About a week ago, I StumbledUpon an interesting blog post on how somebody quit playing World of Warcraft and started working out instead. Sounds boring, right? What made this interesting to me was his motivation and a couple of things he mentioned.
The big motivator for him was he was seeing how people around him were wasting their lives on meaningless stuff. World of Warcraft uses social hooks to create interdependance within a guild between guild members.
For example, if you don’t show up for a raid, your guild gets mad. The raid is late because they have to find someone new, and they’re not used to working with the new person. Because you missed the raid, you don’t get the chance to improve your gear.
In real life, if you miss the bus, you’re late to work, and your boss gets mad, thus sacrificing a real relationship with a real person, and possibly the raise/promotion/new MacBook you’re hoping to get.
Because of this interdependance, people feel like they’re letting people down if they don’t help them in the game. For an in-depth exploration – go read the article.
Anyway, this got me thinking. How can I use this mechanism, (and others such as achievements, etc), to help me achieve my goals and play soccer better.
The three things I’m looking at using are the social interdependance, levels, and achievements.
This one is actually fairly easy for me. I’ve been playing soccer on a team in a league for some time. If I miss a game, my team has to work that much harder to win, (since they’re missing their normal defender). I sacrifice the relationships I have with my team mates, and its harder for them to win. They may have to get a temp to fill in for me, which hurts the team because they don’t know how to play together with him.
So far, I’ve been playing on the team as more of a leisure activity instead of trying to make progress. A few months ago, I really started to practice though, and improved a little. My team mates noticed and mentioned it. Hearing somebody tell you they’ve noticed a difference (with no solicitation), does wonders for your self confidence. It also does wonders for your motivation to keep working and improving, (so that you can continue to get compliments).
In World of Warcraft, everybody starts at Level 1 and works their way to Level 85 (at the time of this writing). Basically, your level reflects how much stuff you’ve killed and how many quests you’ve done.
The way I equate this in my life is being able to do something consistently. For example, being able to run a mile in under 8 minutes. Being able to catch a ball on my right foot and lower it gently to the ground. Doing the same with my left foot. Being able to dribble through 8 staggered cones in a certain amount of time – with only the outsides of my feet.
This is a little harder to figure out because I’ve basically got to come up with stuff that I want to be able to do and then practice it. Watching good players do amazing things helps me better understand what I need to be doing to get to the next ‘level’.
Team Fortress 2, World of Warcraft, and a bunch of other games are starting to do this. Basically, if you do something unusual in the game, you get an Achievement that is shown to other players that you interact with. Its kind of like street cred in the game.
In my mind, this equates to setting performance goals and achieving them. Sounds kind of like the Levels thing eh? Well, they’re related. In the games, there are actually achievements for getting to a certain level. I see these as a little bit different though in that Achievements are things that you can do once you’re able to perform consistently.
For example, if I’m able to run 5 ladders every day and run a mile in under 8 minutes, I should be able to play in the game for a longer period of time between substitutions. If I can dribble through cones fast and hit a goal at the end 5/10 times, I should be able to score more goals.
The goals, assists, game time, etc are achievements in my mind. The number of goals I score in a season is an achievement, for example.
Of these things, the social aspect I think is the most important. The difference between Neverwinter Nights and World of Warcraft is when you beat NWN, you stopped playing it. In World of Warcraft, people are involved that depend on you and you depend on them. You play the same parts of the game over and over again to improve.
For me, soccer is the same way.
So I’m going to work harder to set ‘Levels’ and ‘Achievements’ and work with my team to accomplish those things. I’ll earn the street cred, and my team will learn that they can depend on me more and even trust me to perform at a certain level. This will inspire me to continue as well.