Gamify your cares away

“IS THIS A GAME TO YOU?”
I have often been asked in heated exchanges with those serious, uptight folks you’re always hearing about.

As a matter of fact, yes.

Gamification is the process of applying game elements to things that aren’t usually associated with games. These elements include; rewards, experience, number chasing, a user-interface, feedback, and recreation, among other things.

An everyday example would be a reward card. Just like a video game, you can increment your experience to hit a goal where you expect something back (on your reward card it might be a voucher to spend, in a game it could be a stat increase). If an online store embraces the similarities between a reward card and a videogame, they can make the shopping experience more exciting. This could trigger more impulse purchases or returning customers. When I purchase from a store, I might receive a message along the lines of “You only need to buy this one other thing to get this free other thing”; just look at WeLoveFine – they operate in that exact way. Knowing that I am so close to a reward will make me consider making that little extra effort to receive it. My GamersGate profile not only has achievements that I can collect, but also an EXP bar and a virtual currency known as Blue Coins. Yes shopping online makes it very easy to see how services are being complicated, and made fun, through gamification.

A regular play-session for me can be anything between 20 minutes and 3 hours. One of the deciding factors in breaking past the 1 hour or 2 hour barriers are whether or not it is worth doing so. My head would argue,

“Well we took a long time getting through that level, you may as well treat yourself to a preview of the next one.”,

or

“I know we were going to stop after acquiring that power-up, but you deserve to be able to use it for just a few minutes, it’ll be fun!”.

You simply cannot stop playing once this happens!

Good games designers would consider this and know how to appropriately reward a player and entice them to work a little harder for the next one, even before the player figures out that the old reward is no longer fun or relevant.

Rewards are the easiest way for me to be motivated to get something done, even if the reward is having that task itself put behind me. In games it’s “I have to risk drowning in the Chemical Plant Zone to enjoy the rest of this amazing game”, and in life it’s more like “When I have weeded this patch, I won’t have weeding to do for ages”. If something is boring or hard to do, simply look at the reward on offer and it will help you get it done.

Why is this the second Zone? Drowning is TERRIFYING when you’re a kid!

Sometimes tasks are huge, or simply unfair. Break down the rewards to work out your completion percentage! Gamifying your life is supposed to be fun, and what better way to have fun on a hard task is there than productive procrastination? When you are done breaking it down, you have the excitement of cracking on with that task and chasing that perfect 100% you’re aiming for.

When your task is broken down to milestones that add up to 100% also calculate reward points. Depending on your task, you might need a reward every 10%, 20%, 25%, 33% or even a break at 50%. Think about it; when you hit that 25% milestone, you only need to work as hard as you have done a further 3 times, and that’s it! Have a Mars Bar when you’ve done it twice more, and you will reach the time where you have only to do 1 of 4 workloads AND you’ve had a Mars Bar. Brilliant.

I prefer Snickers, personally.

I use this method for long efforts such as hiking. I know that I am doing 21KM for the day, so when I’ve done 7, I’ll stop for lunch, and when I’ve done 14, I’ll stop for tea. Every 2KM I’ll stop for a drink of water. The whole time I am visualising this percentage bar over my virtual real-life heads-up display. Google Glass could one day perfectly recreate this method for me naturally and I will not even have to imagine how I gamify my walks, rewards will be automatically noticed!

I’m sure there are countless articles about businesses gamifying to engage customers or to easily mine data, but I don’t want to go into those. You are most likely not a big company or indeed you are not interested in amassing a wealth of personal information from a userbase. I want you, the human, to enjoy life a little more by giving yourself these games. Sure, some things need to be taken seriously, and you should always be appropriate. for instance; driving games should be passive:

“When I pass 5 green cars, I will win the green car game and put my name on top of the green car game leaderboard when I get home”

Not something that would affect your driving:

“If I hit a long stretch of empty road, I need to hit 88MPH before I have to slow down, then I win the McFly award” because you could win yourself a Darwin award, or start collecting points on your license and not in your head.

Go out there, I implore you, and start collecting, amassing, and earning these fictional points, badges, and levels. Get the high-score for not stepping on the cracks (maybe you’ll beat your score on the same commute tomorrow?). Beat the high-score for most sit-ups before breakfast. Become champion of inserting your card into the chip and pin device BEFORE the self-service asks you to do so!

Keep chasing those numbers and level up!

Congratulation, a winner is you!

‘Hard’ can be fun, not punishing

I know I’m a little late to the game, but I have been playing through the original Dark Souls recently. I have never been a fan of difficult games, I give up too easily and look for a guide, or an exploit, or cheat to make things easier and get the whole thing over with (I often pick up a game to experience the story more than anything else). #FilthyCasual, I know, I know, but after seeing the furious dedication that some gamers had for their precious death-laden ‘Dark Souls’, I became curious and picked up the title for a fiver in a Steam sale. One of the best purchases that I have made all year! I’ve been having fun. A lot of it. And that is not without dying more times than the game probably intended (although I made it through Sen’s Fortress on my 4th try without falling to the boss before Anor Londo #PrideThroughTheRoof). I have spent many nights now just wanting to explore that ‘just one more’ region of the meticulously designed map before switching off. The feeling of accomplishment that is found in making it through a particularly stressful or scary area is highly addictive. It is gaming ambrosia, and I have been lapping it up!

