We Need a Better Game

Discussion in 'Rebooting - Porn Addiction Recovery' started by Meshuga, Mar 18, 2023.

  1. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    Liftoff, the better game, is HERE

    NoFap was founded in 2011 by Alexander Rhodes, partially in attempt to "gameify" quitting PMO. This was accomplished rather simplistically by merely counting "clean" days in a row, which we refer to as our "streak." It is now 2023, over a decade from when the concept began. The games and challenges continue to reflect that simple concept. The challenges almost universally present an overlay of a specific fandom or other cultural concept, such as the Matrix, U.S. Politics, Naruto, etm., with varying degrees of applicability in metaphor and in "rewards" as we compile a strong of abstinent days. The two exceptions I have found is "NoFap Duels," which strips the aesthetic of a narrative and simply pits addicts against one another in a contest to see who can maintain a streak longer, and the Harry Potter challenge, which allows participants to choose "houses" and make a team effort to compile clean days. This PvP aspect is interesting, but still maintains that unsophisticated concept; days clean = power, or progress.

    Many of us laymen have learned what psychologists always did, that addiction is far more complicated than merely abstaining for extended periods of time. Addiction recovery is about identifying and resolving the psychological wounds that cause the addiction in the first place, and constructing robust habits, developing strategies, and reorienting our mindset, to protect ourselves against unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Clean days are easily quantified, and they are not wholly useless. AA counts clean time and awards chips to the successful, as an example, but equating addiction recovery with simple clean days does not reflect the complexity of this deep psychological problem, nor does it appreciate the stakes involved. Even worse, it makes the early stages of recovery more difficult as it provides an illusion that a single reset, or "relapse" as we nearly always incorrectly refer to them, completely erases all progress. At bare minimum, we need to track percentage of days clean, and/or times we PMO, to break the misconception that it's okay to binge after a minor slip. I know the lie is easy to see from a rational perspective, but addiction is not rational. Addiction takes advantage of any half-baked loophole to protect itself; any addict committed to recovery knows this on a profound, intimate level. We need better tools, a better game to more accurately reflect addiction, and better milestones to accurately depict what needs to be done in order to defeat it.

    Game design is harder than first appears. The mechanics need to be simple, so they are easy to learn and manage, but complex enough to maintain interest, and allow for differences in strategy. It needs to do this while remaining entertaining. The challenges are different for us, as we have the added requirement to design a game with direct, accurate correlation to real world milestones, and entertainment necessarily takes a back seat to practicality. I think the stakes are felt by most addicts, we don't need to trick them to keep them engaged. But the need for an elegant solution, sitting in a sweet spot between simplicity and complexity, is still required. If we make it too complex, too "fiddly," as board gamers sometimes refer to dense game mechanics, there will be too steep of a learning curve and it will be too difficult for the game moderator to maintain. However, we need a game that accurately incentivizes behaviors that lead to addiction recovery, and that will be difficult, especially as there is still not a consensus, even among professionals, on exactly what those behaviors are, and the contribution each individual behavior has toward overall recovery.

    That said, nearly anything is better than what we have currently. If I could use board games as an example, strictly counting days is a rough equivalent to "Chutes and Ladders" or "Candy Land." Fun enough as a small kid when counting and identifying colors are a challenge, but around eight years old you see that winning is totally randomized. We know addiction recovery is not randomized, but might as well be if counting days is your only strategy. "Monopoly" is a better game. That one gives you opportunities to make decisions, and influence the outcome. However, it is notoriously complicated and not fun, as it was never designed to be fun, but to expose the inherent unfairness of Capitalism. It's still random. Addiction recovery is not. "Settlers of Catan" is better than "Monopoly," as the rules are simpler and is less (but still) reliant on dice, but what we really need is something more along the lines of the newer, lesser known but infinitely better games like "Wingspan," "Galaxy Trucker," "Quarriors," or "Pandemic," cooperative games, and/or engine builders that incentivize constructing a sophisticated strategy toward addiction recovery into our real world lifestyles, one that we as addicts have more control over, and provides no excuses on "bad dice rolls" or "unavoidable triggers" in real life.

