182 - Gamify Your Life

If you've listened to this podcast for a while, you're aware that the Multiamory crew are a bunch of gaming nerds. This week, we dive into the principles and psychology behind gamification, as well as how you can gamify your way to self-improvement and better relationships.

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Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.

Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.
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Jase Lindgren: On this episode of the Multiamory podcast, we're talking about how to make your life feel more like a game. In other words, we're talking about gamification. It's been a hot thing recently. We're going to talk a little bit about that, but also just some other ideas that we've come up with about how to apply all the things we've learned about life from video games, and board games, and pen and paper games, and applying those to our relationships in our real lives.

Emily Matlack: Yes, but first, I wanted to address the elephant in the room, or rather the cricket in the room. Not really. Just if anyone can hear a small cricket thing in the episode, that it's outside my window.

Dedeker Winston: It's not actually in the room with you, it's outside?

Emily: I don't know. The thing is, there was a cricket in here earlier, but I set wigs on it.

Dedeker: I was going to say.

Emily: I told Henry to go eat it, but I don't know whether he did. He may have just played with it and then set it free.

Dedeker: Or maybe now it's protesting.

Jase: I see.

Emily: Something tells me it's still alive. It's also like the hottest day in Los Angeles ever to happen. Not really, but possibly. I think this cricket is protesting and yelling outside the window. That's what's happening right now. Sorry in advance if everyone can hear it.

Dedeker: On this episode, our guest is a cricket.

Emily: Yes.

Jase: Yes. A special guest cricket. To start this off, I just wanted to start with the question of, what does gamification mean or what does it mean to gamify something? This is a concept that has become somewhat popular in recent years, probably over the past 5 to 10 years. Really just in the last few, it's picked up a lot of popularity. Basically it involves taking principles that make games feel rewarding or even addictive, and then applying them to things that you want to do in your real life.

Emily: This is really interesting. I haven't heard of this before you brought it up today-

Dedeker: Really? That surprising because-

Emily: -but it makes a lot of sense.

Dedeker: - for someone-- I mean because we all play games, and so I'm surprised that it hasn't crossed your path yet like this cricket has.

Emily: No. I know, but it makes a lot of sense. Apparently there was a big collection of research on gamification that showed that in a majority of studies, gamification found out that it does have positive effects on individuals, but individual and contextual differences exist. Gamification can also improve an individual's ability to comprehend digital content and understand a certain area of study such as music. That's really interesting.

Dedeker: It brings to mind for me, I feel like once we actually start thinking about it, it's like you see it everywhere. It's not just in "educational software" or whatever we may have played as kids. Like Jase, you're playing that game that teaches you how to code?

Jase: Yes. I think it's called Grasshopper.

Emily: Yes, that's the one. I was going to say like-

Jase: Cricket?

Dedeker: -caterpillar or something.

Emily: Oh my God.

Jase: Grasshopper.

Emily: A Grasshopper.

Jase: Well, yes. The thing is that what's interesting about gamification, is that it's not just making things literally into games, it's like taking the principles of game design. That game, Grasshopper, it teaches you super basics of some Javascript programming as a game, where it essentially sets up to like, "Here's the thing, here is the stuff you need to know. Now, here's the puzzle." In other words, here's the thing you want your code to achieve. Then using this simplified interface, make a code that'll do that. That's literally making it into a game. When we think about the learning games we played as kids, I had Mario teaches typing, where it was like, "It's me, Mario." It's like you'd press the keys on the keyboard to learn touch typing and even--

Dedeker: I just got Mavis Beacon, I wasn't--

Jase: I had Mavis too, yes.

Emily: Why? You had Mario teaches typing?

Jase: Yes, man. It had a CG Mario head that came out the beginning. It's like, "It's me, Mario." That was mind-blowing. I hadn't seen-

Emily: We're typing.

Jase: -a CG Mario like that at the time. It was really cool.

Dedeker: Impressive. I think what you're getting at is, that it's not just turning a concept or something that you need to learn into game, but it's like taking these principles. It makes me think of an app that I use a lot, it's called Stash, which is investing app.

Jase: It's very simple.

Dedeker: It's built for investing in mutual funds or ETFs. They also started, just made a portion where you can invest for retirement, and stuff like that. First of all, it's all micro-investing. It's like if you want to invest $5, then you can. Or $10, or whatever.

The way that they've done it, it's not the only investing app out there that does micro-investing, but they have really gamified it in a very simple way. Where for instance, it's like, if you earn a 100 points, you level up. The way you earn points is, if you fill out your profile, you get five points. If you share it with a friend, you get 10 points. If you invest in this particular mutual fund, then you get five points. Then you're going to level up to the next level which is like you're an investing star.

Emily: Wizard.

Dedeker: Wizard or something like that. I think it's things like that where it's clearly, it's not like, "Here's a game for you to play and learn about investing." It's like, "This is about investing, but here are some little-gamified elements just to motivate you to keep going and get a little bit of that." I guess a little bit of dopamine when it's like, "Oh, I leveled up, I did all the things, I got all the points."

Emily: You remember Foursquare a few years ago, it was like all the rage?

Jase: Yes.

Dedeker: Yes

Emily: That was like a gamified way of getting you to go somewhere and spend some money on something, and check-in here.

Dedeker: That's true. To get those badges and stuff.

Jase: Yes.

Emily: Totally.

Jase: Totally.

Emily: With the white, like prince or populous of someplace. What was it?

Dedeker: Were you the king? If you were the king--

Jase: Was it the king or the duke and duchess? Or it was some--

Dedeker: You got that little crown thing on your profile.

Jase: Yes. You got a little title.

Emily: Yes. You got a little crown.

Dedeker: I feel like this is going to age us. In a couple of years when people listen to us, they're like, "Oh Jeez, this is going to Foursquare." Or they're going to be like, "Foursquare? What's that?"

