A Game for the Deterred

habitrpg_pixelAs an avid procrastinator with big plans, I often found myself going to bed every night unsatisfied with what I did, or rather didn’t, accomplish that day. I had tried everything from writing daily to-do lists, leaving sticky notes all over my apartment and desk at work, and even setting alarms on my phone reminding me to stay on track. Nothing worked and I kept living on with my half-motivated, mostly unproductive self.

That is until I found this game: HabitRPG. It’s a rather typical RPG game: you level up and earn gold for completing tasks. Only they aren’t tasks within the game, they’re tasks you complete yourself. I know you might be scoffing at the idea, laughing at how easy it is to cheat, or just snickering because it’s an open-source RPG that still has a long way to go. But hear me out: It’s insanely rewarding.

There’s something to be said about crossing an item off your to-do list, especially if the task is difficult or particularly involved. But checking off an item in HabitRPG and watching the XP bar move forward with the chance of special items to drop–yeah, that’s even better.


There are three different types of tasks you can have: habits, dailies, and to-dos. Habits and to-dos won’t affect your health if left uncompleted, but dailies will.

Habits are a good way to help give a quick boost to your XP because they can be repeated over and over (for example, some of mine are “drink a glass of water,” “complete 1 hour of work,” “donate 1k grains on free rice”). You can also set negative habits (e.g. smoking a cig or taking the elevator) that lower your health.

As for dailies, I mix it up with things I like to do and things I should do: “work on novel for at least 20 minutes,” “spend 1 hour working on The Cinematika’s tumblr,” “spend 30 minutes reading”. You can also schedule dailies to occur on certain days (e.g. Laundry day).

To-Dos are things that you need to accomplish, but aren’t repeating (e.g. review The Station Agent on my blog).

There are quests to be completed, pets to be found, and challenges to be joined. You can set different difficulty levels for your to-dos/dailies/habits which influence how much gold and XP you gain for completion. You can play on your desktop and there are apps for iPhone and Android. HabitRPG is free and is a great way to make yourself a better person and knock some things off your life list (such as finishing that damn novel you promised you’d write).

A quick word to the wise: don’t be like me and overshoot what you can accomplish in a day. Your character will die.

16 Comments on "A Game for the Deterred"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Jul 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm |

    Interesting. I may be able to jerry rig my gaming habits to give me a life hack…

  2. where’s the app that makes turns my to do into a zynga game?

    5 LET todo = 0
    10 IF click THEN dopamine
    30 WAIT x HOURS
    40 todo = todo + 1
    45 IF todo = x THEN 99
    50 GO TO 10
    99 BURN hamster wheel

  3. Spasmodius | Jul 12, 2014 at 10:14 am |

    I like playing VirtualHabitRPG, where I lie in bed pretending I’m playing

  4. I’ve teased my WoW playing friends with this for years…so glad someone finally made it!!! I’d keep saying shit like “stepping away from the comp-500xp….new quest unlocked-basic hygeine- 2000xp if you manage to shower!”…and then they’d call me a sarcastic prick. I’d complain…but they aren’t really wrong on that score. 🙂

  5. can i get a + to tobacco resistance? because i think i’d never survive the game otherwise

  6. Craig Bickford | Jul 12, 2014 at 6:55 pm |

    It is also a game where you ‘level up’ for gold, you can’t get any more D&D retarded than that.

  7. what if you used the game to reenforce your other time-wasting game playing?

    • Heheh, I was also considering something along those lines: setting goals like “Finally finish the Borderlands DLC campaigns that I always meant to get back to.”

      Could even divide that one up into sub-goals for the four different DLCs…

      • yessiree, that should be some entertaining metadata…

        …would you like to buy some Borderlands DLC merch? Click here now.

  8. emperorreagan | Jul 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm |

    Can I link it to my fitbit?

    Is it cheating to set a goal of “walking 10,000 steps while black out drunk” with the reward of “walking 10,000 steps while black out drunk”? How many hypothetical orcs can I kill this way before the orcs with the flashy blue lights challenge me to battle?

  9. Spasmodius | Jul 12, 2014 at 11:08 pm |

    If I was Skynet I’d be pretty chuffed at 2014’s version of humanity.
    Not chuffed, though, nominal ecstacy or somesuch. 9

  10. Yeah. Not that I would likely have seriously considered using this thing, but those T&Cs ring several alarm bells for me.

  11. Thankfully, ÿ went into procrastination mode (8^D) before giving it a whirl. But, of course:

    If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.

    Facebook 3:16

  12. Number1Framer | Jul 13, 2014 at 10:17 pm |

    Most of my procrastination these days can be stemmed by avoiding this site. But here I am, night after night…

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