Last week, I went to some meetup, and I met someone that was looking to make a game out of doing things in real life. It's not really a new concept, but I don't think people really understood it until recently with foursquare and gowalla.
Mobtropolis was suppose to be something that improved your life experiences as you got better at the game. But My execution sucked, and I didn't know where to find users. But like someone said to me, just because you wandered around in the desert doesn't mean you found the treasure. Lots of other people wandered there, you just don't know about it--I mean, how many people knew about Mobtropolis?
Anyway, it was good to hear about people interested in gaming mechanics in applications. I don't think there are hardly any games that were hard to figure out how to use it. It may be that games copy each other a lot, or because it's because I was persistent as a teen gamer.
If you're interested in game mechanics in applications, here's a round up. We can start with Amy Jo Kim with "Putting the fun in functional"
here are her slides:
However, just because you put points on something isn't quite enough to motivate people to do things in real life. I think it'd do you well to play more games to figure out what's fun. Here's another oldie, but goodie about the theory of fun.