Saturday, 9 April 2011

Alternate reality game Chore Wars

My family and I have recently started playing Chore Wars, an alternate reality game that allows you to gain experience points for doing household work. It's an incredibly versatile game as you can design your own quests, so you can in principle use it for anything. For example, I've set up an alternate account for playing Superbetter, with quests and points for such things as filling the monthly pill box or talking to a friend.

But back to its intended purpose. When you log in to Chorewars, you pick an avatar and fill in some questions by which the program decides what class you are and gives you initial stats for strength, constitution, dexterity, charisma, intelligence and wisdom. It then prompts you to set up a group and invite new members. You can play privately, or share your achievements with other players online, getting competitive between teams. But first, it's time to set up your adventures. You can use a pre-made list of adventures that are taken from the most popular ones on the site, or create your own. Each adventure is fully customizable.

Their are several different types of rewards in the game. First of all, each adventure gives you a certain number of experience points, which cause you to level up every 200 XP. Adventures also improve your stats, according to what type of chore they are, for example physical work that takes a long time will improve your constitution while tasks that require you to interact with other people will improve your charisma. As your stats improve, you become more likely to beat the monsters you encounter during your adventures. If you defeat a monster you get the treasure and gold coins they were guarding. Especially the children find this feature really exciting, and it really fires up their imagination! Gold coins and treasures can be saved up and exchanged for real world rewards that you can decide yourself.

Although I still loathe housework, I do find myself - I wouldn't call it enjoying it more - but at least feeling more motivated. I'm perfectly capable of leaving chores undone, but now I do find I do the work just because it will give me points. I also get a lot of pleasure from beating someone else to it. While I'm emptying the dishwasher, I'm internally chortling with glee that my husband won't be claiming these 10 points. They're mine! It's a bit like Tom Sawyer and the fence-painting hack, but it does the trick in any case.

This is an alternate reality game I would definitely recommend! What is your experience with Chore Wars?

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