Back when I was a kid, I used to try and maximize my score while playing Tetris on a handheld video-game. When the game ended, I was left with a score, which I couldn’t really use anywhere else. Yet, without that score, there would be no game.
Having people earn points is among the easiest of tricks to hack into people’s behaviour. Twitter followers and Instagram or Facebook likes are points doled out to users to keep them on the platform longer – a tactic that works extraordinarily well. Hotel chains and credit card companies also have us collect points (the choice of the word ‘points’ is intentional). Airlines call them miles although you are only too quick to realize that 1 mile in your account doesn’t nearly translate to 1 mile in the real world.
We are surrounded by games that we often play. But what prizes do we win? Playing a fitness challenge with your friends can earn you a valuable prize. Does getting the max-score on your Tetris video-game benefit you? Collecting likes on Facebook benefits Facebook way more than it benefits you.
As Naval Ravikant often quips, when you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. With any game you are playing, it is important to step back and ask what prize is at stake.