The fun theory of life

As a dad, I have learned that the only (or at least best) way to get my children to do anything at all–to brush their teeth, eat their greens, jump into bed–is to turn the loathsome activity in question into … fun.

Perhaps the greens must become attacking naughties with shrill voices that want to fly into the mouth but keep missing and splattering. Suddenly, the little mouths are wide open, practically lunging for those mischievous little greens.

And as a former and frequently relapsing kid myself, I have learned that the only (or at least the best) way to get myself into a creative and productive mode is also to turn the loathsome activity in question (setting up interviews, doing research….) into … fun.

So I am delighted to see, and fully endorse, this research project that tries to elevate fun to a design principle. It appears to be a Volkswagen-funded undertaking in Sweden

dedicated to the idea that something as simple as happiness is the absolute easiest way to get people to change.

Video 1: How to get people to use the stairs

Video 2: How to get people to throw their trash into the bin

Thought experiment: Extensions

So now I am thinking: What else could be made fun with proper, more humane design?

  • doing taxes?
  • doing jury duty?
  • going to the doctor?
  • being at the airport?
  • Recycling?
  • Conserving (water, energy …)?

I refuse to exclude anything. It’s all a matter of how much one is willing to imagine. My kids are teaching me to raise the bar.

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11 thoughts on “The fun theory of life

  1. Lots of fun watching the videos, thanks for sharing it.

    Love this new types of advertising campaign. If this works, it may turn out to be a nice way to generate some good ideas to change our behaviour/bad habits and at the same time create some nice viral videos.

    I would like to add the following three,

    * quit smoking
    * drink less bottled water (those bottles!)
    * drink less soft drinks (those sugar!)

  2. During my last 15 years of work (before I retired), every new management theory we had to learn was always introduced via a series of games (as part of a training course). So this idea, of changing behaviour by making it fun, has been used by management consultants for quite some time.

    What is interesting in the video examples is the way the same idea is being applied to everyday behaviour. I just wonder about this being overdone and we will all become immune to any attempt to make life fun, which would be kind of sad.

    • That’s the Russell Corollary to The Fun Theory of Life: The Too-Much Fun Theory of Life. 😉

      You’re right, of course. A lot of this “fun”, especially in the business world, is just gimmickry.

  3. very funny.
    May be it is up to us to do things like the musical stair case in our own lives
    Talking of kids, one of the funniest was with my teenage dau years ago. She was angry and hitting me. I grabbed a pillow to defend myself, she got angrier, so I gave her a pillow and we went for each other and one pillow broke !!! we couldnt see ea other for feathers and bits of pillow. We ended up laughing and crying and pretnding we were in a snow storm.

  4. I really enjoyed by watching this video. Thanks for sharing this.This types of advertising campaign show about that how much you are innovative. I am sure hat this research project will definitely elevate fun to a design principle.This article made me too think a lot.

  5. This post is fun.
    Does anyone have proposals for eliminating our aversions to the above nine tasks?
    The examples in the videos involved incongruous sounds: departures from expectation.
    When we get used to them, the impact is lost, of course. Children, though, love repetition.

  6. Encouraged by rumours of Government fun-ding, I propose the following.

    Ideally, Mr Crotchety for everyone if he reads this, but failing that –

    A tax return which emits a sigh very time a page is turned.
    A funny noise every time a judge sits down or stands up.
    A stethoscope that makes a kissing sound.
    A cheer on every arrival at the airport.
    “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” played at every recycling station (a British perspective).
    Light switches which giggle helplessly when switched off – water taps (fawcets) which call “Cooey” every thirty seconds – if there are no children carried, motor cars demanding “Why aren’t we there yet” every mile.

    Cigarette lighters that cough.
    The sound of broken glass when a bottle’s opened (not sure about this one perhaps Government should concentrate on plastic bottle design)

    A measure of gin in every soft drink for those hard-worked public servants who parry grant applications.

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