Before you get your controllers in a bunch, let me point out that Fitocracy is not what most people think of as a game (although some definitions are broad enough to include it under the “game” umbrella, probably …  unless you’re Eric Zimmerman).

Strictly speaking, this is an example of gamification, a process by which routine tasks are turned into quasi-games by adding game features such as points, levels, online social interaction, and rewards.  Fitocracy is typical of the genre in that it keeps track of points – which are calculated from type, intensity and duration of exercise.  How the calculation is done is something of a mystery worthy of Google  – and it sometimes does not seem to reflect effort accurately – but those points add up, resultingin the “player” being rewarded by increased levels and occasionally a cool badge.  Social networking adds a further layer to the reward system by allowing other Fitocrats to comment on your efforts and success and also give you a thumbs up in the form of “props” – which they do with great frequency.

Image representing Fitocracy as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

While this may not sound to the uninitiated like a recipe for successful workout motivation, I have to say that I am finding Fitocracy be highly effective.   Putting my workouts out there for the world to see is a great way to remain accountable.  Having people cheer me on whenever I make a breakthrough – or even actually remember to work out – is enough incentive to motivate me to workout even on days when I don’t want to.  I know I have pushed a little bit harder to achieve a new level, and the occasional, goofy badge, random quest, or user-generated player-vs.player challenge edges the site and app just a little further into the grey zone between gamified routine and a “real game”.

After having tried many tracking programs-  online, computer-based, DS-based, and smartphone-based, I have finally found something that actually motivates me to not only track my exercise but push myself to workout harder and to try different activities just to get another badge.  For now, this is the reigning champion in the fitness game category for me, although the new fitness MMORPG from NerdFitness, Rising Heroes, may give it a run for its money.

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