions too. And like many people, I used to get upset with myself when I couldn’t keep them up.

That changed when I started turning my life into games. Initially, my writing habit became gameful and fun. With time, many other things became gameful too, including getting enough sleep and exercising, despite having aching joints.

But habits are not the only activities I turn into games. I turn my whole life into games. Many of the games I play are short. I take on a task, often just a small piece of a bigger one, play that mini-game, reach its finish line, which is often marked by my timer going off, record my reward and move on to the next game.

Sometimes small games — mini, micro, or even atomic games — combine to form a bigger one, such as writing books or articles regularly. Writing a paragraph or sentence is such a mini or micro game, while writing a chapter is a level in a bigger adventure.

And then there is the game of maintaining healthy and other desired habits. These are more like the continuous, never-ending games of endless worlds.

One healthy habit, and my resistance to maintaining it, kept my engagement in the game of designing a game out of it highly intact. This habit was getting enough sleep. I kept a scoring system over the years, which resembled a self-made habit tracker, and recorded how much time I slept every day. I gave myself a badge (in the shape of a star, and later a self-drawn donut), first for six hours’ sleep, then increasing it in several increments until that reward-worthy level was exactly seven hours. But over time, these rewards no longer provided enough incentive for me to go to bed at a reasonable time.

In summer 2020, when I was about six months off becoming 48 years old, I finally admitted that I needed to set the minimum healthy amount of sleep for myself to at least seven hours¹ per 24 hours, and to record plus and minus points depending on whether I slept more or less than this specific amount of time.

And this was when the real trouble began. I found myself in red numbers. Well and truly. When I later converted my points back into hours, some time around the end of November or beginning of December 2020 (just before I managed to turn the game around), I was in a deficit of more than 40 hours of sleep. That meant forty hours of sleep deprivation. Forty hours!

Those minus forty hours were only from that half a year when I was actually keeping score. The real deficit was even more humongous if I considered the many years since early adulthood when I hadn’t kept count, but had often slept too little.

As I finalize the work on this introduction and the book as a whole, I am well in black numbers again, currently having more than eight hours in surplus over the minimum requirement of seven hours in every 24², multiplied by 274 days (corresponding to three quarters of a year since I started keeping score in this game).

My initial ambition for this game when I decided to turn it in my favor, and which since then I have called the Super Sleeper game, was to return my Sleep Score — the total points for the time I’ve slept since June 29, 2020 — to black numbers by the beginning of summer 2021. It is the beginning of April 2021 as I write this, and I have already reached this goal. Now, I have new ambitions and new levels to embark on. My overall well-being became a beautiful byproduct of making progress and having fun in this game.

So, my stubbornness combined with my reluctance to go to sleep on time, so ingrained since my childhood, made this game quite a challenge. You could say my stubbornness went both ways: I didn’t want to go to bed on time, but I didn’t want to stop trying either. And I’m glad it turned out that way.

Turning this particular habit — getting enough sleep — into fun games was in fact the trickiest and the most fun, as well as the most successful. The success I achieved and the lessons learned while doing this were why I initially intended to devote the whole book to just this one important habit.

But then I realized that my success in turning one habit into fun games inspired and led to my successes in many other areas. I realized that the gameful approaches I use to keep myself motivated and engaged apply to any habit, any practice I want to keep up for longer periods of time. And thus, the idea of Gameful Habits was born.

What is this book about?

Gameful Habits: How to Turn Your Daily Practices into Fun Games is about turning habits into fun games.

But what are habits? I will refer to their meaning and definition throughout the book — starting with the next chapter, 2. Failing and Succeeding with Healthy Habits. But here is what I consider them to be, because this understanding reflects how I approach them in my life and in this book.

Here is what I view habits as. They are either:

Activities in themselves that are performed regularly. Examples: Spending time with my loved ones, exercising, getting enough sleep, reading, creating (for me, writing and other work related to my books), eating healthily, stopping work and eating on time, avoiding foods my body doesn’t tolerate, relaxing.

How we approach different types of projects and activities (including those listed above). Examples: writing in the morning, during the lunch break, or in the afternoon; reading during breaks; writing in sprints (setting a timer); doing a few push-ups in the morning, right before or after the lunch break or in the evening; combining work at a computer with daily physical activities (e.g., using the Pomodoro Technique; you will see it mentioned again in chapter 4. What Are Self-Motivational Games?).

So Gameful Habits will show you that by turning your daily practices into exciting and engaging games, you can brighten your day and find your way back to the flow, happiness, and fun that you sometimes experience but will now do intentionally and repeatedly. It will show you all this without the need to study game design or psychology in detail.

When you are in the flow and enjoying what you do, you don’t need help. Some of your habits might be running on their own. You simply have fun with whatever you do. This book offers you tools to return to that happy state of mind when you are out of balance, when you are about to give up your healthy and beneficial practices, and you feel like the light around you has dimmed a little.

You will discover that you can only be happy if you become aware of the fact that you are both the player and the designer of your life’s games, including your habit games. This is the main message of this book. This will require you to be simultaneously kind, honest, and helpful to yourself, and to realize that only you can design games that will satisfy your changing, continually learning, and thus growing, player’s mind. This book will make you aware of the tools that are already in your hands, your head, in you.

What is this book NOT about?

This book is not about psychological research on the topic of habits. As the copyright statement declares, I have made every effort to ensure that the content provided in this book is accurate and helpful. It contains nothing other than the truth, as I see and experience it, and some of this truth and reality probably aligns with what psychology scholars say.

But I am neither a psychologist nor a researcher in this area. Nor am I a specialist in game or gamification design. My professional background started with semiconductor physics and electronic engineering (with a Ph.D.) and continued with information technology and business development. Since publishing my first book on turning life into fun games in 2016, it has embraced personal development.

There are many resources from which to learn about our behaviors — both in games and outside of them. With the help of this information, we can grasp how and why we keep up some habits and give up others. I got enormously inspired while reading Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James

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