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Why Humans Are Drawn to Gamesby@benoitmalige
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Why Humans Are Drawn to Games

by BenoitMaligeApril 22nd, 2024
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Gamification is a proven strategy. It transforms how we work, shop, and interact.
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Do you often take things too seriously? Do you get anxious a lot?


Anxiety comes from a lack of perspective.


If you’re missing perspective, you can’t see the bigger picture. Perspective gives you clarity of thought.


Without it, you are unable to solve problems. You feel stuck. Negative emotions overweigh positive experiences. You feel as if an invisible cloud is always present around you, obsctructing your mental acuity.


You feel it deep down. You really want to break free, but it feels tough.


I was always called ‘too serious’. And for good reasons: Because I was. I lacked perspective and felt trapped in the mental prison that I created for myself.


You probably know that feeling because you have it too — We all do. We get caught up in the daily stress. It feels like we are missing something but we can’t quite grasp what it is.


Now I do.


What I didn’t realize, is that I was playing in a game all along. And I was doing it without knowing the rules.


If you are still feeling the same way, it’s because you haven’t figured it out yet.


We are all playing a game.


The Game of life.


Some might even say we are living in a Simulation. Whether you believe in this or not, it doesn’t matter. The game of life is here. It’s up to you to choose to learn the rules, or get left behind.


So don’t be like me and wait 36 years to discover this.


As soon as I made that shift, I became more engaged in everything I did. I got 150% more motivation. Nowadays, I always perform at a higher level. Everything is fun, easy and exciting.


When things get hard, it’s just fuel for extra motivation.


The reason I am able to do this is because I finally understood the rules of the game of life. And these rules, I want to teach them to you, because nobody else will.


Think about where we often get our guidance. If you’re like me:


Parents were our first teachers.


They wanted the best for us, but sometimes they didn’t have all the answers. They taught us what they knew which might have not been enough.


School was about academics.


Math, science, and more. But it missed the real stuff, like handling the curveballs fo life. Schools fill our heads with facts to remember, rarely with complete understanding of what’s after.


Friends were on their own path.


They went to the same schools, had parents from the same generation, and were just as busy figuring things out.


Two things are key here: The first is to realize life is a game, the second is to get armed with the unwritten rules.


Once you do, the challenges that seemed insurmountable become exciting puzzles waiting to be solved. The daily grind transforms into an purposelful quest for growth and self-discovery.


I want you to picture yourself waking up every morning, not with fear, but with a burning anticipation for the day's challenges.

Imagine embracing this anticipation.


Visualize seeing each obstacle as a stepping stone to success.


Envision commanding your destiny with fearless determination and absolute authority.


This is what I want you to get from this letter.


Before, I was stressed. — All — The — Time. I felt like I was aging too fast, and I lacked control over my own destiny.


Everything seemed difficult and painful.


Now, I am am having fun. And I am winning the game.


So learn the rules with me, and win the game of life.


1. Most companies have figured it out. It’s time you do too.


Have you noticed that games are all around you? Even the companies you work for or shop at?


Gamification is a proven strategy. It transforms how we work, shop, and interact.


Microsoft boosted contact center productivity and engagement by introducing a system of points, badges, and personalized goals.


The result? A 12% drop in absenteeism and a an increase in productivity.


Dating apps have turned the search for a match into an engaging game, with mechanisms like:


  • Swipe decisions

  • Rewards for daily logins

  • Achievement Badges

  • Progression systems

  • Personality Quizzes


Through these gamification techniques, they make the process of finding a match more entertaining. You are encouraged to spend more time on the platform and engage more deeply.


And this isn't limited just to tech giants.


Retailers and workplaces are doing it too. They use leaderboards, points, and badges to motivate and engage employees and customers.


You see, gamification taps into our natural desires for achievement, learning, and socializing.


