Why Tracking is a Core Concept for Gamification


After starting by setting your goal the next most important pillar is tracking. How to gamify anything comes down to how you will be able to track your behavior and actions. This is because games always have boundaries or rules that hold  the player within a frame allowing for the measurement towards a goal or sub goal. Translating this concept into our lives sets the requirement for tracking. The tracking allows you to distinguish specific actions from the rest of your daily actions and placing them within the framework you have designed, this process is essential for gamification to take place. You will notice that when you are gamifying something in real life that there is always a form of simplification taking place. This effect is amplified by the limited options we have to track, some things are just not easily measurable like an emotional state. One reason gamification is gaining in popularity today is that smart devices are giving us more options to track our behavior and actions. For example a smart watch is allowing us to keep track of our heartrate all day, and a browser app can tell you what website you spent the most time on. Tracking your heartrate without a goal is not gamification yet. Once you put your data within the context of your goal and sub goals, you will want to add some rewards for achieving each milestone and the final goal. 

Examples from games

= Checkmate
= In chess the board is the framework that is responsible for all the tracking that takes place. Basically as a player you must keep track of all your figures on the board, as well as the opponents. With every move you will reassess the figures in relation to your end-goal of putting the king in checkmate or stopping it from going into checkmate. Some people have the ability to play chess blindfolded, they keep track of the figures on the board in their heads. 

End Goal 
= Finish the off the final boss battle, or self created goal
Even in a game like Minecraft which is extremely open about how to play it, game developers have implemented tracking to help the player understand their progression through the game. The world itself is the framework, achievements are used to show the player that they have discovered something new in the game. Additionally you can craft a map to track your position or craft signs so that you can place your own type of tracking. The UI (user interface) or HUD is another tool that the game developers use to track the players most relevant information while they play, often displaying their health, location and abilities.


How does it benifit my everyday life

Lets get into some examples by listing some different types of tracking; say your goal is to become better at drawing. The framework relates to your goal and therefor requires you to track something that is connected to your drawing. There are multiple approaches on how you can track yourself on your journey to get better at drawing. The simplest way is to note down every time you sat down to draw. This might be documented on a sheet of paper, through checks or over an app to your phone like habithub (Although habithub merely notes if you did something on that day and does not document how often). Another approach would be timing yourself which is one of my favorite methods because it requires you to pay attention to your distractions and really gives you an overview on how much you are actively working on your goal. This method is more difficult to track since you need to remember to write down these times. The 10000 hour tracking app could be a useful app for this type of tracking. There are many more ways to track your progress and essentially it depends on what you would like to accomplish. If you just want to make sure you do something every day it would be easiest to use something like habit hub, but if you are trying to finish a complex goal that has multiple little aspects that need to be accomplished, then it might be best to chunk down that goal in smaller goals and track the achievement of each individually sub-goal. What I am trying to make clear here is that tracking needs to be tailored to your goals that you are aiming to achieve. It also might not be very practical to track every detail and in most cases it is not necessary. We all know getting started is often the hardest part, therefor having a simple checklist for doing something can be motivating to at least start every day. Say you want to get more fit and stronger. You could write down all the workouts you do and the weights you use, tracking the time it took to accomplish the training, but the effort alone of writing all this down might demotivate you completely. (This is me majorly speaking out of experience btw, during this project I have been haunted by the overwhelming possibilities of gamifying my life. Taking a step back and simplifying it has been a major lesson for me. If I am not following through, its usually because I made it too hard on myself.) Back to the fitness example: A better approach would be to simply write down that you worked out that day so that you can keep an eye out for the days you missed. Seeing that you worked out 5 days in a row no matter how big the workout, can be very motivating to keep that streak going. (Small disclaimer here, you should take breaks from working out too. Muscle growth happens when you sleep.)

How i can implement this gamification idea

Tracking types I have encountered so far:

1- Checklist Tracking: if I did or did not do it today

2- Counting Tracking: how often I did something

3- Time Tracking: how long have I been doing something

4- GPS Tracking: where have I done something

5- Emotional Tracking: how did I feel doing something

6- Subgoal Tracking – achieving the different milestones towards a bigger goal (this one might involve you using different tracking for each subgoal)

In my attempts to track, I found that every goal needs a different approach and so far I have not found an applications that allows for the flexibility to track in all kinds of different ways. If you found one please let me know! Currently I am tracking in google sheets and Notion.so. These both use charts like excel and with the use of formulas I can individualize my tracking to different goals.

There are apps that do allow you to track specific things very well like any running app is great at noting your running path, as long as you have a good GPS connection. Some will even track you heart rate and oxygen levels, given you have a smart watch or other device with those sensors. Any task done on a computer tends to be easier to track than otherwise. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.