The Games I Play

I’ve never thought of myself as a gamer. Sitting in a dark room with a headset yelling at a screen (or my friends) just isn’t my jam. Oddly, watching other people play video games has interested me in the past, but I think that might mostly be about people watching. However, recently I’ve found myself spending a lot of time attending to two video games: Habitica and Ingress.

Have I become a stereotypical pasty gamer, living on Mountain Dew and Cheetos? Not by a long shot, both of these games help me meet my life goals which have basically nothing to do with sitting on a couch.

Habitica is an RPG that gives players points for completing tasks that they set up for themselves. With those points, in the form of gold, players can reward themselves with outfits and weapons for your character. Additionally your points can help you defeat monsters in cooperation with a party in the game. The game also gives you eggs and potions that you can put together to make pets, and food that you can feed them so that you can grow them into mounts which your character can ride. Visually, this game is not much to look at. The pictures are pixelated and all the fighting is left up to your imagination. What is exciting about Habitica for me is that I’m really bad at rewarding myself. All the rewards I can think of that I would give myself generally take money, time, or energy, things which I generally want to be spending on working toward meeting goals, completing projects, and forming better habits. Rewards in Habitica come to me automatically when I check things off my list and that doesn’t take me more than a few minutes a day. The game is also free, so getting rewarded doesn’t cost me a thing. (Although I do donate $5 a month because I love what they do.)

Ingress also helps me meet one of my major goals, which is to get more exercise. Game play in Ingress is based on using your cell phone as a scanner to view an alternate reality in which locations with cultural significance are portals that two teams are vying for control over. In order to take control of a portal you have to be at its physical location. While this can be achieved from a vehicle, the game is best played on foot. It helps that one of the medals you can get as an extra incentive is for walking. Officially I’ve been playing ingress since 2012, but in reality I took a bit of a break and just started playing again two months ago. In that time period I have walked 103 km while playing and I just earned my silver “Trekker” badge yesterday. By the time I get my Onyx badge, and I will because rewards motivate me, I will have walked a total of 2500 km while playing. By playing Ingress I have seen new parts of my city as well as parts of places I visited that I might never have seen.

It is clear to me that the developers of these games have hit upon some new formulas for gaming that appeal beyond the regular scope of who is considered a gamer and I’m super glad they did.

*BTW if anyone is interested in playing Ingress, let me send you an invite and encourage you to join the Resistance (blue). I’m not out to recruit you with this post, but I do get points if I do. 😀

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