Monday, September 17, 2012

Chore Wars: A New Hope

Screenshot of my Character Sheet
Last week, I wrote about taking a course on Gamification via This week, I thought I'd share a little bit about Chore Wars. Chore Wars is a sight that uses elements of gamification to encourage people to do household chores. On this site, you create a character, which you use to complete Adventures. To set up adventures, you start a party. Once you start a party, you can invite other people to join--our party consists of myself, my husband, and our 3 boys. When setting up adventures, you can assign an exp value to it, attributes it uses (which effect what class you become when you level up), treasure (including a range for gold pieces and a % chance for an item), a % chance of facing a monster, and whether you want to set the adventure as active (repeatable), retired (unavailable) or quest (retired after completion). 

We first tried using Chore Wars a year and a half ago, and it worked for a couple of weeks. After a while we lost interest in fighting the digital monsters and receiving the digital rewards. It has been working much better this time around. We started using Chore Wars again a couple of months ago. This time, we let our kids go pick out a toy--in our case each of our boys picked out a smaller LEGO set--which they could earn at a 1 gold to 1 cent ratio (so a $5.00 toy would take 500 gold). Having the tangible reward on the shelf for them to work toward really helped. Being told that a reward was at the end was not enough for my kids--out of sight, out of mind, I guess. This has been great though. We have moved into a larger house to accommodate our growing family and I have a baby (3 mo. old now) to take care of. There's no way I could keep this place clean on my own, and right now this house looks better than our home has ever looked (excluding before we moved in =P). Also, to go with the reward they earn with gold, since you can have "treasure" rewards to go with the possible monsters to fight, we've added a list of tangible rewards that they will periodically earn that range from a glass of chocolate milk to extra time on the computer or playing their Nintendo DS's.

We've broken the chores up into smaller manageable tasks that take from 5-15 minutes for the most part. We've added some things that aren't chores, like exercise for 30 minutes, but are things we want to encourage our kids to do, or for ourselves since my husband and I participate as well. We've actually used Chore Wars to help reduce our consumption of soda and other things like that--stuff that's not really good for us plus they were getting really expensive at the rate we were consuming them. Now, we have a chance of earning a soda (or chocolate milk--my morning beverage of preference; I never could get used to the taste of coffee) when completing day-to-day chores and work activities. It's healthier, helps with our family budget, and lets us cut down on things we enjoy without having to cut them out entirely.

Having tangible rewards like that has also added an element of competition to it since I set most of our weekly chores as Quests (the kind that are retired once they are completed), so whoever gets to the chore first gets the gold and the chance of some other reward. Then all I have to do is reactivate the chores as quests at the beginning of the next week. It was the most mind-boggling thing when the biggest problem in our home last week was mediating who got to clean the toilets in the downstairs bathrooms because my two older boys were fighting over it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Great Master Speaks

Giddy Gossip: Hello and welcome to the first in our feature series on the archetypes. What does it mean to embody a stereotype? Why is everyone copying you? What are your favorite pizza toppings? These are the important questions and we are here to answer them. I am Giddy Gossip and here we meet our first subject, the Wise Master. How are you doing today, Mr. Master? 

Wise Master: The air moves but the grass does not sway. 

Giddy Gossip: Great to hear. So I am sure all our readers want to know everything we can about you. Let’s start at the beginning. What exactly is a Wise Master? 

Wise Master: I have been called by many names, and many names I am.

Giddy Gossip: Nice. Nice. So what does it mean to be wise? 

Wise Master: A goldfish swims many miles but gets nowhere. 

Giddy Gossip: What exactly are you a master of? How long did it take? And what do you like on your pizza? 

Wise Master: I speak the songs of the sky whose beginning has no end. And I like pineapple. 

Giddy Gossip: So you sing? What kind of songs do you know?

Wise Master: A sheep on the road knows no fear.

Giddy Gossip: Never heard of it. Sounds like a country song. Now that we know each other, tell me. Who was the worst student you ever taught?

Wise Master: I knew a man who couldn’t speak and a woman who couldn’t hear.

Giddy Gossip: Sounds like a juicy romance novel. Tell me more.

Wise Master: They walked together but alone. A tragedy of comedies.

Giddy Gossip: Not sure I follow you but let’s run with it. So why do you dress like a homeless beggar?

Wise Master: The butterfly is naked.

Giddy Gossip: I’m not asking about the butterfly. I want to know about you. Spill the beans. Were you robbed? Are you on drugs? Could you show us some martial arts?

Wise Master: Boot to the head.

Giddy Gossip: And there you have it. The Wise Master. A walking fortune cookie. Tune in next time as I interview another one of these freaky people. This is Giddy Gossip signing out and falling down.

We (well mostly I) thought that it would be nice to spice things up a bit around here by getting a few more "guest" posts from my husband. This is a guest post in that I pretty much write everything around here, but it's not because this is also a blog that belongs to Gothic Panda Studios which is both me and my husband. It strikes me as a little odd that I do most of the writing on our blog, on the website, Etsy descriptions, and so on when he is the writer for our team. Well, I plan on fixing that. So, if you've enjoyed the text descriptions for our badges, then I'm sure you'll get a kick out of his contributions to this blog. -Panda  

The Wise Master is one of our Character Archetype badges. You can view all of our Archetypes on Etsy or on our Website.

Monday, September 3, 2012


About a month ago, I found a link on Twitter for the site I don't even remember who posted it, but they're awesome, whoever they are. XD Coursera is a place where you can take classes for free. The classes are on tons of different topics and taught by professors from top recognized universities. It almost seems too good to be true, right? You can't get college credit for any of the courses, but for me it's a great way to expand my horizons. I don't have the time or money to go back to school for anything, but this is something I can do.

I signed up for a course called Gamification taught by Dr. Kevin Werbach at Penn State University that started last Monday. Once the class started, I got access to a two units of video lectures broken up into 5-15 minute segments. I especially like that aspect of the way Coursera does things. I can find small bits of time to watch one of the video parts much more easily than I could an hour or so to watch the entire lecture. I also have access to discussion forums specific to this class. I will get some homework assignments. For those of us who do all the homework and have a grade score of 70% or above will get a certificate of completion for the course once it's finished.

So far, I'm incredibly pleased with how this is going. I've finished the videos and homework for this week. Tomorrow, I'm going to sit down and go through the suggested reading articles and read those. Gamification is a fascinating topic. It's about applying game elements to non-game things, like business, education, or personal fitness. I'll admit that I was attracted to this topic because I'm a bit of a game geek. The subjects we're tackling in this class are close to what my husband studied while working on his PhD. It has been interesting because Dr. Werbach is approaching these topics from a different perspective. This first week has mostly been an introduction to the topic, but I look forward to seeing where it's going to go.

This class apparently has more than 63,000 people registered for the class from all over the world. Based on a class survey (of which only 40% of the students responded too), there's nearly 150 countries represented. The  class has a hashtag for Twitter for students to discuss class topics, but I admit it's been almost impossible for me to follow because of the sheer volume of people participating. The class supposedly has a Facebook page and presences on other social networking sites, but I haven't tried touching those yet. I have a feeling if I tried digging into those, it would end up becoming a huge time sink for me; that's definitely something I don't need--I've got enough of those without getting any more help. =P

I've been really psyched about this class. I'm already looking at picking up a couple of other classes to start next month. I'm thinking maybe the one on Greek and Roman Mythology (I spent a lot of time studying that once upon a time, but it's been more than a decade now) or maybe one of the programming classes. If anyone reading this feels like joining me me, drop me a line. I think it'd be fun to have someone to chat with about this on Twitter or whatnot.