Over the past several years, I've been thinking a lot about the ways that game mechanics can be applied to day-to-day life-- giving the kinds of rewards that successful game environments offer, but for the "grind" of real life rather than virtual activity.
This week, I started listening to the book The Spark, by the guy who created the website sparkpeople.com, and I'm really impressed with how he designed his site to do exactly that. I'm also delighted to see how successful that implementation has been. (Generally I'm not a big fan of "change your life!" self-help books, but I found this one pretty engaging.)
If you haven't seen the site, it's worth taking a look at. It's based around a goal-setting and activity tracking model, but adds in the kind of point accumulation and leveling that can make games so addictive. It's also very focused on the social and community aspects of this process, another hallmark of good game environments.
In playing with it a bit today, I thought I'd try to accumulate points by clicking on emails I'd been sent since i first signed up a few weeks ago, and by reading some articles (which also generates points)--in Bartle's player categories, I'm a pretty typical "achiever." In the process, however, I actually ended up reading some excellent articles on "ideal" body weights (and body types), as well as watching an excellent video on how to peel, seed, and chop a tomato.
All in all, I'm very impressed--the site is useful to me both professionally (as an example of successful application of game mechanics to real-world activities), and personally (since I'm in the process of trying to lose weight and be healthier).