Real-Life Achievements
Friday, January 02 2009

A few months ago, I purchased Wii Fit, partially to see what all the buzz was about, and partially to see if I might actually play it somewhat regularly. I do enjoy it, though this academic year has left me with less time to play than I might like.

When I got it, however, I had to explain to my parents (when I mentioned it) why I would think a video game for exercise might be more interesting than simply exercise. The only reason I could come up with? “It has points. If real life had points, it’d be much more interesting.”

This train of thought isn’t that original, but I like it. What if we had a system of “achievements,” with attendant points, for activities in real life? A quick google search for Real-Life Achievement Points reveals a few amusing ideas– both with lists of possibilities and example videos (the latter is particularly funny).

Part of the attraction to achievements, though, is the display to annoy your friends with how accomplished you are. This is just human nature; we like to show off all our neat accomplishments, whether that’s displaying diplomas on the wall, or military campaign ribbons. Achievements as currently implemented in videogames allow this; one can see my Team Fortress 2 Achievements, for instance, or my XBox Live Achievements (though the latter requires an XBox Live account to view– a violation of principles of the Open Web, not that Microsoft has ever cared). On the Internet, geeks do things like display “badges,” those little 80x15 ribbon-looking icons to represent something they use, or that powers their website; I have them (look to the right on or, as do many other nerdy websites. ActionStreams allows the same thing; and both display their lists of websites their owners use. So if we wanted to have “real life” have achievements, then we’d want the same display capabilities; I want to put a cool icon display on my website, dang it. :-)

What needs to be in place for something like this?

All these problems noted, however, it’d still be cool. Once we have these set up– even provisionally– it’d be neat to be working on some task, and have a popup in the corner of my vision, noting I just got five points. As I said before, points can provide some motivation– and bragging rights.

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