Why hard work others ask us to do doesn't inspire us

In our real lives, hard work is too often something we do because we have to do it—to make a living, to get ahead, to meet someone else’s expectations, or simply because someone else gave us a job to do. We resent that kind of work. It stresses us out. It takes time away from our friends and family. It comes with too much criticism. We’re afraid of failing. We often don’t get to see the direct impact of our efforts, so we rarely feel satisfied.

Or, worse, our real-world work isn’t hard enough. We’re bored out of our minds. We feel completely underutilized. We feel unappreciated. We are wasting our lives.

When we don’t choose hard work for ourselves, it’s usually not the right work, at the right time, for the right person. It’s not perfectly customized for our strengths, we’re not in control of the work flow, we don’t have a clear picture of what we’re contributing to, and we never see how it all pays off in the end. Hard work that someone else requires us to do just doesn’t activate our happiness systems in the same way. It all too often doesn’t absorb us, doesn’t make us optimistic, and doesn’t invigorate us.

What a boost to global net happiness it would be if we could positively activate the minds and bodies of hundreds of millions of people by offering them better hard work. We could offer them challenging, customizable missions and tasks, to do alone or with friends and family, whenever and wherever. We could provide them with vivid, real-time reports of the progress they’re making and a clear view of the impact they’re having on the world around them.

That’s exactly what the game industry is doing today. It’s fulfilling our need for better hard work—and helping us choose for ourselves the right work at the right time. So you can forget the old aphorism “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” All good gameplay is hard work. It’s hard work that we enjoy and choose for ourselves. And when we do hard work that we care about, we are priming our minds for happiness.


Folksonomies: gamification

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The Work (0.911360): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Right-wing politics (0.830227): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Reality Is Broken
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  McGonigal, Jane (2011-01-20), Reality Is Broken, Penguin, Retrieved on 2014-06-21
  • Source Material [books.google.com]
  • Folksonomies: psychology