People feel life is meaningless when they don’t have goals, rules, and feedback. (These are the 3 attributes of games, according to Dr Jason Fox, that I describe in-depth in my short ebook Gamify Your Work.)
Playing the game of life, and doing work that supports your lifestyle, is only made meaningful if we have goals to achieve, rules for how to play, and feedback on how we are doing. But how we play the game of life — and the criteria for how we win — will differ from person to person, from player to player. This means we evaluate the goals, rules, and feedback differently.
Your highest priority goal for your game might be financial success, emotional engagement, popularity, or physical comfort. Every player gets to decided which goal is the most valuable. I could rate financial success as the most important, while you could prefer physical comfort. This would lead to us playing the game of life differently — because we have different rules for how to win.
The game of life is something we all play, but how we play it is completely unique. In addition to having different goals, our skills and aptitudes are very different. The place where we start on the game board could be very different from other players, which creates a very different set of challenges in how we play. We can see this in the origin story of one of the world’s most popular board games.
Monopoly was based on ‘The Landlord’s Game,’ which was originally published by Lizzie Magie (an anti-monopolist) in 1906. She created this game to demonstrate the negative consequences of single-tax theory.
Playing this game showed the players, experientially, the hazards of concentrating land in private monopolies. The lesson of this game is that future generations would be unable to participate in the economy, and a new aristocracy would be created.
Parker Brothers purchased the patent to the game in 1935, and tweaked it to make the friendly…