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Habitica is a habit-building program designed for people who enjoy role-playing games (also called RPGs). RPGs involve upgrading a character’s appearance and abilities by completing tasks, and being responsible for the character’s health.
In Habitica users can set tasks in real life (e.g. “brushed my teeth”, “got an A in English”, etc.) and when achieved they can unlock new and exciting content for their characters to enjoy.
Users can also set habits they want to avoid in the real world (e.g. “smoking”, “eating chocolate”, etc.), which will result in his or her character losing some health.
The app can connect users to online support communities, where they can also start group challenges (i.e. tasks that all members will work towards).
A great way to make daily chores and to-dos feel like a game.
What we think
Using variable rewards to motivate change is an evidence-based Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) strategy. The developers report strong anecdotal evidence supporting the Habitica’s effectiveness on their website: http://habitica.com
Habitica requires users to manage their own tasks and rewards/punishments, which can take some time setting up. Children particularly may need adult support to use the app effectively. Once the tasks and reward systems are in place it will be easy to use for anyone familiar with an RPG, or games like Minecraft, etc.
Habitica is designed to assist users in achieving various personal goals across different contexts (e.g. work, health, school, and chores).
Habitica is essentially a motivator, however the app can not tell if users are cheating (e.g. lying about completing tasks), which may require some consideration.
Not everyone will be able to use this app independently and may require facilitator support – a good indicator of competence will be if the user already plays RPGs.
The tasks and reward system are completely customisable, and the user can make many personalised decisions over their character’s upgrades.
Habitica can assist with positive habit-building and should be used in conjunction with recommended strategies.
Habitica’s appearance could be simplified as to appear less overwhelming and technical, which may turn some users off (particularly those new to RPGs).
Users may need to consider ways to discourage their user-dependency on the rewards offered by the app in order to make long-term habit changes.
In a world clouded by ever-increasing screen-time, Habitica may offer some silver lining: people motivated to achieve their real life goals.