If life is a game, would you have a high score?

WHEN you're tiny, uttering a word or taking a step is enough.

As you grow up, maybe helping your team to victory, landing that kickflip or kissing that girl becomes your triumph.

Older still and there are high school marks, teenage romance and university applications.

But what defines success for us as adult men? And does a criteria do us any good?

There is a computer game from 1990 called Jones in the Fast Lane, its title a play on "Keeping up with the Joneses".

Well, would you?
Well, would you?

In the game, four players fight to win at life.

You are graded on four areas:

  1. Wealth
  2. Happiness
  3. Education
  4. Career

You begin at either the local supermarket or  "Monolith Burger" with no experience, education or immediate prospects.

You race against friends and against the computer's character Jones.

The goal of the game is to not just "keep up with Jones" but to outdo him.

How do you beat someone at life?

In the game, you work hard, relax occasionally, save money and pay your rent.

Toil too much and your happiness suffers. Relax too much and expect to be sacked.

Now your education score is stagnating while Player 2 earns their engineering degree.

Would life be better if it was measured? Jones grades you on wealth, happiness, education and career
Would life be better if it was measured? Jones grades you on wealth, happiness, education and career

Should we be thinking about manhood or adulthood more generally as a list of check-boxes needing a tick-off?

When my wife and I bought a house last month, a friend said, "God you're racking up runs on the functioning adult scoresheet".

I wondered: Did I just finish another stage of the rat race?

Maybe Jones has it right. Work hard, study hard, relax a bit and save your money. Life is a game. Play to win.

This idea is not new: there is a growing movement that attempts to turn the world into a game or "gamify" it.

There are iPhone apps to reward or punish you with points depending on whether you keep up your good habits. A happy noise for keeping your calories down or beating your personal best on the treadmill.

My friend Phil is devoted to the concept. He tells me everything would be better as a game.

If life is the sum of our experiences, I think gaming ourselves into those experiences expands our life and horizons.

"Everything we do is to get a leg up, have time, have money, have love.

"If someone made a game where the reward was love, I don't doubt people would be all over it.

An app to 'gamify' your life: HabitRPG
An app to 'gamify' your life: HabitRPG

Every mundane thing in life could potentially be gamified.

Maybe you move up a level once you lift something particularly heavy at the gym, or finish a project at work.

This exists in the corporate world already.

What's a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) if not a mission to be accomplished.

If we think bigger, could marriage, success and our lives be gamified?

How do you compare one marriage with another?

How do you compare the life of the man with the brand new BMW but working a job that he hates with the modest man who lives a life of both joy and poverty.

Like Jones, do we need to distill everything in life down to a single score. Everything is measured to give a final life score. From there we can plot ourselves against everyone else and enter our names beside our (hopefully high) score.

If every life had a score, how do you think you would rank?

And if this is some universal game where -- like Mario -- we have no idea how we're going until we lose all our lives, would you want to know the score?


Would you even make it on the high score board? And if not, would you want to know?
Would you even make it on the high score board? And if not, would you want to know?


This column appears courtesy of The Hairy Chest. Follow us on Facebook

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