    My first thought was to construct an RPG, perhaps with a Sword and Sorcery motif similar to D&D. It could allow addicts/players to correlate good behaviors and strategies for addiction recovery, such as reflective journaling, exercising, good dietary and sleeping practices, with studying spells, weapons training, and... good dietary and sleeping practices. Identifying a trigger could be equated with learning what a troll or goblin is, and establishing a strategy for avoiding those triggers as learning how to step around the goblin nest or the troll cave. Surviving an encounter with an unavoidable trigger without PMO as surviving combat without dying; "You are alive, but you were cut and wounded. Consider taking time to rest, and be extra vigilant about those encounters over the next couple of days. But you do get XP, huzzah." The problem with this idea is, like any TTRPG, it's intensely fiddly. You can't play without a GM, for instance, which would mean your personalized game would need a personalized coach or Accountability Partner, and like a TTRPG, the quality in recovery experience would be too reliant on the quality of that AP. It also requires accurate reporting on behalf of the addict, and that can lead to inaccuracies as addicts are, shall we say, not in the best position to reliably self-report. Gaining self-awareness is one of those skills that need to be developed. It needs to be a skill that is incentivized to learn, if possible, not a built-in requirement to play the game in the first place.

    If anyone else has better ideas, you have my undivided attention. Am I even on the right track? Old guard residents, @Roady , @EagleRising , @IGY , @Jefe Rojo , @JoeinUSA , @Bob_the_Rebuilder , and you challenge enthusiasts, @Thadeus Tuffington , @Red_John , @HiddenWarrior , @RiseToGreatness , @Marcus Aurelius , @LLOYYD , @RogueLeader , what do you think about building a better game?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2023
  2. IGY

    IGY Fapstronaut
    NoFap Defender

    I have no better ideas, sorry.
    Meshuga likes this.
  3. @Meshuga, I have thought many of the same thoughts you posted on. My opinion of the day counter is that it is more of a sign of how things are going, but trying to extend your streak requires you to learn and grow. To change the reasons behind the resets / relapses.

    I have thought about a new game as well. But every time I think of something I end up realizing that what I’ve thought up is too complicated or would require a lot of someone’s time to maintain. I haven’t given up yet - and I really like some of the ideas you have come up with. There needs to be some sort of reward system for making positive changes in our lives. Maybe setting and reaching concurrent goals of health and mental wellness could be rewarded. Perhaps if a group of us could team together and manage the game, it wouldn’t be as daunting to maintain.

    I’ve created a few challenges here on NoFap. But they’re always related to chasing a streak or going a certain number of days. I’ve discovered that doing this only triggers my perfectionism and makes it so I end up bingeing after relapse.

    Should the game be competitive? It’s hard to want to cheer others / offer support if I am trying to beat them. But that can also be fun, too.

    I think you’re on to something though. We need a new measuring stick. Something that helps us measure progress as people. Are we meeting our personal goals? Are we progressing toward a better life - one that helps us leave the need for PMO behind?

    Let’s keep this discussion up and come up with something epic.
  4. I know what has worked for me, to this day.
    That's it actually.
    Revanthegrey likes this.
  5. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    No worries, man. This is a complicated problem, I don't expect a working model to be produced overnight.
    I think the nature of addiction is ultimately PvE, Player, on this case Addict, against Environment. In the end it isn't a co-op game, either. Much as I love the idea of team effort and a group win, there is no possible way for an addict to be carried to victory. Support is invaluable, but ultimately, this is a battle only an addict can fight and win. That said, competing "against" others to get more gains is instinctive, and if we're competing against one another, as long as we do it through our own progress and not sabotaging our "competition," we all win. It's more of a "beat the game faster than you," than an "I beat you" kind of thing.
    Many video games reward players with titles, perks, and vanity items for engaging in various activities. NoFap already sort of does this, with "trophies" for making posts and attracting "likes." Theoretically this incentivizes high quality posts, but that's about being a forum member, not fighting addiction.

    First, we need to scour the forums and identify the key behaviors that most often lead to recovery. One of the biggest problems, however, is lack of consensus. NoFap itself is reluctant to say what is the most effective behaviors. For example, I believe it is important to replace the incoming dopamine lost by refusing to fap, by a different, more positive means such as exercise. Others believe it is better to "fast" dopamine. We could offer an incentive for exercising daily, but is that the best policy? Is it even important? Another is having real world sex. I personally believe it's best to avoid casual sex at all times, and even sex with your spouse can be detrimental if done too early, or for the wrong reasons. Exactly how early is "too early," though, and how can anyone know if the reasoning is solid? And many believe my view is too sex-negative, and unnecessarily restrictive.