Jase: That's actually great that you bring that up, Emily, because Foursquare is one of the examples that's often cited in people talking about gamification. In terms of how gamification can be used as a way to market something, and that's a good example. We see it all over the place in things like, for example, on Google maps. If you contribute ratings, or reviews, or upload pictures about locations, you earn points and you level up. Same principle, where you're like, "Oh, Cool. I don't know if I feel like writing a review. Oh, but I'm only 10 points away from leveling, maybe I'll do that." There are so many websites now that you sign up for. I think even Facebook does this. It's been a long time since I first signed up for Facebook.

Dedeker: They give you a progress bar.

Jase: The progress bar.

Dedeker: Yes, classic.

Jase: Right? It's like you're 60% of the way to setting up your profile, and you're like, "Uh, okay. I wouldn't do this, but I want to get that progress bar done." It's using principles from games design.

Dedeker: I read about a certain experiment where they use a progress bar to get kids not pee in the pool, where it was like, they set up essentially like the porta potty next to the pool, and anytime somebody used it, a progress bar would go up. All the kids that day were like, "Oh, we got to go pee actually in the bathroom, so that we can-

Jase: So that they can fill this.

Dedeker: -raise the bar instead of peeing in the pool. It totally worked.

Jase: Fascinating.

Dedeker: Right?

Emily: That's ridiculously-

Dedeker: I know.

Emily: -and cute. Wow.

Dedeker: They need to use it more often because I've just also read a study that says that 99.9% of people do pee in pools so. On that note--

Emily: There's psychology behind this gamification idea. One is of the big things about making things into games that's so compelling is that games are really addictive. Like God, the DLC, or Legend of the Zelda: Breath of the Wild, just going back over and over again to those master trials. Even when I freak and I screwed it up for the 20th time, but I really needed to beat it for good reason. I wasn't going to get anything out of it except for the glory of having beaten it, and it felt really good.

Dedeker: Well, there's a lot of things. I feel like there's a lot of things that go into making games themselves addictive. It could be that you are really intrigued by the story, so when some DLC comes out, you're like, "I want more the story." Or it could be that you're collecting something or things like that. I think that is also part of it, just like accomplishing things.

Whether it's something big like the master trials, or just like unlocking a new recipe or whatever, that it is that little like the repetitive sense of like, "I've checked off the to-dos. I've checked off the side quests. I've accomplished something and that feels good even if it's within the context of the game, while I haven't actually accomplished anything in the real world."

Emily: Unlocking a new recipe in Overcooked, is that what you're referring to?

Jase: No. gosh I mean-- Any can.

Dedeker: No. I was thinking any item, any number of RPGs and how they got cooking system or whatever.

Emily: Yes. Zelda does too, but yes.

Dedeker: Exactly.

Jase: Yes, totally. Basically I have two stories about this. One is a story that I read about in a book called Everything Bad Is Good For You. Really interesting book, I recommend it. It's maybe a little bit dated now, it came out maybe 10 years ago or so. In it, he tells the

story of a man who in World of Warcraft, which is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. There's this guy who is one of the top blacksmiths in the world in that game, or at least was at the time of this writing. He make some of the best items in the game, is very well renowned in the game, makes a lot of money in the game, all of these things.

To get to that point, he broke down the numbers and I don't remember what they were now. He had to spend some just astronomical number of hours doing very mundane tasks. Like in the game, mining some rocks to get some materials to then go to another place to forge those into items, and this very slow process of doing this. He made the comparison of like, "That sounds a lot like work."

Then he looked at-- This guy also had a full time job. This guy would go do his full time job, which was in construction, I think. Then would come home and spend the same amount of time in this game doing another kind of construction in a way, and asking the question of why. Because people say all the time, the criticism of games it's like, "Oh, you're not-- you're just goofing around, you're just having fun. You're not being serious." For anyone who's played any amount of games, games are not fun a lot of the time. That's like the weird irony about games.

Dedeker: Especially that long RPGs.

Jase: Yes. That it's not about just having fun all the time. I think that's a common misconception from people who don't play video games specifically. Then the other story is actually about one of the guys who today is one of the big proponents of gamification and he has a lot of information out there, tons of YouTube videos and stuff. He told the very similar story, except his was with a different game. I think it might have been EverQuest, but same thing.

He spent tons of hours developing this whole thing in that game, and then one day, he just stopped playing the game. He had this realization of, "I've put so much energy and so much time, and so much thought and willpower, and effort into accomplishing things that as soon as I stop playing that game, all gone." Saying, "Man, if I had applied that much effort and time to stuff that was in real life that would stick around, or that would at least be more likely to stick around, how far would I be?" So he said, "I'm going to take that and make that work for me. I'm going to get into gamification and learn-"

Dedeker: Like that same thing that compelled me to put in all that time, I think.

Jase: Exactly. I'm going to use that so that I can accomplish more in my own life.

Dedeker: Well, speaking of that, okay. Because I feel like I would love to sit here and just talk about video games, but how does this work in our real lives? How does this work in our relationships? How could it? What are the ways that games have influenced us in our real lives, outside of just gamification of things?

Jase: Well, one way actually comes from pen and paper role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. There's also the Fate system or Monster of the Week, which we'll talk about a little bit in this session.

Emily: What is that?

Jase: I'll talk about it when we get to it. Dungeons and Dragons, I think everyone is at least somewhat familiar with what that is. Essentially it's-- Imagine if like a board game, but where you're making up the board game as you go along. There's some core rules about how your characters work, and how things are resolved in the world. Like whether or not you can do something, but you're telling a story collaboratively as you're playing this game. Maybe that's a way to think about it, rather than a board game with a very linear like, you get this many pieces or this much, and then it's done, right?

