Introduction: How to Make Reading Books Like Playing a Fun Game
I know you are curious about how to make reading books like playing a fun game. Hopefully at the end of this article, I have convinced you, and you can start playing.
Do you struggle to read books?
I am passionate about reading great books. And I read books from many different genres. Although I must admit that there are many times when I focus on one for a while. I need to be more consistent with mixing things up. The Strategic Reading Challenge forces me to mix up the type of books that I read.
One of my goals in life is to get more professionals reading books. I would love it if I convinced 1,000 professionals to read a book every week (this is a moving target that will keep on going up). But I would settle for two books a month.
Update: First Published in June 2017
And I want more people to sign up for the Strategic Reading Challenge, but I thought that it would be better if I made the experience more enjoyable before I do any marketing and promotion. While reading the book Enterprise Games, the idea came to me to gamify the reading challenge. It struck me that I should write a post about how to make reading books like playing a fun game.
[Related Post: SummaReview of For the Win by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter]
Most people like to play a game that’s fun. They love a good story, and they love to experience the joy of going on a journey. When you play a game, you go on a journey. From reading Enterprise Games, I learned that games have four defining traits.
4 Defining Traits of Games
- Goals: What the game is about.
- Rules: Define how the players go about achieving the goals. The rules are the challenge of the game.
- Feedback Systems: These are the user interfaces that engage the players. They show players how they are doing. Are they getting closer to achieving their goals?
- Voluntary Participation: The above three traits of the game help players decide if they want to get into the game.
I decided to fill out the four defining traits of games for the Strategic Reading Challenge as if it was a game. Here is what I came up with.
Goal of the Strategic Reading Challenge (Story and the Mission)
- Read books that allow you to learn and master key workplace skills.
- Read books written by authors from around the globe to learn skills that will help you to get along with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
- Use the newly acquired skills to solve existing workplace problems to give you more visibility and authority at work.
Rules of the Strategic Reading Challenge (How to Score and What You Win)
- Choose the books you plan to read for three months at a time, so you are not scrambling to find which book to read.
- Every six days, read a book that is based on a specific reading challenge criterion.
- Take notes while reading books, especially the non-fiction books.
- Review your notes after reading each book, then pick out the five big ideas.
- Write down where the authors were born, and their birth date, if it is easy to find. You can use this as a metric to track how diversely you are reading.
- At the end of the month, combine ideas from the five books, finding ways to elevate ideas into bigger more encompassing ones.
- Teach what you learn to other people.
- Implement your ideas by applying the information at work.
Feedback System of the Strategic Challenge (Points, Badges, Levels)
- Did you read the five books based on the requirements for the month?
- Could you clearly explain to others what you learned?
- Did you apply the new skills to your work and life?
- Did you act on any of the great ideas you produced that month?
Voluntary Participation in the Strategic Reading Challenge
When you play a game, you go on a journey, and you must make choices while on the journey. The journey looks like the hero’s journey. The hero – who could be you – gets a call to go on a journey. You either accept or reject the call. If you accept the call to go on the journey, you will face many challenges and difficulties along the way. There will be a mentor to help you overcome the challenges and difficulties. You complete the journey, becoming much wiser.
You can either remain where you are, or return, to teach others what you have learned. The goals, rules, and feedback system determine if you will participate in the game.
Looking at voluntary participation in the Strategic Reading Challenge.
You are called to go on the Strategic Reading Challenge Journey, to develop a list of key skills that you need to succeed, personally and professionally. If you decide to participate in the challenge, there are times when you find it difficult to read five books in a month. The text of some of the books may be difficult to understand. Or some of the books may be boring to you. Or you may be asking yourself, “Why am I doing this again?” You may question if the time investment is worth the reward.
To move beyond these difficulties, you have peer mentors in the Strategic Reading Challenge to Learn Key Skills Facebook group to help you. If you have been taking notes, reviewing them, teaching the skills to others and applying them in the workplace, your new knowledge will transform you. You will master the key skills that will allow you to thrive. What you do next would be up to you. Depending on the great ideas you produce while reading the book, you could write an e-book, or develop a course. And that would be your way of returning to teach others what you learned.
