The meaning of life is having problems to fix. The difference is on who will choose these problems.

A conversation about the similarities of a game and the labor role in people'’ lives was the starting point for a broader discussion about how humans are motivated to perform tasks, pursue goals and, essentially, to live.

When studying immersive digital experiences (but not only applied to them), I could see the urgent need to overcome unforeseen challenges in a virtual environment in order to make this alternative existence not only more believable, but also more motivating. What Gamification calls “flow” and Storytelling, “conflict”, is the driving force of life, or better saying, the meaning of life.

And we can user several disciplines and knowledge areas to go deeper on the human behavioral aspects of solving problems. Again, in immersive experiences, the coexistence will only be successful if, individually or collectively, we consider the need (or habit) humans have to face external and recurrent challenges, I mean, problems/issues that are unforeseen and provoked by an external force.

The challenge is out there…

Quoting Joseph Campbell and his Hero’s Journey, the first journey step is to deal with the status quo change (or, according to Campbell, to leave the real world into the mythical one).

I would add that this step can be caused by an inner protagonist (hero) nonconformity with the status quo of by external elements which, by default, change the situation in which the protagonist (hero) was.

In the first case, we are talking about the hero himself going into a ‘discomfortable’ situation, either by the dissatisfaction with the way things happen ‘normally’ or the search for something better, believing that this is only possible when going out of his comfort zone . In the confrontation with external stimuli, there is ‘something’ that comes against the protagonist and forces him to move (a meteor will crash into the earth, a flood will happen, a new competitor came to town, etc).

Surely, in some future research project, I should evaluate the percentage of individuals who, knowingly and voluntarily, challenged the status quo by putting themselves at the mercy of the unknown and, therefore, drawing to themselves new challenges. I have the impression (as I said, impression) that most of the population requires that these challenges are imposed externally, something ‘life’ already does very well.

Safety, today understood as financial, physical and emotional stabilities, is only possible through Work/Labour or Effort (even if this effort is to manage your passive income :)). Labour defines us as individuals because is the primary source of constant challenges; it actually gives us frequent challenges and and constant recognitions (goals / salary), in a process aiming for the "big prize" — that most people have not yet defined, or naively, consider it a "retirement.”.

The relationship between effort and reward can, for some, resemble the ‘Flow Theory’, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a topic studied in gamification.

If so, the job is a constant and endless effort to achieve the balance between boredom and anxiety. But, if the plan is to disassociate the reward (financial, physical and emotional stability) of the Labour (working in an office, 8am-5pm, etc), we will achieve the necessary freedom to choose which challenges to face.

To those able to challenge the status quo based on an internal motivation, the independence between Work and Reward is their main goal. For those who require constant external stimuli to move on, life is an everlasting Work.

The difference lies in who will choose the problems we have to solve.

JC Rodrigues has a degree in Advertising and Marketing (ESPM), a Graduate Specialization Gamification (PUC), a post-grad in e-Business (UFRJ) and a MBA in Digital Marketing Management (ESPM). Former professor at ESPM University and Miami Ad School. Has started his career in 1996, working for companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Ford, Euro, JWT, among others; besides being the Director of Disney Interactive operation at The Walt Disney Company for over 7 years. Is an expert on digital marketing and interactive communication; and author of the book “Playing god — Creating Virtual Worlds and Digital Immersive Experiences”.