In it, your character has ability scores. If you've played any role-playing games, like Emily, I know you've played. What? If you played Fallout as well, or just Skyrim?

Emily: Just Skyrim and Secret of Mana, which was an RPG.

Dedeker: Okay.

Jase: Yes. That had this kind of thing too, there's a ton of other games that have a similar system. Where you have ability scores, and just to use the ones from Dungeons and Dragons right now, although this could work with other systems. You have six of them; there's strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Essentially your character has a different number in each of those that determines how good they are at that thing.

Say they have a high charisma score, means they're very good at convincing people of things, they're good at being a leader, they're good at encouraging other people or manipulating other people. It can have different uses. Or intelligence would be how good they are at book learning, so wizards would need this one. Or wisdom is more about how they are with cultural knowledge, or being perceptive of things, noticing when something's out of place. Dexterity is how good you are at balancing or dodging things. Strength is obviously strength. Constitution is how hardy you are. Constitution is little bit of an abstract concept.

First of all, Dedeker and I have started using some of these to talk about our real life selves as if we were characters in games, to give ourselves more playful way to understand a little bit about each other, as well as ourselves.

Dedeker: Yes. This has been interesting because I think that people, obviously in the real world, don't live in this world where all of your skills and abilities are just like a set of numbers. That you're rolling a die and there's all this chance, but it is an interesting framework to apply, to start thinking about things. I didn't start thinking about it until Jase one day made the comment like, "It's like Dedeker, I think you've very low constitution."

Emily: Oh, God. You said this a couple times during the tour.

Jase: Yes.

Dedeker: Yes. He's now spread this knowledge to Emily. I was like, "I don't know what that means. I know what it means in a gaming sense, but I don't know how that actually means in my life." From Jase, it's more specifically about the fact that I've very low constitution when it comes to walking across town, for instance. I'm more of a sprinter than like a distance runner, really. Or like dealing with heat or adversity of that kind of like I'm--

Emily: Yes. you almost died in the heat when we were in New York walking a long way?

Dedeker: Right. Yes.

Jase: Yes. I forgot about that.

Dedeker: I also failed my constitution throws in San Francisco show like--

Jase: Yes. Well, I want to give a little bit of context about what that was. Unless you want to explain it.

Dedeker: No, go ahead.

Jase: Okay. Essentially the way these numbers work is, you'll have some of them that are higher, and some that are lower. Usually they'll be based around what type of character you are. Like I said, if you're a wizard, you'd want a higher intelligence, but you'd probably don't need as much strength. Or like a thief would need to hire dexterity, but wouldn't need as much intelligence maybe. There's different ways you could play it.

The way this work is that when something challenges you, for example, like say, you get hit with a poison dart. That would be something that challenges your constitution. Based on your score, it essentially just increases or decreases the likelihood that you will successfully resist that thing, right?

Emily: This is all of a sudden just become a D&D podcast.

Jase: Basically yes.

Dedeker: Yes. Like now, it's just the way the podcasts go.

Jase: Hold on, here's why this is important. Because these numbers are not saying-- they're not a yes or no. It's not like a, "Yes. I am good at this, so I'm always going to succeed at this." It's not a, "Oh, I'm bad at this, I'm always going to fail at this." Instead, it's just about, "Okay. My chances of succeeding in something on strength are better than my chances on something for wisdom. Because those are the scores that I have. It doesn't mean I can't have an epic win about wisdom, or epic failure when it comes to something with strength."

To put it in context of what Dedeker was talking about, of having that low constitution score. It doesn't mean that anytime it's hot out, she just instantly wilts, but just it's--

Dedeker: The chances are likely.

Jase: If she feels herself getting to that point of, "Oh goodness, I'm wilting," then we have this funny, silly way of commenting on it of like, "Oh, I think I just failed a saving throw against constitution." Right?

Dedeker: I think that's an interesting look at it, though, of this idea that you're not limited to just the things that you think that you're good at, or bad at. That there is still a chance with anything, that you're able to break out. That just, yes, that even if you think that you're good at something, you could still fail at it. Even if you think you're not so good at something, you could still greatly succeed at it. Which I think is just another interesting philosophical stance to take on it.

Emily: Can you change the scores? Is that a thing that can happen?

Jase: Yes, definitely.

Dedeker: You level up.

Jase: Well, that's the thing. You level up and you can increase those ability scores, but they change very slowly over time. I think that's also, if we just want to keep on going with this metaphor. Yes, exactly. That you can change them, but it takes a continued dedication towards changing those things in order to change them.

Dedeker: I don't know how I'd change my constitution with temperature though.

Jase: I don't know. I guess slowly conditioning yourself, yes.

Dedeker: Yes. I'd have to condition myself.

Emily: Just live in like the desert for 18 years like I did, then you'll be good. Although, Jeez, I really am doing poorly right now on this heat.

Dedeker: Comparatively.

Emily: I got my ice pack going on. Yes, it's awful. I hear you Dedeker, I hear you.

Dedeker: I guess that, I don't know. I guess it is kind of this interesting framework of applying this like structured way of thinking about one's own life, I suppose.

Jase: I think the point of it, in this case, is just to have some fun and give yourself a shorthand. I found it's helped me to remember that, so that if I realized that it's hot outside and I start to feel it going, "Oh, man. Dedeker might be feeling this even more than I am." I'm going to preemptively make sure we'd get out of that. Or I'm not going to be like, "Hey, let's walk over to this other place that's a few miles away because I'm feeling fine." It helps me be more aware of that. Recently Dedeker has been concerned about my dexterity score, because I was tripping a lot the other day.

Dedeker: Yes. I did bring that up.

Jase: But-- sorry. Yes, what were you saying, Emily?

Emily: No, please continue. I was going to move on. I got bored.

