Applying Game Theory to Real Life

It’s a concept I’ve thought of before, but it hit me again last week. I was working on a project at my new job that tapped into my CSS skills (something I’ve really never gotten to use much at an actual job before) and I immediately had a thought that put a ‘CSS +1’ notice rising from the top of my head…RPG style.

The idea of formal ‘game theory’ is fairly broad and not really what I am getting at. I’m really looking at the aspects of an RPG (Role Playing Game) style game that cause people to continue playing it and how it relates to real life. In any good RPG, the player controls a single character and completes some kind of tasks, goals, or achievements. Upon completion, the character receives some kind of experience points, which unlock new tasks, goal, and possible achievements. During the whole process, the character usually develops by gaining more points toward various traits like strength, endurance, magic, etc. and a whole slew of side skills.

This character building idea keeps a player enthralled as challenges become more and more difficult, but the character is increasingly capable of more difficult tasks.

This is basically how most people go through their lives and careers, but they just don’t realize it because it’s not naturally quantified. You don’t increase your CSS skill by one when you learn a new trick, you just learn the new trick. And generally, we don’t have good enough vision to see what the next progression of our lives will be until we’re standing at the edge, staring it down.

People have tried to create websites that feed into this idea (like MotivationRPG and Fitocracy specifically for fitness), but I think that real life is ultimately far too complicated to be contained in such a concept. However, I think it is why people get enthralled with things like competing in sports and competitions. You can build up your abilities and then see results in a usually logical fashion.

Sports aside, it can still be a good strategy to use to motivate you in just about any aspect of life. The tricky part is quantifying skills and using a goal setting system as your vision for progression.

Maybe this was an incoherent ramble, but that’s okay, because I leveled up in MySQL today.

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