Inspired by James Ross’s LAST conference talk on The Shamification of Lamification and the Reclaimification of Gamification I was motivated to try and “Gamify” the school holidays for my three children, Leo aged 8, Chloe 9 and Max 10.
Buy-in is everything, so the first thing we did was a quick workshop to extract the kids ideas. I asked them to write their ideas for good rewards on sticky notes, with a few examples for context, such as ‘trip to the movies or ‘play date with a friend’ . They had 5 minutes to come up with their ideas – one idea per sticky note (as always).
They then read out their ideas for all of us to hear, there were a few duplicates and also a few comedy suggestions. Even though we had ruled out crazy stuff, such as rewards of a million dollars, Leo had written down ‘A unicorn for the back yard’ reading it out with gleeful giggles.
Then they spent 5 minutes writing down tasks that they could do to earn rewards. By now they had the hang of it and quickly came up with tasks and activities they considered worthy of rewards.
I had a few ideas of tasks in mind but theirs impressed me in their knowledge of their stakeholders; including in their jobs to earn rewards , ‘make a cup of tea’ and ‘let Mum and Dad sleep in’.
I then entered them all in Trello and used the Scrum for Trello free extension so I could add Fibonacci scores to each task and reward, allowing the numbers to reflect the size of the task or reward, e.g. an outing to Science Works costs 13 points, whilst ‘feeding the dog’ only earns 2 points, so you need to earn big rewards by doing several small things.
I realised there were many easy tasks for them to do that they hadn’t included and added a ‘Mum’s ideas’ list so they would have more opportunities for racking up big point-scoring tasks during the game.
At this point the game was launched. By the next morning Chloe old had earned 8 points via dog walking and skipping digital screens all morning and was very vocal about getting to a Luna park trip soon. By the afternoon my boys had earned 3 each attending Karate.
Here are a few additional insights and some changes we had to accommodate:
- Where should we store the game rewards and tasks? I want to use Trello because I use it for my personal Kanban and I’m always in that thing, but I’m already realising that the kids loose interest if it’s not available to them all the time. I’m not sure why I didn’t implement a Big Visible Chart from the start, It works for everything else , so of course it would work for this application.
- The good ideas for rewards and tasks just keep on coming, so we’ve decided to allow adding of both if we come up with good ones. We don’t abuse it though, e.g. we can’t just retrospectively claim some points for arbitrary things that are always done in our house, such as clearing the dishes and putting clothes in the laundry, but since there’s lots of trust in our team (because we are a family) any ideas are discussed and we reach a consensus about what is reasonable quite easily.
- Are points transferrable? We decided no. For example, if two kids want to go to the movies, both kids must have accrued the 13 points earned for a trip to the movies. Actually, I didn’t decide this rule, the kids decided it for themselves, I just went with it, as it seemed easier in the administration. The freedom for them to shape the game and the rules increases engagement.
- What if the team are not co-located during the game? With kids sleep overs and various visits to other houses arranged, we’ve decided to print out the list of tasks and rewards for them to score themselves while they’re away. I don’t know how this will go but I’m willing to give it a try to keep the game alive.
- If the concept gets tired and they aren’t earning enough to keep them motivated, I have a few ideas up my sleeve about some ‘bonus point upgrade packs’ to introduce, and maybe some timed challenges to ‘unlock new levels’. And of course we will add in a retro after a few days to inspect and adapt the game.
The result of gaming the holidays? It seems very promising so far, and the involvement factor for them is a definite improvement over me trying to decide activities and things to amuse the kids.
It also promotes fewer hours in electronic games during the holidays. In fact, skipping screens earns you reward points and, funnily enough, they didn’t have ‘play electronics’ as a reward!
Would you turn the holidays into a game for your team? Or even for your family? I'll update this blog at the end of the 2 weeks of school holidays with the results of this 'Gamification' experiment.