Jase: I was just going to say that, I do want to be sure that we're not thinking about these things in terms of like, "Oh, I have this limitation, and so I'm always going to be limited in this way." I think instead, thinking about it as, "This is a thing that I could devote time to changing." Or, "Like in a role-playing game, I could find some magic items or other ways to enhance this."

Dedeker: How far do this metaphor go?

Jase: I've taken it so far. I've taken it all the way.

 Emily: Really far. Well, okay. You quickly talked about something called the Fate system and Monster of the Week, can you touch on those? Like, what is that? I've never heard of those. Maybe I have, but I can't work all these.

Jase: Real quick, basically Fate and Monster of the Week are just different systems. Like I said, Dungeons and Dragons is the system that you make up a game that you play together using that system, essentially. The Fate system is just a different one, that takes a very different approach to things. The reason why I want to bring that up is because in that one, you're telling a story together. In that, when you're trying to do something difficult, say you're trying to lift something heavy. In that game, if you're able to explain it in terms of the story of why you should be more able to do that thing than you would be, then you can actually make it so that it's easier for you to succeed at that.

There's like, creative thinking about how to realistically solve a problem, rather than just being like, "Oh, you either have the strength or you don't." Which I think is something in video games we get, where it's like, "Oh, I don't have that strength, so I just can't open that door, I can't go in that room." Or like, "My lock picking skill is not high enough, so I will never be able to see in that door." That instead, this is like, "Can you explain a way? Can you find a person to help you? Can you make a good story for why you should be able to do it?" Then it'll make it more likely that you can do it.

Emily: That you can do it. I see.

Jase: Then also, as another approach to it in the game Monster of the Week, which is yet another system for the same thing. They do a really interesting method of character advancement. Where in terms of like we said, you can level up and increase your abilities and skills and things like that, that the way that you level up is by failing at stuff. That if you're just succeeding all the time, you're not essentially developing as a person. When you have those failures at things, then actually your character will get more abilities or will get stronger.

I just really find that one interesting because in reading about it, people will say-- You'll get some players who play the game whose characters barely advance at all because they're always so afraid of failing, that they'll play it very safe all the time. Then you'll have others who are just always trying for the epic win, and sometimes they get them, and a lot of times they don't. Those characters end up developing much more.

Dedeker: Because they get the experience points.

Jase: Right. Because they're willing to take those risks, and to tell a more interesting story even if it doesn't work out as well for them, sadly. I just want to bring up that Dungeons and Dragons has gotten some criticism for certain aspects of it. I just want to point out, there are other systems and the metaphor still works. So--

Emily: That's cool.

Dedeker: I like that though. I like that still being rewarded with experience points, even when you fail, or like that that's the only way that you get experience points is through failing.

Emily: Again, it's a metaphor for life, so I like it.

Dedeker: I know.

Jase: I love it.

Emily: Can we talk a little bit about gamification and how it can be applied to relationships? Again, gamification is this idea that you can apply scenarios and games, are like the structure of a game to your real life, day to day, I don't know, tasks or anything that you want to do. Okay. Apparently this is used for things like productivity, or for like companies, or to market products.

Jase: Yes. Like we talked about Foursquare.

Emily: Yes. Like to get their users to do work for free. Again, I'm assuming Foursquare had a deal going on with the places that you checked in at, I don't know.

Dedeker: A good example is like Google translation. Right now, you do the "help them translate" and they've really gamified this process where-- I mean, I fallen for it for sure. Where they show you a little phrases in one language, and then they give you four options of like, "Which ones actually match this translation?" It could be multiple ones. It's again the same thing where there's a progress bar, and there's level ups, and there's badges, but it is just doing work for them for free of just like testing their translation quality.

Emily: Oh my god. My mom, I got her an Apple Watch and she is like Gaga for the whole exercise wheel thing.

Dedeker: Yes, a lot of people.

Emily: She has to every single day get all three bars, and beat it by 200%. She's like, "I didn't do my 200% yet today. I have to finish it." I'm like, "Mom, chill." God, talk about Game of Life. She is getting an amazing benefit from that.

Dedeker: Yes. They're also add in elements, I know Fitbit, I'm sure Apple Watch too, as in elements of competitiveness as well that--

Emily: Yes. You get badges and things.

Dedeker: Exactly.

Emily: It's cool.

Dedeker: Yes.

Jase: You can compare with your friends, see their scores each day. Yes.

Emily: She totally does that. She's like, "Yeah. I got I got my badge for this month because I beat my record again." I'm like, "Wow. Okay." It's been nice to be retired. Apparently this has been used, like we said, for a long time in education for children. Because obviously, yes, you want to make everything learning into a game, or a lot of like fun shared into a game for kids. I mean, the learning games we have today correlate to what we did as a kid. You might learn like-- you might get a sticker for something for doing like--

Jase: Do you guys have that in your kindergarten?

Dedeker: What? Getting stickers? Heck yes.

Emily: Yes. Heck yes.

Jase: It's like so ubiquitous.

Emily: When you're kid, you get a sticker.

Dedeker: Yes.

Jase: That's a great example of gamification, right?

Dedeker: Yes.

Emily: Totally. Like you do an assignment or a chore, and you get a sticker.

Dedeker: Yes. When you get a sticker, you get a stamp. In my preschool, if you were good during nap time, five days out of the week, you got a gummy bear, but during the week everyone--

Emily: Just a single gummy bear? One?

Dedeker: I know it sounds ridiculous, but my memories as a child is feeling so accomplished when I got that freaking gummy bear. Everyone had a paper bear with their name on it, on the board. You'd get a sticker on the four paws each day. Then the last day you would get the bear with the gummy. The gummy bear was taped to the bears.

Jase: So you saw it?

Dedeker: You saw it. For a four year old, that's very compelling.

Emily: They just felt like a Costco pack of gummy bears and they like, "Whatever. That should last the entire year. We're just giving one to one kid every week."

