Fact: there are zero enjoyable games in the world that lack an element of challenge.
Also fact: there are few challenges in the world that can’t be enjoyed as games.
I don’t like long checkout lines, for instance, but I do enjoy the game of choosing which lines will go fastest. Should I go to the express line that has more people? Or should I stay line in line behind this one lady who has an overflowing cart and a purse full of coupons? Which part of the transaction of buying groceries will take longest?
The guessing and the figuring out are mental challenges that (almost) cut out the frustration of waiting.
Crowds can similarly be gamified.
Yesterday I was running a 10K and wanted to go fast. I also happened to be in a race with nearly 40,000 other runners. There was no simple way to pass – oftentimes people’s idea of what was decent to do in the passing left lane (i.e. walking, or even stopping and stretching) didn’t jive with my need for speed.
This challenge added to my enjoyment of the race.
I picked up on little tactics, like rushing through the gap created by water stations. I weaved and dodged among the crowd. I took advantage of turns. I was running at nearly full speed throughout, so my mind was on alert to avoid running people down. This focus and alertness and challenge made the run all the more enjoyable.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, 1) be proactive about making it better and 2) as you would in any game, find delight in the creative problem-solving process. You might come to get something even from frustrating situations like these.