    Maybe that needs to be tabled for the moment. We may need to develop a reward system that can be easily implemented, then plug in different behaviors to reward according the the philosophy of the person creating the game. Like, come up with a module.
    Jefe Rojo likes this.
  6. LostSon267

    LostSon267 Fapstronaut

    Does this site often get updates. It feels like it's really old and the developers/moderators are just maintaining the thousands of people here without actively trying to develop it. This site is a movement in itself, I feel like it shouldn't be treated like a dead minecraft server.....

    Also, your idea of an RPG is cool, but I'm thinking that all people would do is find loopholes just to achieve status and rewards. And I think it's best for people to spend less time online.

    In my opinion this site should add spreadsheet/percentage/slip-up counters that incentivize more change. It just feels like this site needs a bigger group of people working on updates.
    SilentWolfSong, Ank07 and Meshuga like this.
  7. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    They kind of do already. We have these counters, for example. We can set them to merely "achieving my goals" and people still cheat. In the end, recovery is the goal and it's on you.
    That would be a far better tool than a mere counter, and that is super basic. We don't have that, though.
    Who is going to pay them? It's mostly volunteer work, my friend, and we get what we pay for. We have to be the change we wish to see, using the tools we have.
    That could be something to incentivize in a game, honestly. Quitting porn is the goal, but it's a complicated process requiring a lot of smaller changes, a lot of steps. I was considering awarding points for journaling, for reading a book, for working out, for disclosing to a partner. Reducing time online would be an excellent piece to the whole, but that is complicated to track and, like you said, people will cheat.
    What is it? I don't understand.

    Maybe baby steps are in order. Maybe another challenge similar to what we already have is needed, only instead of tracking a simple streak, we record days spent quitting, and percentage of clean days for calculating progress. That way, people don't feel like a slip is losing everything. We could also count individual P, M, and O. An addict fantasizes a bit, well that's not ideal so he loses points, but he loses more if he jerks it, and even more if he completes, and even more if he says "fck it, I'm already at 0, might as well do it a few more times to get my fun in before I start all over again," which we all know is terrible for recovery and does happen, in part because of how we track recovery.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
  8. I like this idea. We should aim for percentage of clean days, that way we are not overly focusing on perfection, but focusing more on progress.

    Maybe we do something like this:


    Level 1 - Pre-launch sequence: Players who have 0-10 points - (you have 10 days once you start playing to reach level 2 or you must abort the mission)
    Level 2 - Liftoff: Players who have 11-21 points - (you have 10 days once you reach this level to reach level 3 or you run out of fuel)
    Level 3 - Stage 1 engine full power: Players who have 22-50 points (you have 20 days once you have reached this level to reach level 4 or you run out of fuel)
    Level 4 - Stage 2 rocket boosters full power: 51 - 100 (you have 30 days once you have reached this level to reach level 5 or you run out of fuel)
    Level 5 - Enter Stratosphere: 101 - 200 (you have 40 days once you have reached this level to reach level 6 or you run out of fuel)
    Level 6 - Outer Space: 201 - 300 (you have 40 days once you have reached this level to reach level 7 or you run out of fuel)
    Level 7 - Release Payload: 301 - 400 (you have 30 days once you have reached this level to reach level 8 or you are hopelessly lost in space forever)
    Level 8 - Deliver Payload: 401 - 450 (you have 10 days once you have reached this level to reach level 9 or you are hopelessly lost in space forever)
    Level 9 - Activate Payload: 451 - 499 (you have 10 days once you have reached this level to reach level 10 or you lose communication with the payload)
    Level 10 - Mission Completed: 500

    Bad/Clean Day ratio. For every day that your percentage is a certain amount, you get points. The higher the percentage, the faster the points multiply.
    • Stay above 85% clean days = 1 point per day (this would allow for one bad day in 7)
    • Stay above 92% clean days = 2 points per day (this would allow for one bad day in 14)
    • Stay above 97% clean days = 3 points per day (this would allow for one bad day in 33)
    You could also get points for:
    • Journaling on Nofap: 1 point per day
    • Exercising: 2 points per day
    • Eating healthy: 2 point per day
    We could also subtract points for negative actions like this:
    • P = -5 points (per viewing episode)
    • M (including edging) = -10 points (per episode)
    • O = -15 points (per episode) - exception is that you can O during normal healthy sex. Wet dreams / nocturnal emissions don’t count against you.
    So theoretically if someone did a full PMO, they would lose 20 points! If they stop themselves at any point, they minimize damage. If they binge, it hurts even worse. Also, you can't go below 0.