Dedeker: It works. Because again, if you're on your third day or fourth day, you really wanted to be screamy during nap time, but you're like, "Oh, I can see that gummy bear with my name on it." It totally worked.

Emily: I think this bills in to our competitive nature as humans. Maybe we're even just being competitive with ourselves, but we still like, "We must win. We must beat something. We must cross the finish line. We must get that gummy bear."

Dedeker: Okay. Again, here's the question, how do we apply getting that gummy bear in your relationships?

Jase: Well, okay. The way that gamification apps tend to work, like the modern apps out there and we'll talk maybe a little bit more about this later. Is, it finds ways to tie rewards to things that you want to do, that you might not do otherwise, right? Like, the gummy bear thing. There's one app where you write your own rewards for things. It might be like, I get to watch the next episode of Game of Thrones, once I've done this thing that I want to be sure I do. Whether it's working out, or getting my writing done, or I don't know what, cleaning the house, right?

It tends to be about those sorts of things. Or other games, it's more about a progress bar, right? Leveling up, getting points or unlocking little digital items. Again, all stuff that's meaningless, but it's getting you to do a thing that you might not have done otherwise. Like again, the Foursquare example is a good one too of like, "Those points don't mean anything. You don't get anything from that. It's just for the fun of getting points."

We wanted to ask that question of, how can you take that same thing and instead of applying it to something super tangible like working out, or cleaning the house, or doing work, how can you apply that to relationships?

Emily: I think this is important to talk about the goal making process in a relationship, which I think that the relationship escalator tends to maybe potentially have that mentality of goal setting. Then like, "Okay. I'm setting the goal of moving in, and I'm setting this goal of getting married." That's not what we're talking about here. We're not about-- I mean, there's probably all of you know, who have listened to this podcast. That's not really like our MO of going on the relationship escalating, setting those goals, but rather these are personal development goals. Like relationship development goals, not just like, "My goal is to get married to you."

Dedeker: Not like relationship milestone goals.

Jase: Right.

Emily: Exactly.

Jase: I wonder if that's why that relationship escalator is so addictive, because it is like a game. It's like-

Emily: It's like you got to the next one.

Jase: -my progress bar is going toward that next level, which is that next step.

Emily: Totally.

Jase: Jeez, I never even thought about that.

Dedeker: Well, there's a reason why there's the board Game of Life, for heaven's sake. It's quite escalatory.

Jase: Yes. That's escalatory.

Dedeker: That's not just relationship, but that's whole life escalator like, go to college, get a job, get a car, get a wife, get some kids, get a house and retire.

Jase: Right. You notice in the Game of Life, there's not a go back to college, change careers.

Dedeker: No. That's true. Get a divorce.

Jase: Yes. Oh, man.

Dedeker: Get rid of one of your kids, buy another one.

Jase: Wow.

Emily: Oh my God.

Jase: Jesus.

Emily: Before we get into more of this, I would like to take a quick break to discuss ways that you can support our show. The best way to do that is through Patreon which is an amazing amazing community of people that have built up around our show. If you go to patreon.com/multiamory, you can donate to our show at the $5 level, which is the most popular level. You will become a part of our private patron only Facebook group, which is an amazing way to meet a bunch of like minded people that are interested in polyamory, interested in doing it better, interested in making their relationships suck less.

They really come together and help each other out in a variety of ways, just by hosting their stories of triumph, or things that they need help on, and then getting advice on it. It's a really amazing way for people to come together. In addition, if you donate at the $7 level, you get bonus content, ad free episodes, and then those episodes come out of date early. Also, we have our video discussion group at the $9 and up level. Again, like that's with us face to face. Then other $9 and up patrons, and you can actually talk about things that are going on in your life. It's a really amazing community of people in there and get to discuss-

Jase: That's right. It's really cool.

Emily: -yes, get to discuss things via video chat. Again, if you want to support our show and become a part of an amazing group of people, then go to patreon.com/multiamory and join today.

Dedeker: Another thing that you can do that would really help us out a lot is, just to take two minutes out of your day if you haven't done it already, and leave us a review. If you go to iTunes, Apple podcast, Stitcher, wherever it is you get your podcasts that will let you leave a review, just go ahead and sign in. We read every single review that we get, and we cry about them often.

Jase: Happy tears not bad ones.

Dedeker: Lots of happy tears about the reviews that we get, but it's not just for us. It doesn't just help us know what we're doing right or what doing wrong. It helps other people who are looking for podcasts with this kind of content to know whether it's worth their time to listen or not. So, take a minute, let people know what you liked about the show, what you got out of it. If there's any particular episodes that you'd recommend to people for them to start with. Or even if you don't have the two minutes to write a whole review, you can just leave us a rating. Just click on some stars and leave us a rating and that helps us too. Again, go to Apple podcast, iTunes, Stitcher, and leave us a rating or review.

Jase: Then lastly, our sponsor for this episode is Quip. Quip is a fun way to get an awesome toothbrush. That's an electric toothbrush, feels great in your mouth. It's been developed along with dentists to actually be the best possible toothbrush and toothpaste for getting the cleanest healthiest mouth. We all love them. They come in cute colors, they travel really nicely unlike that big blocky heavy SanaCare or other things like that. Super great for traveling. Dedeker and I use ours all the time. Also, I want to let everyone know that my dad just ordered a Quip using our code.

Dedeker: Congratulations to your dad.

Jase: He's about--

Emily: So did my boyfriend.

Jase: Okay. Look, everyone is doing it.

Emily: We now have a gold and a pink Quip on-- Yes, hanging. I need to take a picture of it and put it on Instagram.

Dedeker: My mom has a Quip now too. Like everyone's on the Quip travelling.

Emily: Right. Everyone.

