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.

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