If you are an Indian and have not just landed from Mars, you definitely know about the “Swachha Bharat” campaign, an interesting initiative of the Govt. Of India to make indian cities garbage free. On the 2nd of October, senior Govt officials, right from the Indian Prime Minister took to the streets with brooms in hand to clean up the mess. The Prime Minister urged the residents to offer ‘Shramdan’ (voluntary physical labour) of 2 hours a week to clean up their houses, offices and neighbourhoods. All national media channels covered the PM’s speech and showed footage of ministers cleaning up railway stations. So far so good.
Now, what a campaign like this requires to succeed is behaviour change. At 2 Levels. First one, which is easier to achieve is to have the resolve “I will not dirty my city“. This can be achieved by sustained awareness, with media playing an important role.
But the 2nd one, which is “I will clean up my house/office/neigbourhood‘ is the diificult part. Because this calls for behaviour change and therefore a huge amount of Motivation. Intrinsic Motivation. The kind of motivation money cant buy.
And this brings me to “Chore Wars” – an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) that connects the real world to the virtual one and helps you keep yourself motivated to complete chores at work and office, including cleanliness.
The fundamentals of this game are simple, you sign up to the site/app, choose an avatar, choose some tasks (in real life) that you are good at “Take the bins out”, “clean the bathroom”, etc and then move on to form your own team with a distinct name (e.g “The Mop Squad“, “Office Goblins”, “Griznaks Raiders” etc and then get into a pre-generated adventure or create your own adventure.
A task like ‘cleaning the bathroom” offers you 45 XP (experience points) while “dusting” gives you 25 XP while “vacuuming” gives you 30 XP. All these tasks need to be completed in real life.
Gamify Cleanliness Swachh Bharat

Screengrab from Chore Wars. Img courtesy: chorewars.com

The game elements layered are multiple – quests, challenges, power of community, feedback, status, leveling up and many more to keep you motivated to do the samechores that you never had any motivation for. Its brilliance lies in the fact that it ‘makes you WANT’ to do the clean up, by playing on your intrinsic motivation.
And that’s what Swachha Bharat should try to achieve, at least in a web and mobile version, and get people intrinsically motivated to clean up. Will it work? Definitely yes, if the Design, Engineering and Art are good, it can hugely increase the engagement and initiate a lot more people to clean up than the newspaper ads would.
How long will the motivation last? Difficult to say, as motivation is different for different people. And the destiny of any game is to become boring to the user, and being deserted, but till then the volume of cleanliness achieved would be significant, enough to make a certain Mohandas Gandhi smile.
The post was originally written for People Matters by Raj Dam
Raj Dam, is the Founder of Playday, a company that uses gamification as a technique to measure and enhance employee learning at enterprises. Raj is an interactive learning evangelist, and a serial entrepreneur based out of Bangalore.

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