Jase: Anyway, please become more like a member of our families and get a Quip as well by going to tryquip.com/multiamory. If you go there, not only will they contribute to our show to help keep this going, but you will also get one free refill and you get $10 off your first refill, which is a free refill. Which is the head of the toothbrush as well as some toothpaste that they'll send you three months later, which is awesome. I like doing that subscription as well to make sure that I actually replace my toothbrush heads as often as I'm supposed to. Yes, we recommend it.

Emily: Obviously this whole podcast is really about different ways in which to do personal development, which you better yourself at a personal level, because it is really central to having a good relationship. It's the way think like these game techniques and these tactics, it's something that you could, for instance, incorporate into like your radar session when you're figuring out like your action points with a partner. Say like, "Okay. If we halt during an argument every single time this month, then we should take a day trip to Santa Barbara for wine tasting, for instance."

 Dedeker: That's interesting. I actually kind of like that. If you're like, "Let's halt like 10 times this month." Just to get you--

Emily: Whoa, that's a lot of halts.

Dedeker: Well, maybe that's a lot, I don't know. Maybe you need it. Just to encourage you to use it rather than not, that's interesting.

Jase: Yes. Or I mean, even just the re-connection time at the end of radar, is in itself a reward for doing that.

Dedeker: Yes. I was just saying, if we ever made a radar app, we definitely need to build a progress bar into it. It's going to get you-- because I do think that with the radar restructuring, where it was all those different categories that you hit. Definitely whenever I do a radar, it feels that way a little bit. Of like, "Okay. We check off this box, then we check off that box, then we check out this box. Well, look at us truck along." Then we get to the end where we get to re-connect of like, massage each other, or have sex, or watch a movie, or do something good that it gets you through what could be like a potentially uncomfortable or difficult retiring couple hours of communication.

Jase: Yes.

Emily: We need to gamify making an app for radar, because that's a really good idea. We need to do that, but we need to incentivize it somehow.

Dedeker: Well, if you all have any specific ideas of what a radar app could look like, or what you'd want in that kind of app, then, yes, reach out. Send us an email, Tweet at us, Facebook us, make a post in the Patreon group, if you're part of that. Okay. Some things that came to mind when I was thinking about, what are maybe some things you would want to accomplish that would take multiple steps, and that might be hard to get yourself to do, or motivate yourself to do in some way? There's so many options. It could be things like being more okay with being alone, rather than with a partner all the time.

This could be regardless of your relationship structure. Like maybe you're monogamous and just want to be able to have more of a life separate from your partner. Or, if you're opening up your relationship and you're adjusting to having more time alone or by yourself, if your partner's away. Things like that. It could be having an aim of creating better communication or a better relationship with your metamours, or creating a relationship there at all, or connection there at all.

It could be the way that you maintain communication in a long distance relationship. It could be about being more social or encouraging yourself to have the courage to ask someone on date. You could gamify deescalating your relationship. That sounds really weird to be bringing games into this traditionally very sad and difficult process, but I'm thinking more of like gamifing the process of when it's like, "Okay. We need to have some time apart." Or like maybe this person's kind of toxic, I need them not in my life anymore. If there's a way to gamify not reaching out to that person, essentially to keep yourself--

Emily: Then I get a cookie.

Dedeker: Well, maybe something more than a cookie. Although I don't know if a cookie really motivates you, maybe that would work.

Jase: What about the progress bar?

Emily: Hey, your one gummy bear motivated you, didn't they?

Dedeker: That's true.

Jase: I mean, what about the progress bar idea? Of rather than it being about a specific reward, it could be this like, "I want to have 10 days where I'm not checking their Facebook. I'm not looking at my access Facebook, or I'm not asking someone how they're doing, or something like that." That you have those check marks that you fill off. If you fail, you start over try it again. That could work to have that like, "I'm going to level up and after that 10 days, I'm going to do another 10 days." Right?

Dedeker: Yes.

Jase: That you level up each time.

Dedeker: Those are just some general ideas of, maybe something that's a little bit difficult to accomplish, maybe seems a little bit daunting, but that I think could be gamified in some way. Could be broken up into small tasks, could have rewards built-in, could have some way gamifying it. As far as figuring out what it is that you want to do, and then be able to translate that into something that will actually get you to do it.

Generally we encourage you to focus on, what are your normal productivity based things or to-do list? Then add items that are like that. If you already have something that is like, "I meditate everyday, or a workout everyday." Something that also works really well is to attach new habits to old habits. For instance, something that I start doing. It's like I already have the habit of meditating every single day. I have a tracker on my phone that tracks how many days in a row I've meditated.

Jase: You've already gamified that?

Dedeker: I've already gamified that. I'm like, "I'm going to attach a quick workout to that, so that now I also medidate and then I do a 10-minute workout after that." Then I'm tracking both of those at the same time, and try to gamify it in that way. Another thing that you can do is adding things again, that are not necessarily just based on your partner, but they're also, I guess more personal development based things.

For instance, a few months ago, but I guess it was last year technically, we had Jessica Grem on the show. She talked about standing in front of a mirror and saying loving things to yourself. It's a way to boost self-esteem and to be more positive with yourself. Aalso examining if you really have the negative reactions to even the thought of that, that's something to examine as well.

Doing things like I used to have an app that would pop up a reminder on my phone every single day like something positive to say to myself. Then once you've got through a 30 days of it--

Emily: That's so good.

Dedeker: Once you got the 30 days of it, then you could, I forget what it unlocked for you. It was also very gamified, you kind like levelled up. Then you could switch the thing that it would say to you, but you had to get to that first 30 days first. It's like, that's not even that big of a reward, but it was motivating enough for me to be like, "Okay. I'll actually do this, and say these positive things to myself and things like that."

