If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know by now that I love video games. I play games to challenge myself, to decrease stress, to socialize, to get out of my own head, and sometimes just to relax. Video games offer a sense of accomplishment that I don’t often find in other activities and I love the feeling I get when I complete a game after finishing all the side missions and collecting all the end-game gear and weapons. When World of Warcraft instituted the achievement system, I lost myself for months, just digging into all the extra feats I could accomplish just to see that “Completed Achievement” banner flash across my screen. It was addicting.
I’m sure almost everyone knows the value of playing video games for fun. But what about using video games as tools in our every day life? Sure, some games are intentionally geared towards education and training. I still remember the game “Mario Teaches Typing” which was supposed to help me learn to type without looking at the keyboard (spoiler alert: it didn’t) and I know flight simulators are used to help train pilots and astronauts, and of course there are games for children to help them learn reading and writing and other skills, but what if video games could motivate you to complete the tasks you have to do every day? When I first realized my video game addiction was overtaking my life, my first solution was to restrict my hours of play time and to only allow myself to play after I finished all necessary tasks first, like chores, errands, and homework. While this worked for a while, it wasn’t a perfect solution, because whenever a new game came out (or new content was released for an online game) I would ignore the rules I set for myself and lose myself for a day or two (or longer) until I could pull away and make myself focus again.
But then I learned how to make my video game addiction work for me.
It started with the Nintendo fitness game called “Wii Fit.” The game actually had a pedometer as an accessory, which had in-game functions that were affected by the number of steps I took that day. There were also tons of exercises disguised as games, as well as workout routines led by an AI instructor. The game utilized controllers and a scale called the balance board to track movement and whether exercises were completed accurately or not. For me, the best part was that the game celebrated the workout streaks, so if you played every day for a week, the game would rain down confetti, the in-game avatar would dance, and it gave me a happy feeling of accomplishment. I was working out, but I was also having fun, so it worked for me and became part of my routine. I still routinely play exercise and rhythm games, both for the cardio as well as that feeling of accomplishment. If anyone knows about a game that combines the RPG elements from Nintendo’s RingFit game with the rhythm boxing/martial arts routines from Knockout Home Fitness, please tell me about it in the comments!
So that’s great for exercise, but I’m a writer, and I need to write a minimum count of new words each day in order to meet my publishing deadlines. Is there any way video games can help with that?
As it turns out, yes! About four years ago, I discovered a website called 4TheWords.com and it’s literally a video game where I fight monsters using only my words. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? Basically, it’s a subscription website where players get to travel through a little fantasy world that is overwhelmed with cutesy little monsters, each of which require a different number of words to defeat. The players pick up quests to fight different monsters or collect certain in-game items, and earn rewards like armor (which aids your stats), treasure chests (full of coins and crafting equipment) or wardrobe items (to dress up you avatars!). Since discovering this website, my daily word count isn’t just higher than it’s ever been, I am actively excited to get up and start typing every single morning. It’s like logging on to my favorite game at work! And my sense of accomplishment is two-fold, because not only did I beat a high word-count monster, complete a quest, or earn a new item, but I’m also that much closer to finishing my novel. It’s a video game that motivates me to get to work, to write more words each day, and helps me organize all my outlines, chapters, journals and blog posts. This was the exact tool I needed to help me focus on my career as a writer–I can’t imagine writing without it!
What makes this site even better are the events that coincide with NaNoWriMo months. For anyone unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s an organization that encourages aspiring writers to get the words out of their heads and onto the page by helping writers set goals and record their progress towards achieving them. For more information, check out NaNoWriMo.org. For every Nano event, 4TheWords creates a temporary in-game event that encourages players to write even more than usual with unique quests, exciting rewards, and community goals. While the main content on the site is extensive and would take a great number of words to clear, the special events bring a spark of something new, and the limited amount of time increases productivity in order to complete the event and win all the shiny new rewards. And for me, that’s exactly what I need to keep focused on my current project.
Another fun thing is that I can use the game’s Dust Warrior avatars to create mock-ups of the characters in my books! As someone with zero artistic talent, this function helps me remember how I’ve described my characters without having to stop and search through my document. It’s also just really fun to play with! Below are a few examples of characters created using the Dust Warrior wardrobe function on 4TheWords. Cute, right?
If I have any writers following me who are interested in checking out 4TheWords, feel free to use my referral code STYZT66367 and send me a friend request. I’m always looking for more writing buddies and I love helping new Dust Warriors begin their journey!
Does anyone else have a favorite video game they use as an everyday tool? Tell me all about them in the comments!