In the same vein as sites like Rypple and Chromarama, the Email Game seeks to gamify something both everyday and routine: in this case, your email. It seeks more to improve your performance than simply make it enjoyable. In fact, they promise it will improve your performance to the point where you read through your incoming mail 40% faster.
The email game is a website that imports your inbox (gmail for free, outlook/exchange/other corporate solutions for a fee) and totally changes the way that you interact with your incoming mail. It removes distractions, adding the stick of a countdown timer and the carrot of points for completing various actions on an email. Rather than flitting about your inbox like the disaffected millennial you are, the email game forces you to look at only one email at a time. It hides everything about the rest of your inbox from you, except how many you have left to read. When you open the one email you are allowed to focus on, a timer in the upper left corner begins counting down.
The time allotted is procedurally generated, so your long-winded manager won’t put you at a disadvantage. It does encourage decisive decision-making, though; before the timer runs out, you must finish reading and choose one of the options on their pared-down interface: reply, delete, archive, or “boomerang,” which returns the email to your inbox after any length of time you would like, be it a few hours or a month. If you choose to reply, you get another timer. It is 3 minutes by default, but you can add time freely. For some reason, even knowing that, the ticking clock still gives a sense of urgency.
I gave it a go through my inbox. I feel like it would be beneficial; it really did remove the distraction the other subject lines of your inbox create within your email application, and the timer prevents wandering outside of it. The points do feel rather arbitrary, especially with no social component to compare scores. Of course, were that the case, the power gamer in me imagines singing up for a multitude email newsletters I can happily delete at first sight and dominate the leaderboard. I found that the progress bar, filling as you read each new email and showing you how many remain, was a more fulfilling motivator.
All in all, it seems a wonderful training tool for the easily distracted and frequently vacillating–and when it comes to email, this is most of us. It feels a little more like training wheels or a learning program than a completely viable alternative email system, though. Whereas one can see a company switching exclusively to Rypple for its feedback, the email game seems like something everyone would be put on for a few weeks before they are allowed back into Outlook, hopefully continuing the good habits they had acquired.