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The Future of Gamification in Libraryland

Presented as part of the fulfillment of the course requirements for Prof. Scott Nicholson's Meaningful Gamification class.
by

Loranne Nasir

on 10 January 2013

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Transcript of The Future of Gamification in Libraryland

Libraries are no longer book warehouses. The modern library is a community center, offering services and programs beyond the written word. As one of the few places that welcome and serve users of many demographics in one location, the library world is ripe for gamifying. Players are no longer just entering the library: they are engaging in a multifaceted library experience. Instead of changing the way users can access library materials, new gamification systems should ALLOW players to decide whether they want to change the way they interact with EVERYTHING at the library (or some things, or nothing!).

The library is a choose-your-own-adventure environment already. To add gaming elements on top of this merely requires the restraint to realize that, in the long run, the player's autonomy is more important than making sure all library users engage with the game.* Having autonomy means allowing the player to have some say in the outcome of their experience--they have Choice: one of the key ingredients in our RECIPE.

The gamification system must be customizable and multi-platform. There should be an online element to it (integration with a service like Goodreads, for example), but, for PCs who find the digital world uncomfortable, there must also be a physical way to implement the game, sans computers.

In cycles, to be determined by the library/community schedule, libraries will be able to hold a tournament/extravaganza where players of all ages can come together to show off their accomplishments and engage with each other and the game. Prizes that are community specific (restaurant gift cards, etc.) can be awarded, making local businesses winners, too. Bridging the Gap High Hopes BOSS FIGHT Loot Play It's all about
SETTING & CHARACTER Many existing gamification systems have a gimmick--a hook used to lure players in and encourage onboarding. Libraries don't need to succumb to this trend, because they already have a somewhat captive audience. In this case, the gimmick isn't about freebies or "winning", but rather having more fun at the library!

Our Exposition ingredient is at the real heart of what the library stands to gain from adding a gamified layer to their experience. Discovery is a problem in libraries--the quest to help users discover new material or resources they need is unending. Gamification can provide a solution.

Given a character, or avatar, and the alternate reality in which the player's hunt for information is framed a quest for which they will be rewarded upon completion, the library can kick off the experience with a dash of external motivation, to help get the player started. Worries Players will be rewarded for their participation through some of our old friends: the elements of BLAP gamification.

Achievements will be determined and awarded by all participants in a given program. For example: if the library hosts a knitting club or class (as many do), the players in that class will be encouraged (but not required) to award personalized achievements to their fellow PCs for their accomplishments in that class.

Badges will come from just about any activity you can imagine within the library: logging onto the Internet at library computers; using the catalog; scanning a book at a self-checkout station; as well as participation in library programs (like the aforementioned knitting class). The Future of Gamification
in Libraryland by Loranne Nasir One of the best ideas motivating the argument in favor of gamification is that the player's ability to overcome obstacles in-game will inspire them to test themselves at obstacles in real life that they might otherwise find too daunting. The ability or at least potential to overcome a real obstacle lends intrinsic motivation to the game. Ideas Ideals What concerns me most about adding these gamified systems to libraries is twofold: The ultimate gamified system in a library is many things, primarily pulling from successes seen in Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and Role Playing Games (RPGs). ARGs allow the player to operate in a new or slightly modified context, a new SETTING. This lends to the potential for exploration, which is a key aspect of play. RPGs allow the player to take the role of a new persona. In video games, this character is frequently based on the player's ideal of themselves as a hero. * By which I mean: engaging with this game MUST be OPTIONAL. It is important to remember that all libraries are unique, and, while I'm taking a universal approach (hence the sweeping generalizations regarding game specifics) to my ideas for the future of gamification in libraries, how a gamified system works in any given library greatly depends upon and varies according to the community that library serves. We have already seen this happen with Facebook and Google. While libraries may not necessarily become the new home for targeted advertizing, the question of what they will do with players' data and the ethics behind that decision are troublesome. Law enforcement has already tried to find ways of accessing readers' history through library records, and the game layer stands to add even more to possible "utility" in accessing that information. It is an issue that will need to be addressed at each library, and will probably make its way into the legislature either at the state or national level at some point. 2) The temptation to find ways to monetize that data—especially as the amount is always growing and some libraries struggle with funding—may prove too strong.
1) Libraries will have access to a lot of personal data about each player. Attaching the gamified elements to pre-formed groups based around interests and programs also makes the incorporation of Reflection into our RECIPE easier. As we discussed in class, a level of trust is necessary to achieve meaningful reflections, and PCs with something in common will already have that, based upon their respect for one another as not just fellow players, but fellow music or gardening enthusiasts. Not only is reflection possible during the tournament/festival described earlier, but constantly having a time to check-in and talk with players with whom they have something in common will allow for and encourage spontaneous reflection, as well. How is this useful in Real Life? GAME OVER ON
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