The point I am trying to make here is that a lot of companies have figured this out. They are applying gamification to engage and leverage people’s natural desires for things like:


  • self expression

  • socializing

  • learning

  • competition

  • status


But the draw towards games goes beyond simple entertainment; it taps into the core of our being.


When we engage with points, levels, progress bars, goals, and instant feedback, we're not just participating in a game—we're engaging with a fundamental part of what makes us human.


2. Why are humans drawn to games?


Gamification leverages our deepest motivations, and there’s a reason for that. Turns out, there are 6 main biological factors that we can trace back to.



1 - Dopamine Release: Playing games triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. When you succeed in a game by:


  • Solving a puzzle

  • Completing a level

  • Winning against an opponent


2 - Learning and Brain Plasticity: You have a constant desire to learn and explore. This is supported by your brain’s plasticity. Games stimulate the cognitive processes like:


  • Problem-solving

  • Spacial navigation

  • Strategy

  • Quick decision making


When you engage in these activities, it enhances your brain’s function and neuroplasticity.


3 - Stress Response and Play: Playing games reduces stress levels because the release of endorphins are stimulated. This is your body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Animals play too. This is often how they (and you and me), learn social skills naturally.


4 - Competition and Cooperation: This has always been crutial to our survival as a species. Games simulate these aspects of social interaction, and they activate ancient brain areas responsible for navigating social hierarchies, alliances, and rivalries.


5 - Reward Circuits and Feedback Loops: Games provide immediate feedback and rewards. They are designed to exploit the reward circuits effectively. This creates a loop that promotes engagement. Just like finding food, or social interaction.


6 - Risk and Reward Assessment: The prefontal cortex is stimulated when strategy and uncertainty is involved.


Before we bridge the understanding of our natural attraction to games into the real-world application, I have to bring up about the holy grail of games.


The ones that are the most addictive, the most rewarding and most lucrative: Video games.


What we can learn from video games.


The reason I wanted to study them is that they are specifically engineered to keep you engaged so that you stay on the platform for as long as possible in order for you to get shown ads, or purchase products inside.


Video games captivate us in ways real life often doesn't.


I want to specifically pinpoint three aspects that set them apart.

Video games have better clarity of objectives.

Most of the time, we know exactly what to do. Steps are broken down to smaller steps.


In real life, it’s more random. You usually don’t know you are playing the game.


You are born in a random family. You are not given a clear tutorial on what to do, or what the game it. You are expected to figure it out on your own, with barely to no guidance.


Worst part is, people around you tell you to get a good job, settle down, get a house. There is no clarity on this. There is no clear vision.


Video games have less friction.

In a video game, obtaining new skills equates to a couple of clicks on the mouse or screen. Let’s take your physical appearance for example.


In a video game, you simply get to choose your character type. If you want him jacked, just select that option. It’s that easy.


In real life, things take longer, there is a lot more friction. There are multiple iterations. Things take a lot longer.


  • Finding the right relationship will most likely require multiple attemps.
  • Learning a valuable skill will require time, and often sacrifices — like choosing to not go out with your friends in order to finish the course you bought.
  • Getting jacked will require you to eat enough protein, and workout consistently.

Results will appear over time, not after a few clicks.

Video games have less risk.

If you die in a video game, you just get to start over. It’s that simple. Risks are virtual, they don’t have real life consequences.


There’s this beautiful freedom to mess up, dust yourself off, and dive back in. In a game, you're encouraged to leap into the unknown, to explore wildly and live out scenarios you'd never dream of in the real world.


Real life has consequences and irreversible paths. It doesn’t offer the same luxury. And society, parents, school, friends too often remind us of that.



4. The Rules of the Game of Life.


Alright.


The moment you've been waiting for has arrived. Let’s dive in.


How to become the best player you can be, regardless of the cards you were delt with?


Let’s use the best of video games, apply them to real life.


The timeless areas we want to master in life are:


  • Health

  • Wealth

  • Knowledge

  • Relationships.


