You: The Game! Using Gamification to Upgrade your Life (part 1)

Anyone who’s known me for more than 10 minutes probably won’t be shocked to hear how much I love games. Video, Chess, Role-playing, Tower Defense, Strategy, Puzzles, Riddles. Whatever the genre, chances are I’ve played it and got pretty good at it at one time or another. Every game has a new experience to explore, a new level of your mind to unlock and use to solve a problem. I play games as much for entertainment as I do to learn to think better; to become smarter, more able to handle challenging situations in my life. Games have always been a path to my own self-improvement, even if mom just thought I was stomping turtles with a red-coverall plumber in some weird-ass mushroom place.

Back in September 2015 I wrote the article, Why turning life into a game is a good thing, and in it I cover some specific reasons why “gamification” (turning non-games into games using game elements like points) is good for living a fuller life. Back then we covered some of the core reasons why people started playing games thousands of years ago and why we continue to do so today:

  • Games are fun!
  • Games motivate us towards some goal, which may be competitive or personal.
  • Games provide guidance on how to progress and be better.
  • Games provide a starting point and a progression to higher levels of accomplishment.
  • Games help you become invested in the story, action, etc. by providing rewards.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to expand on this idea to help you gamify your fitness and life, using my favorite game genre of all time: role-playing games!


Section 1: The Rules

Every great game has rules, and that includes You: The Game! (YtG) As a player you have to follow these rules in order to earn points and level up. Sounds easy so far, right? The good news is, there aren’t actually that many rules to follow!

  1. You are the Player. No one else can play for you.
  2. Be honest with your Quests and accomplishments.
  3. Strive for what you want, not what someone else wants.
  4. Have fun.

Simple, right? Good!

The rules of YtG are the same basic ones you should be following (or have to follow) in life: only you can be you, be honest with who you are, set goals that matter to you, and enjoy yourself.

Section 2: Creating Your Character

At baseline, you are your character but in YtG we create a new version of you to help you strive towards being better. This game version is called your Avatar and it represents your passions, goals, skills, abilities, and accomplishments on paper. Being the nerd that I am, I’m inclined towards statistics, numbers, and measurements, even when it comes to myself. Not everyone is like that, though, so YtG has two modes:

  • Easy Mode: basic stats that help you track your progress over time simply.
  • Hard Mode: detailed stats that help you track your progress in a more granular fashion.

If you don’t like tracking too many numbers and statistics and boring crap like that, then go with the Easy Mode just below.

If you like tracking numbers and statistics and awesome stuff like that, then go with Hard Mode (presented next week).

In either case, you need to write down the following for your character (which conveniently are all based on you, anyway):

  • Name: this can be the real thing or something fun, like “Tim the Enchanter”
  • Gender: male or female
  • Age: how many times have you survived riding this green/blue ball of dirt around the sun?
  • Weight: how much you weigh right now (probably in pounds)
  • Height: how tall you are right now (probably in feet/inches)
  • Record Date: the date you wrote all this down

Now that we’ve got the basics, lets expand based on what mode you’re playing. Remember, you can always switch modes if you feel like it; your progress will auto-save (if you don’t get the joke, don’t worry about it. Mom says I’m funny.)

In each mode we’re going to use some numbers to figure out how Strong, Fast, and Healthy you are, so we have something concrete to improve. Easy mode uses fewer numbers while Hard mode uses a couple more. This will cover the basic physical traits you have.

Easy mode doesn’t have measurements for mental traits like intelligence, since those require some time-consuming quizzes and stuff to figure out. Hard mode has stats for Smarts and Cunning with directions on how to figure out what those are.

Every stat goes from 1 (essentially a potato) to 20 (best in the world). Overall, pretty simple. Remember, today we’re only covering the Easy Mode option.

Easy Mode

In Easy mode we’re going to use a couple benchmark numbers to figure out our stats. You’ll write these down underneath the basics we already wrote down (name, etc.).


You need to know your One-Rep Max for Deadlift and your body weight. Divide your Deadlift by your weight (either both in pounds or both in kilograms works) and compare it to the chart to get your Strength.

Strength Chart

These numbers are based on the record averages as reported by Michael Soong and provided on Here is a link to the records page.


You need to know how fast you can sprint 100 meters. Compare your time in seconds to the following chart to determine your Speed score.

Speed Chart

These numbers come from the fastest man and woman to have ever been recorded running the 100 meter sprint at the Olympic level. The 9.58 second men’s time was set by Usain Bolt of Jamaica at the 2009 World Athletics Championships final on August 16, 2009. The 10.49 second women’s time was set by American Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. At an average of 10 meters per second in each case, these two are running at the rough equivalent of 22 miles per hour!


You need to know your BMI (Body Mass Index) based on height & weight. You can get this from the NIH website at NIH BMI Calculator.

I’m not the biggest fan of BMI because it’s based entirely on statistics and doesn’t take body type, shape, or composition into account. As a general measure of fitness, though, it works for what we need. Find your BMI and then use the chart below to find your Health score.

Health Chart


Easy Mode Character Sheet

Boom! Now you know your basic stats and such, so you can fill out your character sheet. Here’s mine!Chris Character Sheet (Easy)

Pretty simple and sets me up to the play You: The Game! in Easy Mode!

Next week we’ll cover Hard Mode creation and how to level up!