The Idea Dude


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

When do chores cease to be chores?

Watching kids play Farmville and Restaurant City, I asked myself why these kids are happy to plant vegetables, wait patiently for them to grow and harvest them. Why are they happy to cook, clean toilets and mop floors in the virtual world. Yet we cannot get them to pick up their socks or make their beds.

So when is a chore, a chore? and when is it fun?

I have two observations. Firstly, it's to do with self-motivation. When we are told to do something, there's a part of our brain that rebels. If there were no speed limits, most of us would self-regulate realizing speed kills. Nobody drives down an old country lane with no signage at 100 miles an hour. Yet, when there is a limit posted, there is desire to exceed it by 10 or 20 or just enough not to get caught. Being externally motivated (you must do this) vs self-motivated (I want to do this) is a key to that understanding.

The second observation is when you do something with someone, it's never seems to be as bad as doing it yourself. Try this with your children. Get them to go around the house and pick up stuff by themselves. Trust me, inventing perpetual motion is much easier. But make it a game, like treasure hunt and play it with them, everyone has fun and the job gets done.

Self-motivation and playing with others are keys to engagement. Same reason why people have personal trainers, it's hard to be self-motivated to exercise at home. Much easier to do it at the gym when you see others with equal purpose. The mere fact that you are in the same room doing a common task is sufficient.

My son refuses to buy games that are single player games anymore. His argument, he can finish the game in a couple of days and it sits on his shelf. Network games however allow him to play the game forever because each game is different with new participants. Note, often he doesn't know these people beyond their code names and most times, he'll never meet them again.

However, when we undertake journeys that are important, we prefer to do it with people we know, because they become part of the story, they become part of your history.


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