144: Master Chief in Sneakers: Making Life Not Suck

Master Chief in Sneakers: Making Life Not Suck

"I press the center button on my iPod, and the pleasant male voice with a Palo Alto accent tells me I've been running for four minutes and three seconds. The voice reminds me of everything I hate about Californians and their smug, fitter-happier-smarter-than-thou attitude. I imagine he's just some guy they picked up from the Apple office floor. I imagine there are a thousand more just like him. I call him Apple Man, and I despise him. I want to succeed just to spite him. He is the perfect trainer."

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"Life is crap" and "reality is broken" (from the ever awesome Jane McGonigal) are powerful and provocative statements, but I won't disagree. We integrate games into our lives for recreation because we enjoy them, and if the flow we experience can be carried over to interfaces, metaphors, or systems that help us meet our life goals, so much the better. People pay good money for pretty rotten diet and exercise software/machines/crap with unengaging interfaces that end up gathering dust. There's a better way, and Russ Pitts is living it.

"Faster than you probably run."

No. I can do a 6-minute mile, and run 3 in under 20.
I was also a fat kid. Goes to show...

But yeah, good article. It pretty much describes my mental process while running. I don't have an Apple Man, just years of pent-up hatred for humanity.

This was a pretty interesting article. I knew that Nike had a system that would tell you how far you have run, but I didn't know that they had leaderboards. That turns exercise into a strange sort of metagame. As for real life gaming, I read an article in EGM where they discussed trying to do the same with work-related e-mail; you spend "priority points" and level up so that people will be more apt to read your messages. Anyway, I particularly liked the part "I remember this moment, pledge to recall this image when I complain about my knees later on." That made me chuckle.

The concrete was hard on his feet,
a much-hated voice set the beet,
strength put to the test,
Lance's Voice is the best,
One level-up victory complete!

-A poem for Russ.

Russ is at his best with this kind of personal essay. Nothing else fits that melancholy, roughly lyrical voice of his quite so well, and the fact that people like him are willing to take Video Games seriously as an art form, complete with reflections of and on real life, is the most concrete proof imaginable that it's only a matter of time before the rest of the world does too.

I think I went to school with Apple Man. I'm not sure he deserves a punch in the teeth: his parents are just as aggravating and he's never been far enough outside his Cuccoon of rich white So-Cal snobbery to know any better. Poor Guy never had a chance to be decent, he's just too scared of the world.

Awesome essay, i have recently starteg jogging myself and would like to look into this myself. But it does seem rather expensive.

The statements made by Russ Pitts and Jane McGonigal, that reality is in need of enhancement or correction, is well-founded. I could not agree more. However, I disagree with the proposed means by which this is to be achieved. You are the lead designer on the game Your Life. Now take some responsibility. Our competitive natures and our reliance/addiction on electronics and entertainment are two of the real problems that need correcting.

Why do we let complete strangers define our goals and achievements? Are you not more knowledgeable of your life and what is good for you? Define your own life, goals, achievements, rewards and create your own games. I often listen to music while jogging, just to drown out the outside world. I use electronics and entertainment, but I do not let them use me. The moment I let consumerism dictate my life, is the moment I cease to be an individual human and become a cog in a machine.

Hmm the concept of actual levels makes this appeal to me much more than it previously did. Unfortunately I went for Asics trainers again a couple of months ago, so maybe next year.

Finnish(ed):
The statements made by Russ Pitts and Jane McGonigal, that reality is in need of enhancement or correction, is well-founded. I could not agree more. However, I disagree with the proposed means by which this is to be achieved. You are the lead designer on the game Your Life. Now take some responsibility. Our competitive natures and our reliance/addiction on electronics and entertainment are two of the real problems that need correcting.

Why do we let complete strangers define our goals and achievements? Are you not more knowledgeable of your life and what is good for you? Define your own life, goals, achievements, rewards and create your own games. I often listen to music while jogging, just to drown out the outside world. I use electronics and entertainment, but I do not let them use me. The moment I let consumerism dictate my life, is the moment I cease to be an individual human and become a cog in a machine.

I'd say we let others define our achievements and goals in some instances so that we can have an independent assessor of success. If I achieve my own goals and show that to you, you wouldn't be impressed because you didn't know that it was a competition and my standards might not be as high as yours. However, when you bring in an independent third party, there is someone outside of the competitors who says, "Achieving this is worthy of merit." The draw to outshine others in this respect is too much to resist for some.

Finnish(ed):
You are the lead designer on the game Your Life. Now take some responsibility. Our competitive natures and our reliance/addiction on electronics and entertainment are two of the real problems that need correcting.

Perhaps, but that's not really what I think Russ (and Jane) are getting at.

Russ seems to be saying that the approach he describes works for him, so he is indeed taking responsibility.

Jane's point, if I've caught it correctly, is that it's the *social* systems that need revision, not individual choices necessarily; it's how the communities we belong to for work and life operate at a social level that needs game-like tweaking. A prime example is how some MMO players begrudge highly repetitive office work and look forward to playing highly repetitive crafting or level-grinding... if work could adopt the reward structure that makes MMOs appealing to players like this, then the players' working lives would be much more pleasant and probably more productive for both them and their employers.

It's not that we need consumer electronics to be happy; it's that we should be looking at what video games do to make us happy to see if we can use those techniques to make our communities happier places to be.

-- Steve

Anton P. Nym:
It's not that we need consumer electronics to be happy; it's that we should be looking at what video games do to make us happy to see if we can use those techniques to make our communities happier places to be.

Ramen.

