Why Game Design Is Essential For Everyone

Photo by Nikhil Mitra on Unsplash

I often say that you don’t have to learn game and gamification design in detail if you don’t want to.

I also claim that you can start turning your life into games immediately (I even urge you to do so), at least consciously, since unconsciously, you have probably already done so on various occasions.

But to turn your life into games you do need to get interested in actual games — and gamified systems — and how they function.

Be a scientist. This time studying games that come your way and draw your attention. In other words, allow yourself to be an eager game designer, curious about what others do, and how this knowledge can contribute to the design of your self-motivational games.

Here are two of the best things about being the designer of your self-motivational games:

  • The software and hardware are always available. You can find them on your shoulders. And the designer is you.

Let me emphasize again:

The design part is essential.

There is no right or wrong, good or bad design here. But it is critical that you do the designing part. Take responsibility for how fun and engaging your games are for yourself as the player.

Don’t judge the player, but create the best games for your player, yourself.

Here is the difference between Self-Gamification systems designed by you and gamification frameworks developed by others. In Self-Gamification, you have to create your games. You can play other people’s games and combine them with yours, but it is your choice how you mix those games with your own.

Only you can design your life.

I believe and hope you wouldn’t want it any other way.

By the way, if you are a manager open to gamification and decide, among other things, to gamify the processes at work, then you will design games to motivate your colleagues and co-workers to help them carry out various tasks. But to help others gamify their lives, you need to develop the games for yourself first.

This interest in game design and how others do it can come naturally and without effort. All we need to do is stop suppressing our built-in curiosity. We all tried to “bend” the rules in our favorite games when we were children, and even later. We had that question looming over our heads, “What if we played it another way?”

Sometimes our changes made the games more fun, other times less so.

So, we are natural game-designers and testers. We just might not be aware of it, or we have forgotten.

Right after deciding to write the book 5 Minute Perseverance Game: Play Daily for a Month and Become the Ultimate Procrastination Breaker, I started reading various books on game design. Books on kaizen and gamification later joined these books.

The first book I read on game design was The Game Inventor’s Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-playing Games & Everything in Between!, by Brian Tinsman. In it, I saw the following passage about Richard Garfield, the inventor of the game Magic: The Gathering:

“For years, Richard had been playing around with ideas for a game that was ‘bigger than what came in the box.’ Drawing inspiration from a classic science-fiction strategy game called Cosmic Encounter, he envisioned a game that set up rules, then let every card in the game break them in different ways. Further, no player would really know all the powers every card might have — players would constantly be surprised. Only a genius could bridge the gap between imagining such a game and actually designing it. ‘I had no idea if such a game could be designed.’ Richard recalls, ‘But I decided to give it a shot.’” — Brian Tinsman, The Game Inventor’s Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-playing Games & Everything in Between!

“Wow,” I thought, “Isn’t that what a successful manager, a great boss, a brilliant entrepreneur, or an amazing project manager is? A genius who can bridge the gap between having an idea for a product, service, or business, and actually doing it? Even when they aren’t sure the idea (either their own or someone else’s) will work, giving it a go nonetheless. And aren’t our daily lives (at work and at home) full of games with certain rules, along with many surprises that break almost all of them?”

After I realized that, I sat there for a few seconds, open-mouthed. I was in a public place when I had this epiphany, so I hurried to close my mouth and appear nonchalant as soon as I observed what I was doing.

A bit later I understood that the more I considered my work as a strategic game, the more creative and the more engaged I became in the task, and the more interested I became in its success. Truly invested, without the drama of pretended seriousness but with utter concentration and attention for the task at hand.

I discovered a (seemingly) new paradox for myself. The more I considered my work as a game and made sure I had fun while attending to my duties, the more diligent and efficient I became. Being excellent became easy.

Here are the reasons I believe everyone should learn how to design their projects and activities as games:

  • In the words of Brian Tinsman (from a section title in his book on game design, where he addressed one of the reasons someone would want to develop a game): “It’s Fun.

I am sure, with time, you will be able to extend the list above. Or maybe you can do it already. If so, then let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

A note to this article: It is a modified excerpt from Self-Gamification Happiness Formula: How to Turn Your Life into Fun Games.

Thank you for reading! To stay in touch, join my e-mail list, Optimist Writer.

About the author:

Victoria is a writer, instructor, and consultant with a background in semiconductor physics, electronic engineering (with a Ph.D.), information technology, and business development. While being a non-gamer, Victoria came up with the term Self-Gamification, a gameful and playful self-help approach bringing anthropology, kaizen, and gamification-based methods together to increase the quality of life. She approaches all areas of her life this way. Due to the fun she has, while turning everything in her life into games, she intends never to stop designing and playing them.

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Victoria Ichizli-Bartels, Ph.D.

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Top writer, author, coach, engineer; originator of Self-Gamification. New → 5 Minute Perseverance Game, 2nd Edition. https://amzn.to/3w4bvdW

Gameful Life

Living a gameful life means approaching anything we are up to or what comes our way as if it was a fantastic collection of games, of which we are both designers and players. This publication is by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels. For more see and subscribe to optimistwriter.com.

Victoria Ichizli-Bartels, Ph.D.

Written by

Top writer, author, coach, engineer; originator of Self-Gamification. New → 5 Minute Perseverance Game, 2nd Edition. https://amzn.to/3w4bvdW

Gameful Life

Living a gameful life means approaching anything we are up to or what comes our way as if it was a fantastic collection of games, of which we are both designers and players. This publication is by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels. For more see and subscribe to optimistwriter.com.

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