For the last year, gamification has been on an accelerated hype/hope/backlash/spin cycle. If you believe the buzz (and you mostly shouldn’t), there’s not much in life — from boring business tasks to retail “experiences” to sex — that can’t be improved by adding a leaderboard and levels. Ok, I’m exaggerating and it would be a waste to dismiss the benefits of thoughtful game mechanics and, well, fun, when it’s appropriate and well-applied. So with that in mind, here are a few gamification apps that are smart ideas and might be useful, if you need the kind of nudge that some friendly competition (even with just yourself) can provide: Epic Win: One of the first productivity apps I encountered that uses simple game mechanics to make daily responsibilities a bit more enjoyable. You create an avatar that wins points by completing chores like doing laundry, managing your email, cleaning the house, or sending a birthday card. SuperBetter: Co-created by mediagenic gamification expert Jane McGonigal, SuperBetter is a customizable tool “to help build personal resilience: the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of difficult challenges.” FavorTree: Now in development, FavorTree is an app for “and paying (playing) it forward” with goods and services to benefit your community. Loan your textbooks. Help a neighbor with his garden. The more you do, the more points you can trade for help when you need it. Co-developed by sharing economy pioneer Micki Krimmel of Neighborgoods, FavorTree is one to watch. Fitocracy: From office diet contests to pick-up basketball to Nike + iPod, games have always been a physical fitness has always been a natural fit for a bit of friendly competition. Fitocracy is a log for your exercise activity with opportunities to earn points and “level up.” The system provides additional “quests” that combine activities into sets for additional points. And the whole thing is wrapped in a social network so users can help each other with guidance, encouragement, and of course challenges.