What Is The Opposite of Play?

Play or not 1 1 What Is The Opposite of Play

Play is a fundamental human need that brings joy, creativity, and learning to our lives. Play can also help us cope with stress, improve our mental health, and enhance our social skills. But what happens when we don’t play enough? What is the opposite of play, and how does it affect us?

Some might think that the opposite of play is work, but that’s not necessarily true. Work can be playful, engaging, and meaningful if it aligns with our values, interests, and strengths. Work can also provide us with a sense of purpose, achievement, and belonging. However, work can also be boring, stressful, and unfulfilling if it doesn’t match our needs, preferences, and goals. Work can also take over our lives and leave us with little time or energy for play. Read More ...

World Mental Health Day

Depression 1539183016 World Mental Health Day

On World Mental Health day, I thought it was important to remind people of one thing. Mental health is not a rude term. It should not have shame or stigma attached to it. If you suffer from any kind of mental health issue, you should not feel you have to hide it.

Over the last few years, I have made no secrets of my issues and struggles with mental health, issues that have plagued me since I was 9 or 10 trying to manage school whilst being seriously dyslexic, getting no support from the school! This, I am sure, is what triggered the start of my problems with depression and anxiety. My Mum also suffered from similar issues, and at least one of my children has similar.

I was not always able to speak about these things. Anything that meant you were different had to be suppressed when I was a kid and the habit followed me into adulthood. It was not until my wife was unable to watch me trying to be “normal” whilst simultaneously self-destructing that I sought help. It was at that point that I realised that there was nothing wrong with admitting I had these issues.

If you think there is a problem, or if others tell you there may be a problem, listen and find help. These days there is a wealth of advice and help available to you, but you have to go and find it – it won’t come to you I’m afraid.

If people around you pressure you to keep quiet about your issues – fuck ’em. Look after yourself!

There is Help

If you think you need help, or if you know someone who you think does, talk about it. There is help out there.

In the UK start here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

In the US try here: https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help.

Please tell me other country starting points in the comments and I will add them.

You are not alone.




My Mental Health and How Gamification Has Helped

Anxiety Spiral Header 2 My Mental Health and How Gamification Has Helped

It is mental health awareness week, so I felt this would be a good opportunity to share with you one nugget of life strategy that gamification helped me learn.

I have made no secret that I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life. These have, at times, crippled me in ways that those without the issues find hard to understand. The truth is that no matter what strategy you may think you have, the first step is always to accept help. Easier said than done, but it is essential. No one should or can go through it alone and come out the other side in one piece.

You can read more about my own journey and battles with mental health on my medium blog here – https://medium.com/deeling-with-depression-and-anxiety

Now, over the years I have had a lot of support from friends and family, with a special shout-out to my amazing wife!

But you also have to have personal strategies to help you day to day, especially with anxiety! Once you are at a point where you can spot the triggers, these strategies can help you mentally avoid them, or work through them. This is where games and my understanding of one aspect of gamification has come in very handy. Problem-solving.

I have written about my approach to problem-solving in the past, but this is a slight addition to my standard method.

Rational vs Irrational

Think of anxiety as an odd conversation in your head. The rational side and the irrational side of your mind in an argument. Anxiety kicks in when the irrational side starts to win the argument, which results in you spiralling towards anxiety. The argument usually involves the irrational side of your mind telling you all the reasons why something is bad.

You could win the lottery and you irrational side would be telling you “This is terrible, you can’t manage that kind of money, it will destroy you. Think of all the people who will try to con you now…” etc.

As the argument continues, you start to get anxious and eventually you cease to be able to function at all. It sucks and it can be very rapid.

Break The Spiral

Once you are able to spot the initial symptoms, you can start to use a problem-solving approach. I present this as a tree-type diagram. In a nutshell, if you can’t affect the problem, move on until you can. If you can affect the problem, break it down (if you can), deal with it and then move on. Small problems can feel massive when you suffer from anxiety, but just talking yourself through some simple steps really can help. You may need to click to enlarge or download the PDF here.

There will be some who read this and say “that’s easy, why all the fuss?” Trust me, this is very, very hard. After admitting there is a problem, the next hardest step is to start to learn how to notice when you are falling into anxiety. Only then can this sort of thing work. I think the modern types refer to this in terms of “Mindfulness”.

There is Help

If you think you need help, or if you know someone who you think does, talk about it. THere is help out there.

In the UK start here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

In the US try here: https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help.

Please tell me other country starting points in the comments and I will add them.

You are not alone.

An a bonus video on spotting the signs of Anxiety that I did a while back!


Say No to FoMO in Gamification?

Fear 1523530393 Say No to FoMO in Gamification

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is FoMO?

FoMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. In our gamification elements, it is often related to Loss Aversion and Curiosity.

If we start with Loss Aversion, used carefully, loss aversion can be a great way to encourage certain positive behaviours. Consider teaching kids how to save, for instance. If they feel they have earned the money, they will (normally) have a stronger desire NOT to lose it! However, physical items are not all that people want to avoid losing. Far more important motivations lie around social interaction, connections, status and more.  If someone is considered to be influential in their circles, they will not want to do anything to lose that status. Kids don’t want to miss out on play dates with their friends or even hugs and validation from their parents. How many times has parent used the term “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed”? It hurts more than “If you do that again, you lose your teddy.”

As for curiosity, a little curiosity is a good thing (unless you are a cat…). We all want to know what is in the box, don’t we? However, they “need to know” can become a little overwhelming if it is not satisfied in a timely fashion.

However, FoMO is a lot more than that.  FoMO plays on lots of different parts of our minds and many software developers are well aware of this now, and those with lower than average ethics are designing to heavily hammer it!

Facebook (and many other apps!)

A good example of FoMO in action can be seen with Facebook. Facebook gives us windows into the lives of people we know and at times that we don’t know all that well. We see pictures of their lunch, their nights out, their thoughts, their successes and their failures. But it is more than that, Facebook offers the chance to check one’s social status and to seek validation. When you post something, you often want (even if you don’t realise it) people to respond in some way. To ensure that you know that someone has responded, Facebook notifies you.

This is when FOMO starts to take its grip. You phone dings and you know there is something to be seen. If you are able to, you instantly whip out your phone, if not you start to stew – wondering what you have missed. If this continues you start to feel anxious – “what if I have missed something really important?” The phone dings again, you still can’t get to it, anxiety starts to really take grip. Your pulse quickens, your chest is tight “Oh god, I really need to know what is happening – what have I missed?” Finally, you are able to check, your needs satisfied, only to see it is just a video of your best friends, neighbors, sons, best friends, half brother’s cat rolling over.

Facebook is not the only one by the way. Many, many apps are designed like this.

Anxiety and Depression

It sounds daft, but it is a real issue. FoMO is already seen to lead to anxiety and depression. These are not nice feelings, yet in an age where every service provider is trying to attract our attention on our phones, it is a powerful tool. When it gets really bad, people will find themselves looking at their phone hoping to see a notification, if there is not one, they will go looking for things they may have missed – terrified they are missing out.

Does that sound like something you want to create in your users? Feelings of anxiety and even depression?

Tips to avoid Evil FoMO

Consider your design intent

  • Why do you need people to look at the app (or whatever)?
  • Do they need to look at it straight away?
  • Is it the you who wants them to engage with the app, or is it the user?
  • Who is really in control of the experience?
  • Are the users in control of the experience or are the designers?
  • Is it easy to switch off notifications that are not essential
  • Read More ...