Tools and Skills

Gamify Your Life with These 17 Awesome Tools

Yeah, it's kind of like that.

Win Big

Set reminders on your phone, write lists on the back of your hand, or just try to remember – still there’s no way to get through life without some good old-fashioned drudgery.

Or you could just turn it all into a game. “Gamification” has been used in everything from marketing to slot machines to retain users – all those Swarm badges don’t just for exist for your self-esteem, after all.

But it’s also possible to use those tools to your own advantage, using game design elements like level ups to help power through life’s less appealing chores.

Lifehacker offers up a thorough look at the current theories behind gamification, but for the TL:DR crowd, it has to do with the body’s release of dopamine after experiencing pleasure.

Check out 17 great tools to gamify your life.

Role Play to Productivity
We’ve all been there – a sink full of dirty dishes, piles of unwashed laundry, and a stack of bills just waiting to be paid. Habitica is a free online app that uses a Dungeons and Dragons aesthetic to help its 1.5 million users remember to floss their teeth.


The iOS and Apple Watch 8-bit game Quest combines a Tamagatochi-like character with a quest game, promising to help you slay your tasks. LevelUpLife users similarly accrue XP for their real-life challenges, in categories from arts and creativity to travel.

Trying to get your roommates to do the dishes is often a chore in itself. ChoreWars is a guild-based game that lets players compete with points for doing housework.

When Jogging Becomes (Relatively) Fun
Sometimes escaping zombies is the only motivation you can muster to get off the couch and get moving. At least that’s the idea behind Zombies, Run!, the very popular app that turns your daily run into a matter of life-or-death survival.

Zombies, Run!

If you want to introduce some cash flow into your fitness routine, Pact’s users commit to an exercise or diet goal at the start of each week. If you don’t live up to your goals, you’ll pay out to your fellow users. If you succeed, however, the iOS and Android app promises cash payouts.

And Dacadoo, for iOS and Android, tracks your exercise, eating, and mood to provide users with a personalized Health Score, promising a “real-time indicator of your health and well-being.”

Playing Those Mind Games
The SuperBetter app was created by gamification superstar Jane McGonigal – her TED Talk on better health through gaming has been viewed over 5.7 million times. SuperBetter promises to improve resiliency (another hot topic in the self-help space) and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression when played for 30 days.


The MindBloom suite of apps (now owned by healthcare platform Welltok) offers everything from inspirational messaging to self-improvement through a gaming format.

Tell MoodMission how you’re feeling, and the iOS app will provide five “evidence-based Missions to improve your mood.” Launched in August after a successful crowdfunding campaign, the mood-lifting game is the product of two years’ research from two clinical psychologists.

Save Money, Win Big
Typically it’s not best to play games with your finances, but a slew of apps and web platforms promise better savings, debt repayment, and credit reports if you play along. Smarty Pig, Save Up, and Payoff all offer a suite of gamified tools to turn the dull routine of home economics into something more closely resembling fun.

Read More
If you want to take your gaming (and your life) to the next level, you can go deep – there’s already a rich body of pop literature dedicated to the topic. The recently released Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story explains how author Steve Kamb “actually turned his life into a gigantic video game…”

And aforementioned gamification star Jane McGonigal has also published two books on the topic, Reality Is Broken and SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully.

As with any self-help books promising total enlightenment and untrammeled joy, be advised that results may vary.