THE CHORE WARS EFFECT
For my famliy, we have been way more productive on our chores in the last two weeks of doing Chore Wars. Above all, it has made it more fun for me to focus on getting the chores done. There are three main ways I have found it motivating.
1. It Helps Me Keep Track of Chores.
By having every chore in the house on a fun "to do" list I am much more aware of what I've done and what needs to be done. The XP also represents time so it's much faster to identify something I can do if I only have a spare 15 minutes. Just getting organized has helped a lot.
2. It Encourages Competition For Cleanliness.
It may seem silly, but it bothers me when my wife is ahead of me on XP. It makes me want to get more. It's a friendly competition but I'm competitive enough of a person that it sparks my interst to try harder and stay ahead.
3. It Help Us All Understand the Value of the Chores.
This is the biggest boon of Chore Wars. One of the frustrating things about the chores (for me) is that I never felt like my wife really recognized how much work I put in to the house. Additionally, I realized she did a lot around the house that I never really thought about or gave her much credit for. Chore Wars keeps track. In addition to sparking a spirit of competition, it's just nice to know that your good deeds will be remembered. It's nice to look at what my wife and daughter have done. It helps me recognize the work they put in to keeping the household running. It's a fun way to make sure you pay attention to the effort everyone in the family puts forth to help the family function.
THE LAME BITS
The unfortunate part of Chore Wars is that you really only get out what you put in. It's up to you to make those experience points mean something. You can have quest let you fight wandering monsters, get gold and get treasure but it's all entirely text based. Your treasure pile only means something if you decide that it does. None of the "loot" shows up on your character as anything other than some text saying that you have it. You do level up and you're stats do increase but the net effect is just numbers going up. For example, my first level barbarian looked like this :
|1st Level Barbarian|
He's a pretty cool demon looking avatar. However, I've leveled all the way up to a level 5 fighter. Now my super awesome avatar looks like this:
|5th Level Fighter|
See the difference!? Yeah that's because there is none. The lack of graphical update is a bit of a bummer. Chore Wars gives the impression of a great idea that had a great start and is now maintained with a minimum of updates. The last update seems to have been February 2011 in which they fixed some kind of experience bug. The update before that was September 2009...so not a lot of improvements in the last 2 years.
WHAT WE'VE DONE
The XP, because it represents real time spent that goes on a permanent record has some intrinsic value. I could not, for the life of me, figure out the point of random monsters - so we don't use them. The gold we earn we haven't figured out how to use yet. However, we've discussed using to bid on who gets to pick a movie or an evening activity. I think we'll find a fun way to spend it. We set up a shop for my daughter (on a piece of paper) so she can buy more computer time, a treat from the store, or some other fun prizes. The "treasures" seemed meaningless until we decided to avoid goofy treasures and have them represent real things. Rather than a random chance, we always set it to 100% and only put treasures on big quests. So, for example, my wife earned the treasure of "15 minute foot rub" for making me a huge batch of salsa. She can turn that treasure in at any time to get that reward.
Like I said, Chore Wars can be incredibly motivating and fun. I don't know how long we'll keep doing it, but for now it's definitely been worth it. Unfortunately, it is up to the user to make something motivating out of the game. Its lack of graphics, animations, or even sound effects means that Chore Wars really only has meaning if you and your family decide that it does. However, with a little imagination and willingness to go along, Chore Wars can help your family turn the everyday drudgery of chores into a very rewarding competition.
If you give Chore Wars a try or you've already tried it, please feel free to leave a comment about your expereince with the game and any tips you have to help others succeed.