Monday, 8 August 2011

Scrub and ding?

I've been reading 'Reality is Broken' by Jane McGonigal over the last few months.  No... I'm not *that* slow a reader - I just find it's one of those books that is best dipped into in short bursts.  She's essentially one of the proponents of 'gamification' of life,  but I'm not about to debate whether that is a 'good' or 'bad' thing.  People get exceptionally hot under the collar when it comes to gamification, from the posts I've read, and I'm not about to enter into the fray.  Just spout off a little...

Ok - who loves housework?  ALL housework?  Really?  Ok, you can stop reading now you strange person.  The others can carry on at their leisure.  Maybe I'm late to the party again (hey - it wouldn't be very surprising) and the entirety of the gamer community knows about this already, but Chore Wars?  Really?  I'm not going to explain the concept in any depth - you can go and read the FAQs for that but I'm not convinced.  I'm especially unconvinced by the thought of kids being happy to do chores in reward for 'virtual' gold as opposed to 'actual' pocket money.  When I was a young lass (many many years decades ago) we 'had' to keep our bedrooms tidy and then pocket money was 'earned' by washing the car or some other 'additional' chore.  I think if we'd have been offered 'virtual' gold (which I'm not 100% certain, but I'm making a fairly solid guess here... I don't think my local corner shop lady would have accepted in return for 'actual' sweeties) we'd have scrunched our foreheads up in a bemused manner and gone back to reading a book.  (Because, y'know we read then and we didn't have a tv...)  Maybe I'm incorrect, the site testimonials sing the praises of Chore Wars for getting kids helping out (and being happy to do so!) but I think my daughter would /sigh then /eye roll, and carry on sitting in her room in gothic gloom listening to 'music' that consists of fast guitar and angry men (like I used to...)

McGonigal writes very sweetly about herself and her husband vying to clean the bathroom because it 'gives the most xp' but it made me twitch.  I'm not sure that I can envisage a situation where Himself and I 'compete' to do the cleaning. In my view, chores are done by the person who has the lowest tolerance for clutter and /or grot.  That's it, in a nutshell.   And I remain unconvinced that a game that grants xp for ironing, for example, will change either my view that clothes should be ironed (in which case xp is irrelevant) or Himself's view that ironing is a futile waste of time (in which it would, I suggest, need to be a more 'tangible' reward before his mindset would alter.)


  1. I've been reading the same book in the same manner. I think Chore Wars is a nice idea, but I'm no convinced, either.

    I don't even have an iron (if something's wrinkled, it hangs in the bathroom during a shower) but I actually like cleaning the bathroom. And I have very high standards so would probably be unhappy if someone else did it.

    The social game ideas (to raise the local Jen (?) quotient) sounded more interesting.

    If you don't already have it for your iPhone of loveliness though; have a look at Epic Win. It's amusing!

  2. I'm currently reading it too. I saw one of her lectures online about the same subject, and although I find the overall idea interesting I don't agree with everything she says. For instance at one point she says that buying (gathering) clothes or peer status would be extrinsic (bad) happiness, while playing games is intrinsic (good) happiness. But really, why do we play games? To gather stuff and gain peer status. She acts as if there's a difference, where I believe we do it for the same reasons - to feel good. Saying the one is better than the other is just biased.

    I think what she means about the cleaning thing is that what we think is fun is much of an attitude thing, and if we think less about how troublesome doing the dishes will be and imagine it as a "quest" it'll be more fun. Actually I do think that the people who enjoy cleaning get a relief of the "it's over and done" feeling, kind of like when people do dailies. I never do dailies though, I find them dreadfully boring.

    It's still an interesting question: How come some people can spend an hour (or more) each day doing the same dailies/instances over and over but can't be bothered about the dishes/cleaning/laundry? What makes one of them more fun?

    I haven't been reading much of it yet, so it will be interesting to see how it continues.

  3. I'll admit - I loathe housework. In part because it's boring and in part because due to my condition it involves pain. (Standing doing the dishes at the zink has me near crying in pain after 5-10 minutes - thank god I have a dish washer!)

    That said, I wasn't overly fond of housework before either :P

    I don't think I could be convinced I'd enjoy it just because I got some XP or something from a game for it. I wouldn't go to the dentist to pull out a tooth for XP either :P

    Zinn makes an interesting point though - why is it that we can spend an hour doing those horribly boring daily quests every day - but are less interested in cleaning for an hour?

  4. Heh, I remember Chore Wars! I even had an account there, for a little while. It was kind of a fun little game. I didn't get many XPs very fast, though, and I never brought it up with BTH.

    What I want to know, though, is does Ms. Mcgonigal bring up Mary Poppins and "A Spoonful of Sugar (Makes the Medicine Go Down)" in her discussion of Chore Wars and attempts to make housework more pleasant through "gamification"?

  5. To me she's over-enthusiastic and a little delusional when it comes to some of the examples she mentions for rl gamification / implementation. I liked the first part of her TED talk much better than the second for this reason. a lot of people would disagree that a game on saving the ozon layer is fun, no matter how you present it. and I am definitely not gonna enjoy house cleaning, neither inside or outside games. my partner can keep the XP! =P
    Gamification has a very bitter after-taste for me as whole, anyway.

  6. Might I also suggest you steer clear of Flylady? In a desperate bid to bring routine to my housework duties, I signed up. To be met with phrases such as: (put down your mug, and swallow that mouthful of beverage now, please or have a cloth at the ready to wipe your monitor)

    "After you do this; you will keep it shiny by drying it out after each time you use it and making sure when you go to bed that it is shining so it will make you smile in the morning. This is how I get to hug you each day! That shiny sink is a reflection of the love that you have for yourself."

    I lasted three days before I couldn't cope with the saccharine and patronising any longer.