Thursday, March 7, 2013

Challenge Accepted: The RPG-style To-Do List

A few weeks ago, a friend pointed me to GetYeDone.com, an interactive, fantasy game style online to-do list. You start by signing up and preparing a character sheet, complete with race, class, and skills/attributes. Then you launch your quest: whether it's schoolwork, housekeeping, finding a job or managing the workload you already have, now you can get your daily dose of accomplishment!

In each quest you can list a gathering of tasks (quests themselves can be grouped in meta 'odysseys'), and as you check off a task you receive XP based on the difficulty. Since I joined Challenge Accepted about a week ago, I've gotten to level 2 and am nearly at 3. The most XP I got for a single task was 50 points, from a 'mini-boss' setting manuscript edit. Smaller tasks, like submitting a short story or sending an email, earn me 5 points each.

Challenge Accepted is useful for a number of reasons. First, it takes advantage of the effect that makes RPGs so addictive: the buzz of accomplishment you get as you check of boxes and watch numbers rack up, whether those numbers symbolize imaginary gold coins or XP. So far, it's only XP you can earn through Challenge Accepted, which brings up some aspects of it I'll critique in a minute. In its favor, it's fun, the website is easily accessible whenever you go online (I log into it first thing in a tab beside my email and check off what I've finished since last time) and is much more fun than a list in a Google Doc. By keeping a record of completed quests, it also enables you to look back on what you've accomplished--which can be useful when, say, adding an internship experience to one's resume. The hierarchy of odysseys, quests, and tasks makes for easy organization. You can keep track of long-term goals ("Therese's Writing Career" is one of my Odysseys) while breaking them up into small, simple steps ("One Hundred Days" is a quest, and "complete red-ink comments on the paper manuscript" is a particular task).

For some (*ahem*) this may lead to the temptation to tinker, and to waste potentially productive time  in giving cutesey names to Quests and adding or deleting tasks. Probably less time is wasted than would be with an actual role-playing-game, however, as there's not all that much to do in Challenge Accepted except create tasks and tick them off when they're finished. I've had some random encounters of sorts, but they're just flavor text that haven't affected my...gameplay, I suppose it's called. One of the options to tinker with is the abilities and attributes used to perform each task. I'm not sure what selecting these does for me. Am I gaining ranks in skills? Are these meant to reflect my real-life progress? Perhaps when I hit level 10 in the game I'll start to feel like a level 10 in real life, too, whatever that means. The fact that I usually choose 'persevering' as my ability may say something about me.

It's disappointing that the rewards of Challenge Accepted aren't more solid. Then again, compared to a traditional to-do list, at least there are the bells and whistles and happy gaming/winning associations. And of course, the real reward in completing tasks is the real-life productivity and accomplishments you enjoy.

If you want to check out the site, do note that the game is called "Challenge Accepted" but the URL is GetYeDone.com. Happy questing!

Edit: Challenge Accepted is a work in development, but you can keep track of new additions and further improvements at their Coming Soon page. I'm looking forward to the email due date alerts!

Another edit: As of July 2013, I am still using GetYeDone, which says something for its usefulness. A few more updates to the site have been done as well.