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The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot? lessons learned from gamification with my son

November 6, 2012 • gal

A couple of months ago I was facing two challenges:

  1. My 5 year old son, Yali, refused to finish his meals
  2. I started a gamification project with the iGeneration (the generation after Y) population

I got two lemons, so I decided to mix them and make lemonade. I downloaded Chore Pad app first. Chore pad is a tool made to motivate kids to complete their chores. When a child completes their chores they earn stars which are then redeemable for rewards devised by the parent.

Now, a couple of months later, here are the lessons I learned:

  1.  My son eats = gamification works

    I think this proves that gamification is not just a game – it has a purpose and that is to change behavior and meet a goal

  2. Recognition is more important than reward :

    • Using the Chore Pad app, points were redeemable for a one-time small present.
    • This did not prevent my son from waiting for the next trophy – and asking to add challenges
    • My “high-five” after a “good day” was equally important, not the reward
  3. Flow theory works.

    The theory states that challenges should be simple and small, so people won’t get discouraged. After that the difficulty of the challenges can increase gradually. The rewards should be commensurate with the increase in challenges. Today, my son can achieve 50 Experience Points a day, while at the beginning he could earn 10 Experience Points a day.

  4. Use a debriefing method

    • Each evening, we talk and summarize the day and game. Then we improve.
    • For example, we found out that when my wife takes him to shower, he doesn’t shower by himself. So to improve his ability to bathe himself we set goals to promote his going there on his own initiative.
  5. Celebrate success

    • Use baby steps to progress
    • Celebrate daily; weekly and after reaching a certain goal
    • Allocate the current rewards to the gamification (small presents you would have used regardless)
  6. Near real time updates are crucial – we use them daily

Gal Rimon,

A father, Gamer and Founder of Gameffective




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