Life is like a game, What are games modeled after? Real life Experiences. GTA is the hood life of video games. Games are starting to reach the stage where they are emulating life better than ever before. The settings may change, but and a FPS is a war with no casualties. MMO's have real cities where people mingle like in real life. The difference is the anonymity, in life we are labeled, given names and numbers like sheep at a farm. In life we have infinite choices, while in games the choices are limited to what the designers can imagine.

Life is just a really shitty game that people still haven't learned how to play, we are still trying to get past the boss or just stopped trying to complete that quest because we have limited our imagination.

Loved it Russ. I took this article and input myself into working out and playing MMO's. I find that the solo grind doesn't do it for me. I can't get as much done as I would like and there is nobody to push me to do better. Soloing gets you stronger and you may level up, but to real become great, you need to group. I find this same thing with me in life. I can go to the gym and work out, but to real gain muscle or get a great workout, I need someone there with me. Someone for me to push and to push me back. To cause pain (good pain) and feel spent. Someone to watch your back.

I feel the same way about running, but I did it for so many years of playing soccer, to never hit the pavement again like that actually makes me happy. To know that I have to start again, makes me sad. Maybe with this Nike + thing it would help me. Maybe that could be my partner that won't let me down and pushes me to the next level. Can't wait to try.

For everyone that thinks life is crap, I have to disagree. Sometimes it sucks, yes, but most times I enjoy life. I don't wrap my mind around things I can't do, like leap over buildings or life bulldozers, I look at what I can do and that makes me happy. I think about what would make me happy, and I try to get there.

So, I don't think life sucks, I just don't bring the un-acquirable into my mind.

Spinwhiz, you are right. Actually life does not suck. People suck, hard. Men suck the hardest.

Little kids and women are getting raped, tortured and murdered every minute of every day for the pleasure of men. Men are mostly responsible for wars fought over greed and fear and hate, where people of every ethnic background, age and sex are mutilated, burned and killed by the millions.

Not to mention all the little cruelties, lies and indifference we inflict upon each other every day.

So yes, life is just awesome.

Great article. I used to hate running for school, doing 10 minute miles all the time (I never did a 30 minute mile. I mean, I can walk faster than that. :P) More recently I've begun to appreciate the feeling of satisfaction I get from running, doing well, and getting better. I recently improved my mile time to 7:15. I've got a 5k (3.1 miles) coming up, and I'm aiming to beat my previous best, 27:40, by at least 2 minutes. :)

Finnish(ed):
Spinwhiz, you are right. Actually life does not suck. People suck, hard. Men suck the hardest.

Little kids and women are getting raped, tortured and murdered every minute of every day for the pleasure of men. Men are mostly responsible for wars fought over greed and fear and hate, where people of every ethnic background, age and sex are mutilated, burned and killed by the millions.

Thanks for taking this good article's good forum thread and spewing sexist bullshit into it. Thanks a lot, it's people like you that really make life not suck.

Russ,
Thanks for the peek into your (running) brain. It was interesting and I'm sure the issue of "making a game out of life" should be explored further, both within The Escapist and without.

Personally, I hate running. I do the minimum I can so as not to feel like a total couch potato (jogging 3 kliks in a half-hour in a gym once a week). That's also using an iPod... only with podcasts, not music.

innocent42:
Thanks for taking this good article's good forum thread and spewing sexist bullshit into it. Thanks a lot, it's people like you that really make life not suck.

Sorry. It was definitely overkill. I don't know what came over me. I've been particularly hateful recently because of the news I've been reading lately. And for the record; I am a man and I have no confusion about my sexual identity or about what causes problems in the world. I just call them like I see them.

Damn it Russ, you corporate shill, you're going to cost me three hundred dollars when I go out and buy the whole kit.

I agree, corporate shill. All the more disappointing since you can feel that he is a good writer. The first page had me, the second seemed to be from another article, the third barely maintained my interest, and by the end the question still had not been answered: Why do I need this fancy little white pedometer?

Er well I don't. If you had a good run, you feel the burn, you know it. Doesn't matter whether today was 12 seconds faster than yesterday. Who cares. Unless you ARE Lance Armstrong, it's all about feeling good after a run, not micromanaging irrelevancies.

gargamello:
it's all about feeling good after a run, not micromanaging irrelevancies.

Eh. I think it's all about what makes it more meaningful to you, personally. Some people need to be in a race to get motivated, some people need other stimuli, and some can get out the door and bust ass just because they know it's the Right Thing to Do. Whatever works for you is what works for you.

Y'all are not wrong about the cost though. It's an investment. I happened to have access to an iPod Nano, which helped. My shoes cost $80 and the Nike+ kit was another $30 or so. Still not cheap, but, to me, worth it. Can I run without all that crap? Absolutely. Would be as much fun? No. It wouldn't. And if I have to throw a little extra money into something good for me to make it more fun, I don't see the harm in that.

Besides, whoever dreamed up this thing was a genius. I like to recognize genius whenever possible. There's so little of it around, and it's far too often unrecognized.

It's funny that gargamello said he agreed with me; I was being ironic. Or whatever you want to call it. I meant to say you've just about sold me on the idea, even though I'd have to buy a Nano.

It makes a lot more sense than a recurring fee for a gym membership I won't use.

Just necroposting this as I saw an interesting video on the "Fun Theory":

(Dunno if the object will post or not, so here's the link to YouTube for the video.)

I think this is the point that Russ was getting at, right?

-- Steve

I'm sorry I couldnt get past

"The voice reminds me of everything I hate about Californians and their smug, fitter-happier-smarter-than-thou attitude"

I'm from California, we are not at all like that, infact, I've never met anyone here like that.
geez while your stereotyping why don't you just say

"The voice reminds me of everything I hate about Niggers and their dumb, aids infected lack of a brain"

 

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