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Author Topic: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game  (Read 9365 times)

nudone

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IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« on: August 01, 2006, 01:26:26 PM »
do you get enough done? are you a hardcore 'procrastinator'? have you read loads of 'self-motivation' blogs and felt inspired to become more organised and productive only to become disillusioned after your life didn't change the very next day? then read on, we may be able to help each other...

my IDEA revolves around using 'gameplay' or 'competition' to help oneself get things done - the things you keep promising yourself that you'll do but because there isn't someone standing over your shoulder with a whip, you just keep finding other things to do.

i've not fully fleshed out what is required so this IDEA request is as much a plea for other like minded people to jump in and offer suggestions to make the 'game' work.

my belief is that one way of getting things done is by using peer pressure or by incorporating a competitive element. so, in order to get the things done that you keep putting off for absolutely no good reason we make a kind of pact - we vow that we'll play by the rules of the game i'm about to outline and by doing so, your incentive will be to do well in the game, which is as a direct result of your non procrastinating efforts.

the basic idea for the 'game' is this:

you outline your tasks for the oncoming week (or whatever time period - the game can accommodate this) that you wish to accomplish. you assign a value for each of your tasks, maybe something as simple as 1 point for a completed task and 0 points for task unfinished - perhaps even negative points could be incorporated into the rules of the game.

your planned 'task list' is then made public to the other people playing the 'game' - your task list does not have to be descriptive it can simply be a list of 'task 1, task 2, task 3, etc, etc.', providing the task numbers represent something real to you then you can keep them private.

throughout the week you then keep score of your activities - earning a point for each successfully completed task. there would be no point in cheating as trying to distort the truth of your activities would obviously mean you are merely continuing to procrastinate - the only real victory comes from the knowledge that you have honestly awarded yourself the correct points to the tasks you said you would complete.

the points and finished tasks are then posted to the 'gameboard' which keeps score for all of the players. this could be updated daily or weekly - or perhaps there could be separate categories for different levels of procrastinator to enter into.

trivial planned tasks that are solely created to earn easy points would not be allowed - again, this is simply down to the individual player to decide upon - they are only cheating themselves if they are not overcoming 'real' procrastination.

throughout the game the players may post comments on how they are performing and encouragement may be given by other players - perhaps the game rules could be designed in such a way that other players could award points to another players successfully completed task - bonus points for a particularly 'procrastinatory' task.

now, as i said, the main reward is the fact that the player is overcoming stagnation and getting things done. the 'fun' incentive is to earn points and move up the 'control freak' scoreboard and have a bit of fun by participating against fellow procrastinators - these being your 'virtual' peer group.

there isn't really any 'coding snack' involved for the project idea - well, it would be nice to have an online scoreboard and means of posting comments for proposed task lists and words of encouragement.

obviously, a lot of this is already going on here at DC and at other forums - i'm merely trying to create a 'game' dimension so that there is hopefully another incentive level to do things.

i could just start playing 'Control Freak' the game myself but it's really not going to be anywhere near as much fun as playing it with a group of people - like most games.

of course one would have to 'embrace' the philosophy of the game - rather like one might embrace Luke Rhinehart's 'The Dice Man' http://www.lukerhine...t/books5.html#anchor

potential players/contestants please announce yourselves...

Eóin

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2006, 01:37:50 PM »
I like this idea and could certainly see myself participating. I've alot to do, a reasonable amount of time to do it in but.... well actually there really is no excuse for why I don't get things done :) .

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2006, 01:46:30 PM »
welcome, Eóin, you are now on the 'official' players list.

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2006, 01:54:58 PM »
i like the idea too!
maybe we could figure out some more automated script way to keep track..
where's allen  :tellme: :tellme: :tellme:

btw this reminds me of
http://www.nanowrimo.org/
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

ps. vrgirl here on this forum actually wrote a full novel in 2003 at this site.

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2006, 02:09:33 PM »
well, i was thinking as this is still a coding snack then perhaps there could be a little utility that you entered your details into - like a very simply planner/calendar - this would keep track and then upload the information to the scoreboard when you clicked 'send'.

this isn't really necessary i admit - instead of the little util, a players score could just be kept on a piece of scrap paper until they entered the information to the online scoreboard. maybe a little util thingy would make it more fun?

the scoreboard is the most worthy feature to automate so i assume this is what you were referring to, mouser. i've no idea about php or whatever would be required but i guess there are ready made bits of code already out there just waiting to be edited(?)