    So the more these negative actions happen, the more damaging it will be to your score, which should help incentivize people to not binge / escalate.

    People would be required to check in each day and state:
    1. How many points they gained that day and how they gained the points.
    2. How many points they lost that day and how they lost the points.
    3. How many points they have
    4. What level they are on and how many more days they have to level up before it's too late.

    I believe that with these rules, a person could still have slip ups and still be able to complete the mission. They would need to minimize the damage, not binge, and do extra work in order to make up for any lost points. The upper levels get more and more difficult, but are doable.

    This is just an idea. I am open to suggestions on how we could improve it.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
  9. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    That's an amazing system, way better than anything we have. More detailed than what I was thinking of. Should we beta test it? Seems like this could have a learning curve for the scoring system, and would probably need to be tweaked, but sophisticated enough to quantify a genuine recovery.
    Ank07 and Revanthegrey like this.
  10. I think there are other levels beside Level 10 = 500 Days.

    There is the 1000 Days and the 1500 Days; Which I believe is the Final Part of which a person could say he did indeed quiet for good, and of course a porn free life is a life long process, keep that in mind.
  11. I have a few more tweaks to make and then we can beta test it
  12. LostSon267

    LostSon267 Fapstronaut

    Very good idea my problem with this is its heavily complicated. I feel like only the most engaged members of this site would use it like that. Just my opinion tho. Maybe tweak and condense it to be a little more simple? Generally I like everything about it. I would do it, idk if something like that would catch on tho.
    Ank07 and Jefe Rojo like this.
  13. I think I would want to keep it to 500 points so that the game doesn’t take too long to win. Maybe have different missions that people can do if they are interested. 500 points could take several weeks to accomplish.
    Ank07 and Meshuga like this.
  14. Thanks for your input. Yeah, I don’t want to make it overly complicated. I’ll revise it a bit and submit the next iteration for everyone’s input. Maybe I’ll reduce the number of levels.
  15. LostSon267

    LostSon267 Fapstronaut

    Also two more things:

    1. I think getting points for "Eating Healthy" can be kind of subjective and vary a lot, maybe it can be based on meeting one's own dietary goals tho.

    2. Instead of a percentage of clean days contributing to points. I think it would be less complicated to just award 1 point per day clean, and change the subtract points like -5 for p, -1 for M, -3 for O. Because I see P as the most critical I think it should take off the most. Maybe tweak those values based on how successful people. Then a player would be still be able to see progress unfold faster as long as they can stay away from P for like 10 days.
    Ank07, Meshuga and Jefe Rojo like this.
  16. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    Both points are valid. There should be a disclaimer at the beginning, that completing or “winning” the game doesn’t mean you are permanently “cured” any more than by achieving a 90 day streak. The aim is to get you into a much better place by the end of the game. However, completing it has to be reasonably attainable, otherwise people will never try.
    Accessibility is important, but only the most engaged members meet any kind of success in NoFap anyway. Forget the game, addiction itself is hard. This is supposed to help make it easier, by informing and incentivizing essential steps, but this is always going to be a hard game. I mean yes, it should be reasonably simple. I had been considering compiling a daily point total, then using a small, growing multiplier based on a streak. That seems like a reasonably accurate way to quantify recovery, but super complicated. This method is already better, in that respect.
    Agreed, and it’s always going to be that way. “Healthy eating” has been hotly disputed since before I was born. The rules keep changing, there’s like four super popular diets out there right now and they all conflict. Bodies are different, so what is ok for me may not be for you. It’s a good goal but ultimately the entire game has to be on the honor system, so “meeting your own dietary goals” seems hopelessly vague but the best we can do.
    And this can get down to where people fight. Quitting porn is the common goal, but there’s differences of opinion in how and what is most crucial. Even “why” can inform what we name as a score, and how heavily we weight it. For example, some guys want to quit porn because it ruins their confidence and they want to get laid, so “talk to a girl” would be a fantastic milestone to put up there. I, on the other hand, believe porn completely rearranged our priorities regarding sex, and engaging in transactional hookup culture is an extension of a pornographic mindset. I’d be more willing to place “talk to a stranger,” as a milestone over social anxiety.