First boss of the DLC, the Sancturay Guardian. Tough as nails!

But that’s enough stroking the already established ego of the near-perfect Dark Souls. I wanted to write this post about it because of my recent streaming of the Artorias Of The Abyss DLC. The whole DLC has been constructed as a devilish learning experience. The first boss attacks furiously with claws and a sharp tail, but I managed to tank him and get through to Oolacile. The woods leading to the next boss have a good balance of tough as shit golem dude, and opportunistic asshats with pitchforks. But it was the fight with Artorias that really shines through.

Artorias himself. Best fight so far!

Artorias is somewhat forgiving, in that his moves are well telegraphed with enough timing to dodge (especially useful if he manages to buff himself). Even so, I died a lot just learning what the moves would be. I learnt to not let him buff (by spamming my heaviest attack), and I learned the best times to roll, best directions to roll, and the best times to shield a hit. The combat took practice and became a beautiful sort of dance. Every time I would face him I managed to chip his health down below what I could previously achieve; 70%, 60%, 40%, 20%, and (infuriatingly) 5%. I was rushing to the boss room with excitement every time, knowing exactly where I slipped up the last time and exactly what I should change to stand better odds against the good knight. Defeating him was a wonderful feeling, and it unlocked what felt like twice as much DLC as I had expected. My next target was the dragon I passed on a bridge earlier. I thought I could apply the same ‘learning’ attitude to combat with him, afterall- I have already killed four dragons and two hydras! I was so wrong.

Kalameet. Bastard.

The dragon (that I would later learn is named ‘Kalameet’) passes over the battlefield, spewing black fiery death over the whole area, insta-killing me a number of times. I managed to shield a lot of the damage enough to pick up all the loot on ground, but it seemed that combat was impossible. I gave up and decided to come back later after I’ve had a think about it. It turns out that he is impossible to defeat until a certain conversation with a particularly awesome NPC hidden behind a locked door. The game taught me that a hopeless cause is indeed a hopeless cause, and even though it took me a while before I discovered the helpful conversation, the difficulty was very informative (i.e. GTFO). I have yet to defeat Kalameet. The final part of the DLC involves venturing down into the dark and terrifying abyss. Ghosts everywhere, and the other enemies could easily take me down in less than 3 hits (swarming around me unless tactically lured back to even the odds). It was super spoopy, #2spoopy4me for sure, but I just wanted to know what treasures and secrets hid around every shadowed corner and past each steep path downhill. It was all fun and games until Field Marshall Asshole appeared.

Manus, father of the OH GODS WHAT THE F

Manus wasn’t a pleasant fight. My first encounter with him immediately followed a trip similar to the Tomb of the Giants form the main game, so I was a little bit on-edge and basically panicked. My second fight had me faring better, although ‘better’ wasn’t exactly hard to achieve, and ‘better’ just didn’t cut it. The dude wailed on me, tossing me around like a particularly weighty rag-doll. I fought him one more time before I decided to call it a night. Yes, I still have to come back and fight him, but I know that I can learn his attacks, and I know that I will adapt and become a better player for the constant death that my poor character experiences. And I really, really look forward to it! -PiratPeter

The birth of a new website

Hello!

Welcome to pirat.uk, glad you found it.

As I am writing this, the site is in its infancy, barely a couple of days out of the door (and I’m afraid that right now, it shows). There’s only a little bit of content to view, and the layout of the site is a little bit ‘fluid’ as I change things on the fly (and when I find the time).

You are currently reading a blog post, and I would like to define the content of ‘blog posts’ here in this very first one, before I really kick into gear and get updating. I intend this website to be a great number of things. I intend it to be a repository for every gaming-related thing that I get up to that I care to share with the rest of the world (hello, world). It is a place for me to really speak my mind and let you know what’s going on inside the little bubble that is my gaming world. What am I getting on with outside of streaming playthroughs and uploading video features that could be interesting for visitors of my website to know? I currently haven’t got the foggiest, so I suppose it’ll be progress updates for now (and possibly me hyping over upcoming game releases).

What am I up to right now? Well, I have the enormous task of setting up a pretty, functioning website that I care about greatly, and getting it populated with some good starter content. I am also applying for a role presenting an existing YouTube gaming show in my free time (It’s a great show, and will be a big gig to land considering what I hope to achieve). I really hope to get it, as it will compliment the activities I will get on with for this website, as well as providing me with another outlet for my passion for video games. It’s all very exciting stuff, and I hope to be kept busy for a good long time!

I guess I’ve rambled on enough for now. Here is a picture of where I currently reside.

Lovely place to be outdoors- looking forward to many hours inside playing games and editing videos :p

-PiratPeter