Jase: I just want to point out too that a to-do list itself is already a gamification, because it gives you the sense of progress, right? Especially if you're using a to-do list effectively, which I have not always done and only recently have started finding a more effective way using the Bullet Journal technique that Dedeker talked to me about. If you look it up online, you can find out lots more about it.

Essentially each day your to-do list is only stuff that you could actually do that day, so you don't end up with this to-do list that's just is your to-do list forever. That instead, each day has it's own list that's achievable. There is this thing I definitely had, where I get to the end of my working day of working on stuff and I see, "Ah, crap. There's one more thing on that list for today. That's just that one. It would just be better-- I'll just do it right now." I'll take that moment and I'll do it, and just get it done instead of--

Emily: I'll do it tomorrow.

Jase: Like that progress bar on Facebook. Instead of leaving that not quite finished, you're like, "Yes, sure. It won't take me that long. I'll just finish it." Essentially taking that idea of even a to-do list and putting some more personal development stuff on it, like the note of appreciation that you mentioned, Dedeker. That's a really great one to put on there. Or some self love like actually put it on your to-do list for the day.

Maybe you're starting to finish your work day and you see, "Ah, that's still the one thing I haven't checked off. All right. I'll take a moment to do it." Then you do it, you're like, "Oh, my gosh. I'm so glad I did that. I felt so much better." It helps you actually take the initiative to do the thing.

Emily: Right. What are some other things that you can do?

Jase: I mean, you could add in like taking a walk or on the block, drinking a glass of water. They could be health related things or what else? What could be some other more relationship development things? We talked about your relationship with your metamours. It could be something of like, "I'm going to send a message and just check in on how this metamour is doing." Assuming I have that kind of relationship with them. Or just--

Emily: Drinking a glass of water is a good one. I don't do that. As often as I should, especially in this heat.

Dedeker: It's not quite as related to other people. I've done once in the past where I have headed to, let's say, a poll, and we meetup for discussion group. I've been like, "I'm going to talk to three people that I don't know." Just with that intention, not with the intention of like, "I'm going to ask three people out, or I'm going to find three attractive people, or I'm going to make three friends." That's even that's a little too much pressure. It's just, "I'm going to talk to three people I don't know." Even if it's just like, "Hey, your earrings are really cool. Bye."

Emily: Like gives three people a compliment. That's doing something outside of your self.

Dedeker: Yes, but again, just in the sense of helping to prevent me from just getting in to my own little world, or just being a wild flower, just staying with people that I know I at a meetup. Often, it just leads to a great conversations, or maybe it does lead to me meeting someone I'm attracted to or interesting, not. Or just someone who's just cool, or I'm in a better mood or whatever. Things like that.

Jase: It's important to realize with that, the part of it is it's something that you yourself can accomplish. If your goal is for my metamour to like me, that's a harder thing, because that's not actually something that you can control. While that might be nice to want, the point of this is to think of things that are very tangible that you can actually accomplish and do. Like complimenting yourself, sending someone a nice message, doing things like that.

The double bonus of these types of things as opposed to the normal to-do list items, is that they have these double win property. Where not only do I get the positive thing of taking that walk, or of giving myself this compliments or sending a nice message, but I also get another thing I can check off my checklist much easier than probably a lot of other stuff. If it's like clean out my whole inbox, that might take a few hours, but giving myself a compliment might only take a minute. I could check mark on my to-do list, and that feels good.

Dedeker: I feel like just one note before we move on here. I feel like having an awareness of this can really change the way that you set up action points in your radars, in your relationships.

Jase: Interesting.

Dedeker: I know everyone talks about having actionable goals and stuff like that, but I think it's really the difference between, "Okay. This month, let's try to have more day time versus, let's have three dates. Let's set it. We're going to have three dates this month that are outside the house that we kind of plan and get dressed up for. We're going to do three of them." Whether it is in the radar at that moment like, "Okay. Let's pick the dates for it." Or if it is just like, "Okay. We have this goal, we have this quest that we're got to get three days, and we're at zero out of three right now. Let's accomplish that."

Again, it's a tiny little silly thing, of course. If you end up doing four dates, it's not going to be a problem. Again, I think it can really shape the way that you make your action points with your partner to actually get things that are accomplishable. Also, to motivate both of you to have a sense of like, "We're on this team trying to accomplish this quest together."

Jase: I think part of the gamification principle, there would be, to be sure it's visible to you, how you're doing toward it. Because I know that something Dedeker and I have fallen into before as well, set an action point in our radar, and then it stays in that document that doesn't get opened until the next month. Then we look at it, we're like, "Oh yes, oops. We totally didn't do that thing."

With that, maybe it's putting goal stickers on a piece of paper on the fridge, or write, or drawing some hearts on something, or putting-- maybe you have three silk roses that you feel are very swift.

Dedeker: You are so corny.

Jase: I am, right? It doesn't matter what it is. The point is that it's some--

Emily: What the hell is a silk rose?

Jase: Like an artificial rose.

Dedeker: Look at silk flowers.

Emily: Wait, that you fill in? What?

Jase: No. It's like a fake flower that you would put in a vase that looks like a flower.

Emily: I see. You just gently take a silk fake rose and put each individual one in a vase? Okay.

Jase: I don't why you added the gently.

Emily: Oh my God, because it's silk, because it's needs to be gentle.

Dedeker: I want to toss out a controversial thing and see what you all all think about it. I saw this on, I think, the polyamory celebrate at once. It had a lot of comments, and a lot of people who'd come back and forth. I'm still not sure how I would think about it. This person had two partners. Whenever they spend time with a partner, went on a date, or had a phone call, or give a gift or whatever, any kind of marker of partnership building relationshipy stuff, they would put a marble in that person's jar.

