Instant Ideas and Collaboration

Summary 17th November – Games and Gamification in Libraries


Q1:  What does gamification mean?

  • Making games of tasks users have to do for promotional/user experience reasons
  • Basically game features (levelling up, grinding, quests, achievement etc) added to every day situations.
  • Making real life tasks seem like a game
  • It is a term that is used about shop loyalty cards
  • Gamification = introducing game mechanics into everyday situations, behaviour patterns etc.
  • Game= using library assets or content in a game.
  • Post by Brian Herzog about gamifying library fines  http://t.co/LY78bAq3
  • http://t.co/LkqfvbOW :  Post that talking about game design criteria, and application to libraries

Questions  raised:

  • Does it only mean computer games?
  • Can the six book challenge be considered gamification of reading experience?
  • Does the carel press reading game count as gamification? –  @call_me_cathy posted a step by step on how to set up this game http://t.co/UXUH5dAN


Q2: Have you heard of any projects bringing libraries and gamification  together?

(some of the replies may be more about games rather than gamification)

  • Nanowrimo ,  novel writing in a month could count.  Some school libraries have hosted it.
  • Using Scrivener makes  Nanowrimo seem like a game with project target bars. If you set goals there is a bar that changes colour as you get closer to your goal.

More info on Scrivener:  http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php


Q3: What role do you think games/gamification can play in a library setting?

  • Gamification can eb used to get tasks done (e.g crowdsourcing, tagging etc.);  it can be used to make library ‘tasks’ more fun. But it is also easy to do badly.  At worst it is basically giving out points or achievements like loyalty cards or airmiles.
  • Giving out points may be the most unimaginative, but may be the easiest/cheapest to implement and most accessible?
  • How the gamification is packaged is important to sell it. Humour works.
  • QR codes can be used to add a virtual layer to the physical objects in libraries. Gaming context can be created.  Example: find right QR codes from clues, add sound/animation.  QR codes have been used in treasure hunt as part of library introduction [?]
  • Games are often used for treasure hunts. Example the Cephalonian method has a ‘game’ feel to it. http://www.sconul.ac.uk/publications/newsletter/32/2.pdf

From Wikipedia: “the method consists of giving the students at a library orientation class cards with prepared questions they are to ask during the session for the instructor to answer”

  • http://www.sconul.ac.uk/publications/newsletter/40/21.pdf – overview of library induction methods
  • School libraries are about people. Games are important, but it’s about the actual human interaction.
  • It could be fun to run a scavenger hunt in libraries a la New York Public Library : http://game.nypl.org/#home
  • Gamification and gaming in libraries are different things and both have their place.
  • A concern with gamification is that it can become patronising/gimmicky to users who just want to get on with their work.
  • There are students who would see libraries as a quiet place to get work done.
  • There are also many students who never go to the library for work,  so maybe just getting them through the door (by providing ‘fun’ things) could break the barrier.
  • Reaching new users whilst still looking after the old has to be carefully balanced.
  • @gamecentralIWM is working with Library of Birmingham on creating  a gaming experience for users for the launch in 2013  http://libraryblog.birmingham.gov.uk/2011/11/pitch-opportunity/
  • Academic libraries are using SCVNGR (scavenger hunt on mobiles) : http://t.co/o8vhYN7x
  • Giant connect four is a success at one library


Q4: Does gaming have to be digital?

  • No
  • Offline meetings can be used to support online activities, or vice versa
  • Libraries could reach out e.g to  Dungeons and Dragrons gamers and offer space. This could be used to support a special collection, use books as references. Libraries could stock rule books.
  • Some college libraries offer jigsaws for stressed students!
  • Yu-Gi-Oh is very popular in the public library that @calire works in.
  • There are books that were ‘choose your own adventure/fighting fantasy’ . This is reading and playing. Some are now being reissued on iphone/ipad: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/steve-jacksons-sorcery!-the/id358760776?mt=8
  • There’s a boardgame cafe in Toronto with a huge collection of games, that are ‘catalogued’ www.Snakesandlattes.com/#games   [What a cute name!]


Q5: How do you promote it to users? What should libraries be wary of?

  • Maybe use the libraries out of hours, so core users will get more time due to the promotion. (but there’d be staffing costs to consider)
  • E-media and posters etc would be great for spreading the word, but maybe avoid taking up physical library space.

Q6:  Why use gaming?

Skipped as covered in previous questions.


Q7: Do any eReaders other than Kobo use gamification?

[Question remained unanswered, if you have an example, feel free to post in comments page!]


Q8: Is gamification a good idea? Would you want it at your library for users/you?

  • “The biggest complaint we get in the library is noise levels. If that can be kept down for our existing users I’m in!”
  • “I like the idea, and would like to try it out. But I really don’t think it would go down well with lib committee at current job!
  • “We like to think that gamification is a means to an end, its one small step towards making libraries more attractive ‘now’
  • “I’d love to see it! But I think pub libraries would need to first see evidence that it increased user stats. Also, costs??”
  • “collection is a compelling mechanic! And there’s something nice about a tangible reward there”

More links that were added to the agenda setting document:

http://paper.li/MoriasEnkomion/1319929422 lots of articles on gamification.

http://libcampuk11.wikispaces.com/Session+notes   – scroll to the notes for the games and gamification session that occured during library camp uk 2011



http://www.readingagency.org.uk/adults/reading-for-gaming/ are two recent reports produced on the subject of using digital games to engage adults with low literacy in reading for pleasure:

Gaming for Reading (June 2010) – you’ll also find a film at www.youtube.com/readingagency of our roundtable discussion
Game On (October 2011)

http://www.chartergames.co.uk/   <–This website looks to sell/rent games to libraries


I would like to thank everyone who took part and contributed to the twitter session!

@agentk23 (Ka-Ming Pang)







About Ka-Ming

Librarian at a University in London and one of the founding members of uklibchat.wordpress.com Find me @agentk23

One comment on “Summary 17th November – Games and Gamification in Libraries

  1. Pingback: A little knowledge… « LibWig

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2011 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged , , , , , .


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