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2006, 02:11:57 PM »
writing a novel would be a cool thing to do i must say. but the game can accommodate any task so hopefully when things are started we'll see many a wonderful project introduced and then completed by the participants.

Eóin

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2006, 02:44:28 PM »
Trac is an example of web based software for setting goals and keeping track of the progress of a project. Now it's not particularly suited to this as it's really desinged for managing collaborative opensource project (it even has a SVN browser bultin) but I think its concept of milestones and tickets is something to learn form.

Basically you setup up some milestones and then you create tickets which can represent tasks (or bugs, etc) you assign tickets to milestones and it'll give you a roadmap view of your progress. I find it great as I type up a few tickets when I'm feeling idle but not in the mood to program, then later when in the right mood I check the trac site as say; "Ah i'll work that specific task now". If you finish it you tick it off and you really feel like you've accomplished something.

There are a number of projects using trac, one randomly chosen would be [url=http://www.tortall.net/projects/yasm/]YASM[/trac], you could browse it to see what I'm talking about.

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2006, 03:05:49 PM »
thanks for pointing that out, Eóin.

perhaps we could incorporate 'Trac' into the 'game'. it would be optional to use and whatever features are available would simply be down to the 'player' to select. they could then announce that their 'Trac' is viewable to the other players - who could then comment on it or offer guidance if the owner requested it.

i see this project as being very open - the crucial part is the 'scoreboard' and the rules of play - whatever the players wish to use to help them stop procrastinating is up to them.

it would be nice to have a cut down simplified version of 'Trac' incorporated directly into the 'Control Freak' game (if it helps players) but i have no idea how difficult these sorts of things would be to accommodate.

the 'game' could begin well before these kinds of 'advanced' features were introduced. the essential ingredient simply being that we need a few more 'players' at the moment.

things like 'how do newcomers compete against longstanding scoreboard leaders' need to be sorted out. is the scoreboard reset each week, is there a hall-of-fame board?

Eóin

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2006, 03:20:15 PM »
it would be nice to have a cut down simplified version of 'Trac' incorporated directly into the 'Control Freak' game (if it helps players) but i have no idea how difficult these sorts of things would be to accommodate.

Thats what I was thinking but I do agree that it could be alot of work.

urlwolf

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2006, 06:32:04 PM »
I like the idea.
Maybe starting a google calendar where we all could add and remove tasks (each of us with a different name and color) could offer a nice visual index of progress. The points and scoreboard, I guess it would have to be independently coded anyway. We might need a moderator to assign points?

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2006, 06:38:45 PM »
i really like the idea of this - maybe if you guys could hone down some more rules and display ideas based on nudone's enunciated central concepts:
Quote
my belief is that one way of getting things done is by using peer pressure or by incorporating a competitive element. so, in order to get the things done that you keep putting off for absolutely no good reason we make a kind of pact - we vow that we'll play by the rules of the game i'm about to outline and by doing so, your incentive will be to do well in the game, which is as a direct result of your non procrastinating efforts.

it might make a good coding snack and/or web scripting challenge for the programming school.

JavaJones

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2006, 08:49:24 PM »
This idea sounds pretty cool.

For some reason it reminds me of an approach I read about quite a while ago where people work in pairs or teams to motivate to get things done in their own lives. Like you and a friend both agree that you have things you want to work on. You have a meeting and talk and figure out what those things are - maybe pursuing a life-long dream of learning the piano, or maybe as simple as getting more done during the week. You each have your outlined goals and you meet once a week to talk about your progress and see how you can help the other person achieve their goals. It's all about support. It's definitely different than the competition approach, but I think the common element is essentially accountability and outside consequence. If you don't get something done you have to tell your support partner about it, or in this case in the game you'll get a lower score.

I frankly think the personal element is probably most likely to be effective, provided you can find someone who will hold you to your goals, and to whom you can do the same. The game sounds like it could work too, but since there's no real reward, and no way to actually measure (it's all the honor system) it's a bit iffy. It's "just for fun", of course, and "the only person who loses is the player" if they cheat, but that's pretty much the same argument that people give themselves when they procrastinate, so I'm not sure it's a reliable assumption that people wouldn't cheat, or that their cheating wouldn't matter. I guess ultimately in any case it's all about the quality of people you have involved.

The other thing is, even assuming people would be honest, adequately matching up people's task lists and effort with other people to actually arrive at a meaningful competitive score would be hard. You wouldn't so much be necessarily competing against others as against yourself, your previous scores or perhaps your expected score, or the score you think you *should* have. That might be better, really.

