How Aikido Taught me Games and Gamification will Change the World

How Aikido Taught me Games and Gamification will Change the World


The Following is a Guest Post from Nhat Vuong, Founder/CEO at i-kifu, a gamified crowdfunding platform for social causes. 

Lessons Learned from Aikido on the Impact of Games

The world is full of issues that we ought to solve. For decades, we have tried to fight hunger, eradicate polio as well as HIV/AIDS, protect the environment and our ecosystem – but somehow final victory always seems to get further and further away. Why is it that in 2013, with all the knowledge, technologies and resources that we possess, we are still struggling to create a better place for the whole world?

I believe that the main reason why we haven’t been able to eradicate global issues is because we have not worked together to solve them at a global level. If every citizen in the world would start taking one good action every day, I believe the world would be a vastly different place. Realistically, this is not going to happen soon because the majority of people are distracted every day. Shopping, watching the latest TV drama, the most popular reality show or learning about celebrities’ private life have taken over important matters, like compassion or empathy for others.

So how can we wake people up and make them interested in contributing to society?

Flickr Image by
Flickr Image by javerenjapon

I believe there is something to learn from Aikido. Aikido is a Japanese martial art that teaches you that even if your opponent is stronger than you, there is a way for you to win. Asking everyone to stop what they are doing and start contributing to society sounds as difficult as making a taller and bigger person fall down. However, Aikido would teach you that the way to achieve this is not to push back the opponent as he tries to push you, but to instead follow his movement until the very last second. At this crucial point, you would step aside and push him on the back to watch him fall.

What we can learn from Aikido is that if we want people to come with us with the least resistance, we need to go with their flow at the beginning and then adjust their energy towards the intended direction. So, when people want to be entertained and have fun, we must let them have it. Let us build the products, the services, the food, and the games that they will enjoy, and use part of their spending and redirect it towards the good of society.

Currently, more than 500 million people are playing games more than 30 billion hours every week worldwide, and this number is growing everyday. I believe that we can find a way to use games to raise awareness about global issues and find a way to harvest the desire to change the world from all players. By making the process of contributing to society more fun and rewarding, we have a real opportunity to make a big difference together.

The more games we create, the more players there will be, and just like Jane McGonigal, I believe that there is much more to be done in this arena. If people are looking for ways to wake people up, I believe that games will be able to play a major role precisely because of their “addictive” nature.

For the last 2 years I have been spreading the idea that we should gamify the way we make social contributions at events like TEDxTokyoChange 2013, that we should make the process fun, challenging, surprising, interesting and rewarding. We should provide people with different tools and channels, like the internet, mobile phones and real life actions, that they can use to act and track other’s social activities as well as measure their own efforts. In doing so, these tools can make people feel good about their contributions and reinforce their motivation to do more.

This is what we aim to accomplish with our crowdfunding platform at Though we are still at a very early stage of development, we hope to attract people with the same vision to help us better gamify in order to increase social contributions

Cover Image by n.blind


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  1. As Kendo shodan I liked a lot the idea of mixing the first human gamification component uses (martial arts leveling) and social crowdfunding but in TEDxTokyo speech I saw only a little evolution of McGonigal’s idea nobody grounded yet. Most similar proposal: m.paani: