Gamification (yes, I went there) and using game mechanics for social good is certainly a vocal (if controversial) trend in both the cross-media and traditional gaming communities, and while such active groups like Games for Change and the Gameful network look to bringing forth social change through game creation on a global and group scale, few of these initiatives have looked to the holistic well-being of individuals as the locus of change and betterment. Then there’s the complete opposite focus of several systems that use online game mechanics rendered to create offline actions: “gamey” to-do lists aimed only at individuals, such as the D&D-inspired iOS app Epic Win, or extemely discrete, invitation-only networks, such as Chore Wars.
That’s where the Mindbloom Life Game comes in, a freemium “life game” that significantly modernizes and amps up the cardboard collage “motivation board” I created for myself in a very rare moment of creative craftiness. Launched September 27, Mindbloom is a browser-based “lifehack” where users grow a virtual tree by setting up and completing motivational Actions and sharing bits of Inspiration in seven general life areas, such as Creativity, Career, Lifestyle, and more.
Like gamified to-do lists, Actions are tasks that upon completion give Rain points, while the Inspiration mechanics involve adding motivational images, quotes, and other media into personal motivational messages. Adding Inspirational media to your virtual “motivation board” garners Sunshine points, and, like Rain points, feed your virtual tree, which essentially becomes a “brag book,” along with profile badges, all of which can be shared with the usual complement of social mediums.
Interestingly, Actions and Inspirations are both created by the developers and user-generated, and the social network encourages a kind of focused collaboration among members in multiple ways. The mechanics encourage, not just the personal amassing of points and achievements, but the sharing of opportunities for personal growth and wellness to others. Ultimately, personal growth doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor, nor selfish.
With a unique pedigree, the Mindbloom Life Game is the product of a compelling combination of gaming and psychology, science and art, developed by Chris Hewett, a former executive producer for Monolith Productions (No One Lives Forever, Tron 2.0, and F.E.A.R.), and Brent Poole, an early member of the Amazon team. Mindbloom Life Game is free on all browsers in additional to browser-friendly for Android and iPhone devices. As part of the freemium model, users can purchase a lifetime VIP membership called a GrowPro package for $34 until November 1 (reg. $89), which unlocks extra features and content but is not a required to play.
Sure, there are areas where Mindbloom could be improved, including some kind of calendar integration or a reminder system for Actions. And while it is possible for individual users to group friends (much like Google+) to manage sharing and organizations like some Aetna insurance carriers and universities are implementing Mindbloom, it’s the open social networking and social sharing aspects of Mindbloom that has the most potential to bring together the collective action of a full user community, maybe even for broader social good that goes beyond personal growth.