Trying to match up people's score could only really be done if you measured tasks in terms of hours, I think. That inherently limits the scores, for one thing, and it also gives you some rough equivalency between tasks. So a task's "score" would maybe be the number of hours it takes. Perhaps a "difficulty" or "effort" rating could also be assigned. If you wanted to make that fair though you'd have to compose it of standard elements, like "data entry = 1 point, solving a complex problem = 3 points, moving heavy objects = 3 points, light outdoor manual labor = 2 points". You'd want to make the tasks as non-specific as possible while still being able to safely encompass the intended tasks and reasonably assign a common value to them. You'd give examples of each general category, like "light outdoor manual labor, for example pulling weeds or mowing the lawn". Perhaps that would be modulated then by a "profile" - someone could fill out a profile indicating how adept or inclined they are to mental vs. physical effort, what kind of shape they're in maybe even (for physical tasks), etc. Another possibly useful thing would be to have people score their distaste for the task at hand - if someone *really* doesn't want to do something and they end up doing it anyway they get more points. But again this would be hard to keep fair.

Maybe all that is going a bit far, and of course this could still be cheated too, but I think it gets us closer to a true "system" rather than an informal and thus largely meaningless simplistic approach. The simple approach is a lot easier and faster, and *could* work, but I just think if you have people involved who are prone to procrastination it's not really going to work unless the system is a bit smarter in comparing people's tasks and doesn't let people totally control task specifics so that they can remain somewhat comparable. You want it so that the competition really feels meaningful. Ideally there'd even be prizes or some kind of reward, but you'd only want to do that if you could get the system to be smart and fair enough.

I think there are calendar components out there ready-made and free/open source (for PHP and other web languages). There are probably components to handle most of the parts of this sort of system, at least the basic idea originally outliend. It seems fairly simple, really.

Anyway I'd probably give this a shot, whatever form it takes. Just to see how it goes.

- Oshyan

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2006, 02:39:30 AM »
you've raised some very important and interesting points, javajones.

it would be great to have complex rule system for those wishing to play a 'serious' game but my feelings are that simplicity is the way to go - just to allow anyone to get involved with the minimum of fuss.

as the game isn't actually underway it's almost impossible to know what is required to make the game work but, again, keeping it as simple as possible strikes me as the way to start. maybe there could be an 'advanced' players area that allowed for many of the details to be included that you outlined.

i am speaking from a personal bias, of course. i don't really feel that i need to break down my planned tasks into specific categories - like i said earlier, the tasks wouldn't even have to be revealed to the other players - they are just personal markers that need to be completed.

i think i may have read/heard about the buddy system you mention (might have been in one of those popular self-help books, Anthony Robbins or someone) and it certainly sounds like a good way of getting results. even though it sounds like such a good idea i wonder how often such advice is put into practise - the problem being that it is an effort all in itself - perhaps even more of an effort is required to get together with someone than it is to complete other personal procrastinated tasks. hard to say and depends on the individual. also, there are people i know that may equally want to get things done in their life but they would view such 'motivation meetings' as nothing less than interference and busy-bodying - i probably would too and that explains why i haven't done it.

to me, the awarding of points is for overcoming procrastination. it isn't for the effort involved. as you clearly described, it would be difficult to categories different kinds of 'work'. you gain a single point because you have managed to do the most important thing - which is to actually begin the task. well, i see that the point should be awarded once the task is completed.

the point of the game is to monitor just those little moments in our lives where we say we'll begin a task and when we complete it. the task is irrelevant in itself. the crucial parts are starting and completing the task. we all know that once we begin something it is usually quite easy to keep the momentum going - we then just wonder to ourselves why we didn't start the task earlier. the second and perhaps greater problem is to actually complete the task and so the points can only be assigned after that.

i've seen many postings on this forum about people making pledges that they will get something done for the benefit of DonationCoder.com. i've made such pledges myself so i know how it goes. the will is there to do these things but the task becomes overshadowed by other ambitions until the original post/declaration just serves as an embarrassing reminder that, yet again, we have been a right big procrastinator. (i've walked away from my computer and now just come back and can't remember what the point of that paragraph was.)

the problem of trying to keep the game competitive and yet incorporate a 'fair' point awarding scheme makes me think that the scoreboard should be a measure of personal success rate. if you say you will complete 7 tasks over the following week and another player says they will aim to only achieve 3 then we obviously need a percentage point rating system.

