• Carl Agers III

How Gamification Can Save You Money

Updated: Jul 17

Photo by: Caleb Woods

Do you remember in the 1984 movie “The Karate Kid” when Daniel (aka Danielson) came to Mr. Miyagi for help learning karate, but instead of giving Danielson the expected “this is how to punch” lessons, Mr. Miyagi has him perform a bunch of chores around his house? Daniel went along with it in the hope that eventually he would actually train him, but eventually he lost his patients and wanted to quit. Right at that moment, Mr. Miyagi shows Danielson that he has been learning karate all along (he does this by throwing arrays of punches and kicks at him). Danielson realizes that his so far emotionless sensei is quite possibly a genius and the two of them go on to dominate the karate tournament! This is one example of how we can learn and perform outside the expectations of modern learning. Gamification is another.

What is Gamification?

The word “gamification” sounds a bit like you took a heap of words and tossed them in a word processor (like a food processor, but for words). I promise, it’s much less confusing than it sounds. Gamification, put simply is the use of game mechanics and experience designed to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. Sometimes gamification can be misconceptualized to mean a thing is merely turned into a game, but this does not do the term justice. Gamification is more based on psychology than it is on just plain competition.

Why do we play games in the first place? Most of us play games to get away from the responsibilities of life, which is ironic because we are taking up new responsibilities in the game. What is the difference? How come when I “get home” from a long day of zoom meetings or writing blogs in my underwear, I often reach for another kind of work: video games. Games are still work. They require effort, critical thinking, determination, and failing over and over again until you get it right. Yet, we play them as if they weren’t a form of work. How come? Your first response might be, “Yes, but obviously my job doesn’t let me throw grenades at zombies coming at me in endless waves, so it’s different.” And, to that I would say, maybe you should find a job that you can do that in. Or maybe, we can rethink the way we work.

Core Motivational Drives

What drives us to want to do something? According to Yu-kai Chou, there are 8 core motivational drives: Meaning, Empowerment, Social Influence, Unpredictability, Avoidance, Scarcity, Ownership, and Accomplishment. This is called the Octalysis. Now, this is not a Tedtalk, so I won’t bore you with the details of each motivation, however, it is important to understand how all 8 are keys to motivation.

I know it’s been a while, but before the shelter-in-place order hit we were allowed to go out to eat at restaurants. At some of these restaurants, the hours 5pm through 7pm would mean that Happy Hour was upon us. I know, I almost forgot about that too (I’m not in Florida partying it up). Some of us can even remember the feeling of enjoying a Happy Hour. The thrill of the lowest prices, saving money left and right while simultaneously enjoying time with friends and family at a great restaurant or bar. Well, at least that’s what I would guess. I personally can only speculate as I turned 21 during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I digress. Well, Chances are when you were at the table you ordered more than you would normally eat or drink. The Octalysis would suggest that you’ve done this out of the motivational drive of scarcity. The only thing worse than missing Happy Hour, (again I can only assume) would be to get there and they run out of your favorite queso quattros dos fritos appetizer! Without even realizing it, you’ve been duped into buying food and drinks in the first place. Whether you enjoyed it or not is up to you. It’s not a bad or evil thing, but our motivations are constantly being pulled at. So, how do motivations come into play with gamification?

Photo by: Catt Lui

Gamification in Daily Life

If you know you and your roommate need to clean up the apartment, you are probably going to not clean that apartment, unless of course you have raw determination. But, if there was a game you could play that would gamify the mundane task it might become palatable to your brain. This game actually exists. Chore Wars was created by a powerful being who found a way to motivate herself and her significant other to complete chores. We are more willing to play a game that we are not forced to do. Therefore, if we can play a game that involves us cleaning up around the house, we will enjoy it more. This game is an Augmented Reality (AR) game. AR games are those that have another world within them where you can interact with a separate reality. These games are some of my favorites, because oftentimes I just need to disappear. Chore Wars is just one of the many games that are now available to users looking for an alternative way to be productive. Maiven has taken the baton in stride for finding the AR solution of gamifying saving money. Using the four components of a game: goals, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation, just about anything can be gamified. is a new game that takes budgeting to new heights. Budgeting, like most financial aspects, can be a real chore. Setting up a budget is never as easy or as fun as it should be. So, why don’t we create a goal to hit, rules for getting to that goal, continuous feedback on our progress, and volunteer to do this? This is what Maiven has achieved. The best games are those that the user barely feels like they are being nudged towards the achievement and instead it feels as if the user has found the next level on their own. I remember playing the famous LEGO StarWars video game on the PS2 for a majority of my childhood. The game was so great because it seemed like the levels never ended too easily. There were always challenges that I faced, whether it be redirecting missiles or Jar Jar Binks needing to jump on to a ledge. No matter how the level went, when I would complete a mission I would feel a huge sense of accomplishment and pride. This quality of playing should be visible in all great games. is no walk in the park either. The game presents the user with replicated monsters who represent their expenses. It can be a lot to fend off at first. Maiven’s game has all the components of a great game, we just include your finances into the mix. Before too long, you will be the master of your own budget and you’ll get to reap the savings you earned! Maiven believes that a budget can be fun, and as seamless as Danielson learning karate. Play your way towards a better budget.


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