Using gamification at home is the life hack you’ve been searching for. 

So what are gamification techniques?  They refer to the practice of taking the game principles that motivate and engage players and applying them to non-game situations.

The folks over at Product Tribe point out that the following techniques borrowed from game theory can be implemented without using any special apps or systems:

  • Attach rewards to your to-do list
  • Add surprise rewards
  • Use time-based challenges
  • Be accountable to others

These are gamification examples that work in any setting. 

How is Gamification Used in Learning?

Gamification in education is used to motivate students by rewarding desirable behavior such as turning in homework on time, raising hands rather than speaking out of turn, and keeping clean work stations. 

It can also be used to discourage undesirable behavior such as missing assignments, distracting classmates, being late or coming to class without appropriate materials. 

Points earned can usually then be saved and redeemed for larger rewards such as sitting in the teacher’s chair for a day, a hall or homework pass, or even the opportunity to have a teacher get temporary highlights in a fun color. 

Gamification has helped teachers make routine tasks more fun, give kids tangible goals and build classroom community.

How to Use Gamification In Your Home?

Use gamification to solve the motivational problems besieging your family. 

First, decide what needs doing at your house. 

  • What tasks are a struggle?
  • What’s a task or two that they can easily achieve every day?
  • Do you want to incentivise both schoolwork and chores?
  • Are all tasks assigned to each person, or are most tasks up for grabs?
  • Do you want to spread out the workload at your house to make more family time available for everyone? Do some quick research for age-appropriate chores.

Second, establish some way to lay out clearly what needs to be done, as well as when things are expected to be done.  These should be posted, either physically or virtually, somewhere that your family can refer back to easily and often.

Third, find some rewards that motivate your family.  You can find lists of ideas for free incentives to get you thinking, but it would be best if you also got your kid’s input into what rewards they would like to work towards.

Fourth, find some rewards that motivate your family.  You can find lists of ideas for free incentives to get you thinking, but it would be best if you also got your kid’s input into what rewards they would like to work towards.

Stop the Buses! Adults and Kids Need to Buy Into the Gamification System

Equally important to consider as you get started, is that one of the core techniques video games use to get you to buy into the game is making gaining levels easier in the beginning. 

Borrow this technique and make sure to include a couple of rewards or badges that can be earned early on (in the first day or two) of implementing the program in your home.

Also consider buying into the program yourself.  Add some rewards you’d like to earn, and think about what habits you’d like to develop (or curb). 

Your family will probably be more likely to accept a program designed to help them overcome their shortcomings if you are also committing to do something about yours.

Finally, decide what system you are going to use to run your gamified home. 

Free Gamification Apps

Luckily, many of the best gamification apps are free (with in-app purchases, of course).

This is a fantastic, gamified behavioral and learning management system designed for use in the classroom.  However, there is no reason why you can’t customize it for your home instead, especially since there is already precedent for its use in homeschooling

This will get you set up with everything you need to gamify your family’s life.

Another gamified behavioral management system originally designed for use in the classroom.  This platform is much simpler and more cutsie, making it ideal for use with kids under 10 years old.

Life RPG

Do It Now

Epic Win

These apps gamify task lists.  There are several options but they are all visually appealing, let you reward success, and provide discouragement for failure.


These apps help people build new habits and overcome challenges.

If you are using badges as rewards, you can set some up digitally with this program.  Alternatively, you can print out a physical set that you like.

Benefits of Gamification

Getting points, reaching higher levels, climbing scoreboards, earning rewards and embarking on new quests excites our brains.

These achievements encourage our brains to release dopamine in the mesolimbic pathway (the “reward pathway”), which creates higher motivation and makes us continue to chase after reward.

Kids play video games.  According to two studies polling young children and tweens and teens:

  • Young children aged 2 to 4 play for 21 minutes per day
  • Children aged 5 to 8 play for 42 minutes per day
  • 66% of tweens aged 8 to 12 play video games for an average of 2 hours per day
  • 56% of teens aged 13 to 17 play video games for an average of 2.5 hours per day
  • Over 80% of both tweens and teens have a gaming console

As a result, they naturally gravitate to things that resemble games since they understand and respect their mechanics and rules.

Critics of gamification theory argue that it supports a carrot and stick mindset.  However, real life is full of natural consequences that have a lot more in common with extrinsic motivation than intrinsic motivation. 

Find the balance for your family that helps keep them feeling motivated without expecting a reward for every task.  

In Short, Do It! Your Family Will Thank You!

 Don’t think of it as tricking your family into doing things, think of it as making what they already have to do fun.  Our minds are the one that play tricks on us. 

All it takes is a bad day for our mind to forget all about our previous accomplishments and focus only on the vague but mountainous pile of things we have yet to do. 

Gamification helps us keep in sight how much we’ve done in the past, and supports us as we take the steps to climb that mountain.