Mindbloom's "The Life Game" turns real life goals into a social game

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One major criticism leveled against social games is that they're a major time sink, eating away hours and even days that could be devoted to self-improvement rather than mindless clicking. Now, there's a new social game that can actually help you improve your life as you play. Mindbloom's "The Life Game" uses social gaming techniques and mechanisms to encourage you to perform simple self-improvement tasks in the real world.

The game, officially announced today, starts by asking you to pick three specific areas of your life you want to focus on improving (mine were career, health and leisure). You then pick and schedule daily tasks that apply to bettering your life in these areas -- for health, suggested tasks include "drinking eight glasses of water" or "taking your One a Day multivitamin" (that last one is sponsored by the vitamin-maker, unsurprisingly).

Completing scheduled tasks (and logging them on the site) on time earns in-game seeds (read: points) as well as achievements and more color for the vibrantly animated "life tree" that sits on the game's front page. Sure, you can cheat by checking in tasks you didn't actually do, but since these are real world improvements we're talking about, the only person you're really cheating is yourself. Ideally, you'll get all your friends to play along with you, so you can collectively monitor each others' progress and apply the kind of social pressure that can be so effective in motivating real change.

We've just skimmed the surface thus far, but already it seems like a great idea for a new kind of social game, paired with a great execution and a nice, clean interface. Here's hoping it can actually motivate us to lose that extra 15 pounds we've been nursing since we graduated college.
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