    That’s where we’re going to have to be careful, set our egos aside, and come up with a consensus on what is the most generally valuable and how to weight it.
  17. Version #2:

    • +1 point for each clean day
    • +2 points for each day past 10 clean days in a row.
    • +3 points for each day past 30 clean days in a row
    • +5 points for each day of urges you get past
    • +1 points for leaving an encouraging message for another Fapstronaut
    • +1 point for posting a journal entry on NoFap
    • +2 points for meeting daily dietary goals
    • +2 for exercising
    • +3 points for not bingeing the day after a reset.

    Negative points:
    • P = -10 (per session)
    • M = -5 (per session)
    • O = -5 (per O - sex with SO is ok, nocturnal emissions ok)
    • MO = -10
    • PMO = -20
    Level 1: Pre-Launch 0-10 (you must reach Level 2 within 7 days of starting or you abort the mission)
    Level 2: Liftoff 11-50 (you must reach level 3 within 21 days of starting this level or you run out of fuel)
    Level 3: Stage 1 Separation 51 - 100 (you must reach level 4 within 21 days of starting this level or you run out of fuel)
    Level 4: Stage 2 Separation 101 - 299 (you must reach level 5 within 40 days of starting this level or you get destroyed by space debris)
    Level 5: Payload delivery 300 - 499 (you must finish the mission within 40 days of starting this level of you get hopelessly lost in space)
    Mission Accomplished: 500

    You cannot level down. If you level up and then get negative points right away so that you level back down, your rocket explodes into a fireball and it’s game over. So after you level up, you need to take the time to accumulate a cushion of points so that if negative points happen, there will be a buffer. After all, rockets can be a bit temperamental.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2023
  18. And maybe whoever finishes the challenge gets their name posted in the hall of fame and can display the following in their signature:

    Rocket missions completed: :emoji_rocket::emoji_rocket::emoji_rocket:
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2023
    Ank07 and Meshuga like this.
  19. I'm in.
  20. DeepRecovery

    DeepRecovery Fapstronaut

    I think it is worth highlighting how you outlined this, first of all that resolving the cause is a separate matter from the three criteria in the second part of the sentence to protect against unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. As far as the latter part goes, I would be interested if there are gamification ideas for reorienting mindset specifically.

    As for the cause, identifying does come before resolving and is a prerequisite. A big bottleneck from what I can tell is a large majority of people cannot seem to develop the perspective that allows them to come to an insight regarding the cause, and I feel it is almost completely futile to try to explain sometimes as people might either not recognize it at all, or even if they recognize the truth of what's pointed out by someone else it's just conceptual as it's really a completely different experience for someone to have such a realization for themselves. To be fair, in that regard it is likely many who are relatively new in a traditional 12 Step recovery system who are engaged in the power dynamic with a sponsor and have the expectation of being told what to do are also missing that experience at least in early recovery. There may be a rigorous effort at adhering to the outline of the system and the language used reinforces a certain structure, but that seems to be a matter of the protection pointed to above and not a matter of getting to the root of it. As many who have looked at multiple addiction recovery programs can probably attest to, a natural progression for many over the years seems to be going from issue specific recovery programs to more psychologically oriented ones that deals with things like codependency, family of origin and the like. Even with those people can kind of toe the party line in this superimposed way rather than using it as a lens to see the truth of the matter.

    Anyway, if anything I would think it should be pointed out that having a lot of behaviorally clean days does not equal sobriety, some do not even seem to understand the difference between the words abstinence and sobriety anymore - they literally mean two different things. Even in recovery from alcoholism it is recognized that some people may be 'dry drunks' and while they haven't touched a drink in years they may not have emotional sobriety in their relations and how they deal with life in other respects. That being the case, for anyone who wants to get to the root cause it should probably be said that it doesn't ultimately matter how good you are at any 'recovery game', including traditional recovery approaches, simply because the game level only sets up these protective structures to support the deeper work addressing the cause, but that does not guarantee a person will have done that kind of inner work.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2023
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