9 Gamification Apps to Keep You Motivated

gamification apps

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There are elements to gamification in many aspects of life — often, you may not even notice it. In fact, since gamification is a great way to keep you motivated on tasks that would otherwise be difficult or boring, it makes sense to introduce more gamification into your life. 

With the following gamification apps, you can do everything from improving your productivity and learning new skills to better managing your finances and staying fit.

What Is Gamification?

Before going further, it’s important to be clear about what we mean by gamification.

Through gamification, you can turn any task fun, including ones you really don’t want to do. Apps use several different methods to achieve this, but the most popular types of gamification are:

  • Rewards — In their simplest form, rewards are points you accumulate. Apps may add another layer to this by allowing you to compare your progress over a certain period of time, such as to keep beating your record. Apps may also have badges for achieving something specific or for reaching a particular number of points. One last type of reward is currency, which you may gain simply by opening the app each day or you may need to reach targets. Usually, you can exchange currency for things like extra live or in-game swag.
  • Level up — Your performance could lead you to reach the next level of the game, where challenges may become more difficult.
  • Competition — Some apps allow you to compete with other players at challenges or to compare your achievements (in terms of points or levels) on a scoreboard.
  • Narratives — Apps that have a storyline often provide you with a character who progresses with a quest as you complete challenges. Reaching targets may unlock the next chapter in the narrative.

Benefits of Gamification

Gamification is much more than a novelty; it actually has several significant benefits.

Stay on Track

Gamification can motivate you to keep progressing toward a goal or maintain your daily performance when you otherwise may have given up or slipped back into bad habits.

Compare and Compete

Apps that allow you to compare your scores to those of other users give you something to aim for. If there’s also a scoreboard, you’ll be motivated to move up the ranks — or at least secure your position.

Gain Back Control

At times, it can feel like life is living you, especially if you have responsibilities you’d rather shirk. Gamification gives you back the controls and allows you to set your own targets.

Receive Dopamine

A study of video games found that players’ brains released dopamine when they succeeded at a difficult challenge. It’s likely that turning monotonous tasks into games by using gamification apps can do the same.

Best Gamification Apps in 2021

Whatever you want to achieve, you should be able to find a gamification app for the purpose. However, some apps, in particular, stand out as being top choices.

1. Todoist

You can manage everything on your to-do list and improve your productivity with Todoist. You input all of your tasks into the app and give them a deadline. 

If you meet the deadline, you’ll receive karma — but if you miss the deadline, you’ll lose karma. The more karma you accumulate, the higher your level. This means if you slip up for a few days, you could actually drop a level. 

Todoist also lets you involve others, both by sharing your progress on social media and by delegating tasks to other users in a shared project.

Todoist has three different plans. Free gives you five projects, five collaborators per project, and a one-week history. Pro increases to 300 active projects, 25 collaborators per project, and unlimited activity history. Business is just for large teams — it gives you 50 people per project and extra features like admin and member roles.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: Free available; paid versions start at $3 per month

2. Habitica

Another option for daily tasks is Habitica — but it works in a completely different way. 

Habitica is an RPG game in which your character progresses with a quest when you complete items on your to-do list. You also accumulate gold, which you can use for rewards in the game, such as armor, pets, and magic skills, or for real-life rewards. This is another app where you are punished if you miss a target: your character loses gold or health points.

The app has some interesting features that make it more engaging. For instance, you create the character and then play alone or join parties to complete quests. Plus, you can use the app both for developing good habits and for overcoming bad ones. Each task you set can have a different difficulty rating for distinct rewards.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: Free available; $4.99 per month for extra in-game rewards

3. Forest

An alternative for overcoming bad habits is Forest. The app helps you stay focused instead of wasting your time on addictive apps on your phone. 

Whenever you want to concentrate (perhaps at the office or in the company of others), you simply plant a tree on the app and wait for it to grow. If you leave the app to look at something else, though, the tree will die. 

Remaining focused will allow you to grow an entire focus and gradually unlock rewards. As an added incentive, Forest has partnered with Trees for the Future, which will plant a real tree for you when you spend the virtual coins you earn.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: One-time fee of $1.99, plus in-app purchases available

4. Fitocracy

If you’re specifically looking to work on your fitness goals, Fitocracy is a great choice. You accumulate points, reach new levels, and gain badges for achievements by meeting targets, such as by logging workouts. 

The app is best if you pay for a coach, as you’ll receive customized workouts and a nutrition plan. Plus, your coach will reach out to you daily to keep you accountable and to offer support.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: Free or $1 per day to hire a coach

5. SmartyPig

After health and fitness, the most important goals of many tend to be finance-related  — and SmartyPig can help with these. As the name of the app suggests, the app is like a virtual piggy bank, but with smart features. 

You set savings goals for specific purchases and move funds from your bank account to the app. Since the app is owned by Sallie Mae, it’s a safe place to hold your money.

Budgeting is never fun when you use spreadsheets, but the gamification of SmartyPig can help you feel excited about saving. Plus, saving toward specific purchases is meaningful, which makes it easier to develop good budgeting habits moving forward.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: Free

6. Khan Academy

There are tutorials on just about every subject at Khan Academy. 

Although it’s designed for students (pre-K to college), there are plenty of useful lessons for everyone, particularly in the life skills section. 

The app uses gamification to encourage you to keep expanding your knowledge. For instance, you can earn points, collect badges (some of which are rare), and track your achievements on your dashboard.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: Free

7. Duolingo

Learning a language requires a big commitment — you need to practice on a regular basis to make any progress. There are many language learning apps out there, but one with a large amount of gamification is Duolingo. 

As well as collecting points and comparing your progress with the achievements of other users, you can earn an in-app currency called lingots as well as badges for specific achievements. There are also elements of competition, such as comparing your progress to that of your friends and trying to win the vote for best translation.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: Free

8. SuperBetter

You may not be struggling with specific tasks, but with life in general. Developing resilience will help you to keep progressing toward your targets. Although SuperBetter is aimed at young people, anyone can benefit from the app, particularly if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, burnout from work, or chronic pain. 

The app works by asking you to choose your goals and gives you activities to do each day. Success at the activities means you power up. There are also quests, team activities, the chance to battle with a secret identity, and other types of gamification.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: Free

9. Centrical

For managers and business owners, a great app to use is Centrical. It helps you improve employee performance and engagement by gamifying all kinds of work activities — from collaboration and sales to onboarding and e-learning. 

Employees can compete to win prizes, work toward their own personal challenges, participate in bite-size learning, and complete tasks to progress in quests. There’s a large amount of customization available, allowing you to create whatever works for your team.

Operating Systems: iOS and Android

Price: From $35 per month

Gamification apps are a great way to encourage yourself to complete activities you’d rather not do.

However, there will always be some tasks that are nothing more than a waste of your time — and no amount of gamification will change that. 

To free up more time in your schedule for activities that matter, contract a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant from MYVA360 can help you organize your professional and personal life by taking over things like inbox management, correspondence, bookkeeping, and social media updates. Request a consultation to receive a 10-percent discount.

Laura Holton

Laura is a professional writer specializing in content aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurs. She has helped countless startups find the information they needed to take their ventures to the next level.

Laura Holton

Laura is a professional writer specializing in content aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurs. She has helped countless startups find the information they needed to take their ventures to the next level.


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