It’s been like this since the begining of humanity, and will remain like this forever. It makes these rules evergreen.



  1. Create Your Character.

    Shape yourself actively through self-education, reflection, and by aligning your actions with your values and goals.


  1. Create Momentum

    Like acquiring houses in Monopoly to generate income, momentum in health, wealth, and knowledge is key. Regular effort breeds results.


  1. Foster Persistence Knowledge. More knowledge, all the time. Read, and write to master your thoughts. There is no end to this game. You must never stop learning.


  1. Define what your objectives are. Define your goals, and establish steps to get there. Define the reward that you will get for achieving that goal.


  2. Reduce the difficulty. Create speficic goals (break down goals to small daily tasks to build momentum). It makes it easy, and it coumpounds.


  3. Control Your Attention. Learn to control where your attention goes. Avoid comparisons that lead to suffering and focus on what truly matters to you.


  4. Ignore Societal Programming. The hand you were dealt at birth doesn't dictate your potential for success. History is filled with stories of individuals who overcame their beginnings.


  5. Embrace Infinite Paths.

    Acknowledge that there are endless choices and paths in life. Like character customization in video games, you have the power to decide your appearance, role, and most importantly, your actions. So make them count.


  6. Pursue Continuous Growth. Continuously develop your skills and knowledge to take on more complex challenges. This development is just like leveling up in a game.


  7. Balance Skill and Challenge. Match your skills with the challenges you face to keep engaged and avoid boredom or overwhelming anxiety. Strive for the next level without skipping steps.


  8. Control your thoughts. Your thoughts and actions dictate your reality in the game. Adopt positive mindset, through both Words and Thoughts. Make this a daily practice, ideally before starting your day.



5. Lets talk about Cheat Codes.


Just like in video games, there are cheat codes available in life.


But while it will have an immediate result, it’s always associated with a downside.


Cheating with health when taking steroids will make you grow faster, but will damage your body.


Cheating in business will make you money quicker, will end you with fines, possibly in jail.


Cheating in relationships will give you immediate pleasure, but won’t allow you to have a meaninful relationship. Worse, it will sabotage the foundation for profound connections.


And let’s not forget one of the most important ways to cheat:


Cheating yourself - The greatest deception.


This is the less obvious, but the far too common and damaging one. The one I have struggled with the most.


Cheating yourself is a silent thief of joy that will slowly eat you alive. You ignore your true aspirations, you suppress your inner voice, you mask your flaws. These acts of self-betrayal don't just chip away at your happiness; they completely shatter your self-esteem.


The point is, there is always a way to cheat and temporarily get ahead of the game, but it’s only a matter of time when it sets you back further than where you began.


Plus, isn’t beating a game by playing the rules more rewarding than the feeling of beating it by cheating?



6. This is not a 0 sum Game.


Winning in life doesn't mean everyone else loses.


While the the board might be finite, the game goes on forever.


Even the richest or happiest person can't have everything forever. Everybody dies one day.


There are enough opportunities for everyone to win. There is enough money for eveyone to get rich. There are enough people for everyone to find love.


The best part?


Helping others win is the fastest way to advance in the game of life. Succesful businesses are succesful because their clients are winning.

Succesful relationships are succesful because both parties win.


7. Final toughts


Embrace life's game without fear or hesitation.


Recognize that each challenge is not a setback but a step forward in mastering the unwritten rules that govern our paths.


When you shift perspective, seeing life not as a series of obstacles but as opportunities for growth, everything changes.


You'll find motivation surges, tasks become engaging, and every day is a chance to level up in your personal journey.


Apply these rules, see yourself addicted to the game of life.


In this grand game, you are both the player and the game maker. Remember: The rules of life are not to bind you, but to forge within you the power to create, conquer, and thrive.


Don’t just play to partake — make your mark.


Don’t just leave your footprints — leave a legacy.


Apply these rules with intention. Challenge the game.


Until next time.


Ben.