Chore Wars is a computer game which is played in the real world. It’s an RPG which contains no roleplaying or story. It’s a game with no gameplay, and a game that everyone around here is playing. Leveling up is a chore by design, and yet the game is more rewarding than many conventional RPG’s. It’s multiplayer, although the players don’t usually interact until they’re done playing. Even though the dice rolls are automated, the encounters are randomly generated, and there is no story or NPCs to talk to, the game is run by a human DM. Sound silly? Listen…
|There are some who call me… "Daddy"?|
The “game” – such as it is – is played entirely through a web interface. The DM sets up a number of “adventures”, which in this context is just an insidious euphemism for “crappy thankless job”, and assigns XP, gold, and potential treasure rewards. A player then does one one of these jobs, and then claims the reward. The game does a good job of creating a little positive feedback for menial chores, which is the whole point. It also lets you see who the slackers in your particular group are.
The treasure rewards can be anything the DM likes. You can get a “+10 headband of Awesome”, or “a cookie”. The item appears on your character sheet and you can work out what they really mean, if anything, within your own group. I realize this whole idea sounds dangerously close to LARPing, an activity against which I have taken a firm stand in the past. I’m willing to allow it here, because frankly I just dig having the kids come in and beg to clean my office.
Our kids have been playing for three days now. Our house, which is usually ruled by the cruel hand of entropy, has stayed remarkably clean. The kids have actually gone to their mother and demand she provide additional tasks for them to do. The rewards she gives them – stuff like “go to the park” or “lollipop” are things she normally gives them anyway, except now they feel like these rewards are something they have earned. More work is getting done with less complaining, and there are less fights about who is or isn’t pulling their weight. I’m not sure how long the spell will last – I assume they will tire of it eventually – but for now it’s been a fun way to get things done around here.
The game is easy to set up and eats minimal time. It’s also free, of course. Note that everyone involved needs to be on board with the idea, or grief players will take advantage of the unwary.
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