The Great Little Secret of Gamification taken from Top Athletes — and Gurus

The information age has one serious side effect: It has increased its ability to distract and overload us with non-essentials. 

In the midst of our ongoing lockdown, we often find ourselves in our individual bubble where, more often than not, our access to information isn’t just TV anymore, it’s the internet, it’s our smartphones that constantly pinches us with notifications.

If curiosity killed the cat, well, with Google, YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, we're all cats now, thank you very much.

Personalized technologies and the Internet 2.0, have developed to a point where it has the capacity to manipulate our specific behavior and create tailor-made distractions to keep us from doing what needs to be done.

As a result, we're all struggling against concentration; we’re all fighting the disease of chronic distraction

To be entirely focused has become golden. If time is gold, then getting a hold of yourself for a single concentrate of time has become valuable competency--a competitive edge, if you may.

 Meditation gurus have popped up because our need to reclaim our focus has increased. To keep our sanity intact, most of us just want to seclude our minds from the constant bombardment of information brought about by the environment and by our own internal ramblings. We want to do this to rest or do what needs to be done.

Gamification also plays a vital role in putting your mind to focus.

A well-designed gamification platform can be likened to playing the sport you love or enjoying a musical instrument, drawing, or sometimes, free-flow writing. When you play a game, you have higher engagement with your activity. It is during these moments you can become focused, concentrated, and mindfully productive.

The Holy Grail among sports athletes is their ability to get “into the zone”. Within the zone, their concentration in the game is extremely positive. They have a clear focus on what they want to do. They see the bigger picture of their participation in the game; they are confident, pure in their thoughts, and negative influences are unable to penetrate their current mindset.

In many ways, being in the zone is no different from achieving a meditative state. Both instances enable you to have a clearer awareness of the present moment. Indeed, our inability to focus on one thing is a consequence of our mind habitually dwelling on the past and the future. Putting yourself in the past leads to regret; anticipating the future leads to anxiety and worry. When you’re in the zone, the past and the future are compartmentalized.

Being in the zone or when in meditation, you get to hold on to the present moment with skill and grace. You are able to seclude yourself from wanting to go into the next thing, or blast through your next to-do list, or reminisce about your past.

By concentrating your focus on the present moment, you have more control and it makes your mind function exponentially better.

This is what playing a game makes us feel, really. A game can make you forget other things, which is why you get lost in it. Playing a game, especially a well-designed one, is tantamount to hot-wiring your mind to put yourself into the zone.

Game developers know all too well that some games are designed specifically to become mind-numbingly addictive. A bunch of online games and mobile apps are so ridiculously good, you are hypnotized by them. Of course, this is the dark side of gaming.

Gamification, as far as I know, has no dark side. It is meant to draw players in and put them into the zone and perhaps, to some extent, into a meditative state. The objective is often about improving your skillset, increasing your motivation and productivity, and making the most boring routines become fun again.

We used gamification for two things: enable engagement through improved focus and not be distracted by other things; and two, distill the essence of productivity, by removing the rubbles of the past and future so that you just focus on the present moment. 

The real challenge is on us, really. Our job is to design gamification processes that would essentially drain your sorrows and anxieties away. Add to the fact that we're still waist-deep into the pandemic, we still have work to do.

With clearer focus, we can do it. All of us can.