i understand that players may feel that their particular tasks are more involved or more deserving than some other players tasks but this is not the point of the game. a task of painting the garden shed is equal to reading a boring/fascinating text book if they are both tasks that are being avoided by the players involved. the game is about overcoming inertia and 'getting things done' and rewarding yourself for breaking through that invisible barrier.

the rules are really very simple (if these do become the rules) but it can be made more complicated on a personal level. allowing comments/posts to be made between the players should provide a method or outlet where a player can ask for encouragement or describe how difficult they believe their task(s) to be, etc, etc. if a player feels that they require more rules for the game to be 'fun' they could, perhaps, state they are playing by rule set B or C or whatever. they would still acquire the same points for their results as every other player but they could perhaps have a flag or marker next to their name indicating that they were playing by the more advanced rule set.

the scoreboards function isn't really about seeing who is 'winning'. it is more of a record of what you have done or didn't do. perhaps there should be an indication of the number of successful and unsuccessful tasks completed for each player, or a percentage should i say.

anyone wishing to cheat is beyond help as far as i can see. what on earth they think they would be accomplishing i have no idea. if they were obvious cheats then i think it might provide another level of amusement within the game.

app103

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2006, 06:26:13 AM »
If I can figure out how to do it (not sure my skills are up to that yet) I might be able to make a special DC edition of my ToDo List program.

Maybe add a feature that it will score you 1 point and send in the info, every time you move something from the ToDo side to the Done side.

But if you wait for me to figure out how, it might be awhile. I have never made anything that connects to the internet other than a few things with IE based browser objects.

I have a project on the back burner right now because all attempts to make it work properly have failed. It is supposed to fetch a few text files from the internet. It has some serious bugs. I just don't have the understanding & skills needed to make internet enabled applications work yet.  :(

I might be able to talk to a friend of mine and see if she would be willing to add to my code and do it. I would probably have to drag her here or to the irc channel to talk to mouser about it ...if she agrees to do it.

Or I would be willing to share the source with another Delphi programmer here, if they want to do it.

Or I could convert it to a BCB 6 project for someone, if needed.

Just a thought.


nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2006, 10:18:41 AM »
thank you for the offer, app.

if you feel it is something that is worthy of your time then it will be appreciated. i would wait until we have a bit more interest in the project before committing yourself to coding for it as it's all a bit up in the air as to what will be required.

perhaps i need to state a set of rules and see if the 'players' so far announced will be happy to start the game.

a trial run might be the way to sort it all out - then we can all offer suggestions as to what needs to be done or changed.

is anyone up for a test game?

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2006, 03:35:36 PM »
i'm in.  :up:

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2006, 03:43:11 PM »
great. i'm glad to hear it.

we shall have to set a start day/time - how about this coming sunday or monday.

hopefully there will be more game testers announced by then.


nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2006, 02:30:20 AM »
i'm wondering if there ought to be a 'risk' factor involved in the game.

something like, you declare the tasks you wish to complete for the oncoming week but if you only wish to do one task then the possibility that you'll start/complete it is quite high. whereas, if you wish to complete a great number of tasks, then there is a greater chance that you will fail some of them.

more points could be awarded for completing a larger task list than a smaller one. or, returning to what javajones was describing, there needs to be more emphasis on the work involved.

how about a projected task is given a value or weight by the player. they decide how likely or unlikely they are to complete a particular task - just based on their personal experience of their past behaviour. this avoids trying to compare different types of work, like painting the shed or writing an essay, and concentrates on the 'will' required to overcome our lazy ass attitude.

(i realise i'm flitting back and forth about how the rules should be simple or complex. perhaps the project is doomed to never start as there just isn't a satisfactory point awarding scheme.)

app103

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2006, 08:58:51 AM »
thank you for the offer, app.

if you feel it is something that is worthy of your time then it will be appreciated. i would wait until we have a bit more interest in the project before committing yourself to coding for it as it's all a bit up in the air as to what will be required.

I wasn't exactly offering to code it...it's not something I think I can do yet.

Eóin

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2006, 10:13:37 AM »
is anyone up for a test game?

Count me in.

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2006, 11:14:10 AM »
excellent, nice to know you are in, Eóin.

nudone

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Re: IDEA: Control Freak - living in the game
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2006, 08:24:58 AM »
urlwolf mentioned Mark Forsters self-motivation website and books elsewhere on the forum.

it appears that Mr. Forster has also thought about a point scoring method of trying to get things done http://www.markforst...et/index.php?view=64

i wonder if this is going to be a common idea in future as people find that current self-motivation techniques don't provide the miracle cure that people expect.