Roll the Dice


I wrote in my last post of two examples, one fictional and one non-fictional that showed the power of creating a compelling alternate world and epic story in gamifying your life.

In the skies above Webland, I heard the voices in the real world shout, “But, you can’t gamify life.”

“We cannot be the designers of our own game of life because life does not obey the arc of a hero’s story-line. We don’t necessarily fight the dragon and win. Our worlds do not provide us with the sudden help of a supporting character or the helpful stumble across just the sword/key/drink me bottle we need at a critical moment to solve the problem in front of us.”


Meet the Dice Man. Luke is a psychiatrist living comfortably with his wife and two children in Manhattan. Bored and dissatisfied, he changes his life forever when he starts to make all his decisions based on the simple roll of the die.


Meet the Yes Man. Danny, dumped by his girlfriend and living a reclusive life is sttuck in a rut until he takes the advice of a stranger on a bus to “say, yes more”. He swears to saying yes to every favour, request, suggestion and invitation over the course of a month.

Both are books are about taking chances. In designing yourself a gamified life we all need a little unpredictability. The next direction to go or the solution to a problem won’t be there right in front of you with a big glowing arrow pointing to it.

Sometimes the roll of a dice might be the kick you need to let the true randomness of life in a bit. Or consenting to living without the default choices we all make that take us down the same old habits. In gamification design both are just mechanics. Use bingo balls, flip a coin or observe which way the pigeons fly, whichever you prefer.

What matters is creating the feeling of surprise and suspense that comes with unpredictability, and to ensure you include a dash of risk so you have something to gain and also something to lose on any ‘turn’.

There is a lovely interview in GQ magazine in March 2012, where the two men get together and at one point say this:

“But it’s making chances happen, isn’t it?” I say. “Isn’t that the key? That you only do things if you do things?”

“Right. I often tell people – just writing down options… you don’t even have to cast the die. If you create six options, five of which are things you don’t normally do, then you’re already opening up as a person. All of a sudden, you think, ‘Wait a minute… these are things I’ve often thought about doing but never do… and I can do them. I can actually do them, if I want.'”

When the Yes Man met the Dice Man

From two masters, who see the potential for play at every turn in life. I think its some advice worth taking.

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