For them, it was more of a visual sense of knowing how much they had "invested" in each relationship. This person insisted in their posts that it wasn't about keeping score, or keeping tabs. If it was just more of having a sense. I think for this person is more like of a motivation of like, "I want to fill up these jars." As opposed to, again, like I'm trying to keep these jars totally equal. I see this person-- It seems like almost trying to gamify a little bit their process of investing in these particular relationships. I also understand how some people would see that, and be like, "Oh, that looks weird." Or I don't know, What do you all think.

Emily: I mean, I could become potentially sinister, in a way. Not sinister, but just like, "Oh, I see that I'm clearly more interested in X person. Maybe that means that I shouldn't be with Y person." Or whatever, I don't know. If you're looking at it from a relationship and argue standpoint, it could be keeping you in check. Just to be like, "Hey, like, I clearly and prioritizing someone over the other, and I don't want to be doing that. So let's make a change here." It's at the very least, like a visual representation of something that they can see.

Dedeker: Yes. I guess, I could see it being useful maybe in certain circumstances, but maybe not so much in others. What if they like gently place it in the jar, does that change?

Emily: Yes, gently. Very gently.

Dedeker: Gently put some marbles in a jar.

Jase: What if they were silk roses instead of marbles that they're filling?

Dedeker: Then the jar fills up a lot faster.

Emily: It would just be like a cacophony of silk.

Dedeker: A cacophony of silk.

Emily: That's good. A cacophony of silk.

Dedeker: If I had a fabric store, that's what I'd call it.

Jase: Cacophony, that's good. I like it.

Emily: I'm sorry. The heat is making me delirious.

Dedeker: I know. I think so.

Jase: Honestly, I don't know what I think about that. It does make me feel uncomfortable, and I can't quite put my finger on-- Yes, if that's justified or not, yes. I do think it depends what you're using it for, how you're approaching it though.

Emily: Jase, you were talking about this app; SuperBetter.

Jase: Yes. Okay. So, I do want to recommend one app. This will be the only app I think I recommend on this episode. It's called SuperBetter, there's a web version of it. There's also for iPhone or for Android, there's different versions to this. SuperBetter is one of the many gamification apps out there. The reason why this one stood out to me is, first of all, the woman who designed it has done a bunch of TED Talks and they were quite compelling.

Also, she designed it specifically for accomplishing a larger life goal by breaking it up into smaller things, and also incorporated a lot of other interesting aspects to keep you going. For her, that was getting over a concussion that she was having trouble recovering from, and taking what she learned from that, and then combining it with other things from positive psychology that we've talked about on this, as well as other tools.

The way this one works is, you have your overarching goal that you're going for, and you could change this whenever you want. It could be something very vague. That goal could be something like, "I want to have happier relationships, or I want to have a job that I love." Could be whatever. Then you have what are called quests, those are the achievable things. It's set up so that you do three of those each day.

You might have a bunch of quests in your log, but each day, you choose, "I'm going to do these three." Again, you fill up your progress bar, so that you've gotten all three, and then you're like, "Okay, I've done the quest section." That that part is very similar to the other gamification apps out there, where it's about putting your goals into this app, and then you get experience points and you level up, and does fireworks and whatever, that.

What's interesting about this one, is that there's also a section for power ups. This one I really like, because the power ups aren't specifically like a goal. The power ups are just a good thing you can do to help yourself, right? This is where it's things like drinking a glass of water, going for a walk around the block, giving yourself a compliment, appreciating your physical body for what it is regardless of whether you want to improve that or not, still appreciating it as it is right now. Or sending a kind note to someone like that. That those are separate from just these other more tangible goals, and that they're like a power up to help you accomplish that thing.

Then there's also a category that's called bad guys. So again, trying to make it like a video game. The bad guys would be things like a certain type of procrastination. Like, "Oh, I get distracted by Facebook while I'm trying to get work done." If we put this in terms of relationships, you can put your own things. Like one of my bad guys would be prioritizing my own lack of self esteem, over being compassionate and caring to a partner. Something like that.

Then when you click on that bad guy, you can say like, "Did I win this battle or did I lose this battle?" Then update it on like, "How tough is this bad guy for me right now?" Then eventually, you can even get to the point where you say like, "I've vanquished this bad guy. It's not a concern anymore, and it will basically delete it from your list." I found that adding that other aspect, and those of course, also have their progress bars. It's about like, "Have you confronted these things each day?" I think that is a really interesting thing, especially when thinking about applying it to more of personal development and your relationships. Those idea of power ups and overcoming bad guys, and not just about goals, but kind of combining all those together.

Dedeker: Right. Well, I don't know about you all, but I love any kind of hacky tip like, game like, trick that I can apply to my life in order to actually get me to do things that I don't want to do. This is literally fascinating and really interesting. I think, definitely moving forward in my radars, I know you and I, Jase, have done this a little bit already, but I definitely want to apply this in my radars in other relationships. Having that sense when it comes specifically to action of like, "How can we gamify this a little bit, in order to actually get us to do things?" I think that's my biggest takeaway from what we've talked about today.

Jase: Yes. I think the thing for me has been-- because I've been into gamification for a while, and will get into it for a while, and then not as much for a while. I do find it to be very helpful, but I think part of it is experimenting to find what works the best for you. Actually for me, this Bullet Journal has hit a sweet spot of gamification for me, in terms of having a checklist I can actually check off every day, is much more motivating than my previous ways of doing to-do lists. Which just feel like, "I'm doing the same thing every day. I'm not ever accomplishing anything."

I would encourage people to experiment a little bit. Try some things, try some of these apps. See which ones are exciting to you. Which ones are you like, "Oh, man. I want to get that next cooler hat for my character by doing my to-do list items." Or if it's one that has to do with, you put money into it that you get to save up and if you accomplish enough things, then you get to spend that on a new video game, or on some new clothes in real life. There's lots of different ways that you can incentivize these things. Just experiment see what works for you.

Emily: Yay.