Essentially, you develop new skills, and demonstrate the competence needed, that will allow you to do your job well, and even move into other jobs in the company that require those new skills.
What I Missed from the Process
But after sleeping on what I wrote using the four defining traits of games, I realized that it was too much about me and not enough about you. Life is very much about evolution. What are the deeper benefits to reading challenge participants?
I found more information in Enterprise Games that will make the Strategic Challenge more enticing. And it will also make reading books more like playing a fun game.
Jane McGonigal’s 4 Essential Human Cravings
Game designers strive to address four human cravings to create a successful game. When you satisfy human cravings, people are pumped up, and ready to tackle big challenges. This makes work fun.
- Satisfying work
- Experience or hope of success
- Social connection
- Chance to be a part of something larger than ourselves
“Many people feel their jobs are not fair, and they do not connect with them precisely because their jobs lack the four defining traits of a game. Their jobs lack a dear goal, the rules are hard to understand and change all the time. They do not get useful feedback in a timely manner, and they have little control over what jobs they perform, so voluntary or enthusiastic participation is often hard to come by.” Enterprise Games: Using Game Mechanics to Build a Better Business
3 Effective Feedback Systems
- Real time transparency of relevant data.
- Authority to act is delegated to players.
- Stake in the outcome for all parties.
Daniel Pink’s 3 Elements of Motivation
- Autonomy: Need to be self-directed.
- Mastery: Make progress and get better.
- Purpose: Part of something larger than ourselves.
Reasons for Playing a Game
- Fun to play and gets voluntary participation.
- By playing the game, you learn, earn, and get better at what you do.
Happy and Engaged Players/Employees
To have happy and engaged players and employees, you have to create a game/workplace that meets Daniel Pink’s Three Elements of Motivation and Jane McGonigal’s Four Essential Human Cravings.
- There is a compelling purpose to play the game. In the context of reading books, you are reading books because you want to develop skills that will help you to solve existing problems in your industry or even in your workplace. You want to make a difference.
- You want to do satisfying work, and that may mean, you have to upskill or reskill to get there. Everyone hopes to achieve some level of success at work, and that means mastering your responsibilities. You also want to understand what it means to succeed at work, and when playing a game. In the context of reading books, you want to develop and master the skills that allow you to transition into work that aligns with your personal values. And by doing this, you hope to achieve a certain level of success in your career.
- At work, or playing a game, you want a certain level of autonomy. In the context of reading books, you get to choose which books you are going to read.
Final Thoughts: How to Make Reading Books Like Playing a Fun Game
You can gamify reading books. And to make reading books more like playing a fun game, you can personalize the Strategic Reading Challenge. For instance, I have goals for the reading challenge, but you may realize that your skills are outdated, or you are constantly passed over for promotions, and that’s why you decide to participate in the reading challenge. In this case, you can have a more specific goal than mine. One that truly meets your needs.
You can go through the four defining traits of games to personalize them. Now that I have read Enterprise Games, I have to go back into the content management system to make the experience of reading books more like a game. One thing I plan to do, is to divide the reading challenge into four levels. After successfully completing three months, you move to the next level, until you complete the reading challenge. From what I have observed so far, if people complete the first three months, they will likely complete the reading challenge.
While reading Enterprise Games, I conducted a search to find out if there were any reading apps that would complement the Strategic Reading Challenge. I came across the article, Gamify Your Reading Life With Habitica, which I had forgotten about. This was a great reminder for me to test Habitica.
Although this is not a review or summary, a lot of the information in this article, How to Make Reading Books Like Playing a Fun Game, from Enterprise Games. If you are interested in gamification, Enterprise Games and For the Win are worth the read.
[Further Reading: Gamify Your Reading Life With Habitica ]
Some of the Books Mentioned in Enterprise Games
The Great Game of Business, Jack Stack
Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal
Total Engagement, Byron Reeves & J Leighton Read
Drive, Daniel Pink