LBS 850 – Week 7 Gamification

I just read an excellent article about “Gamification” of literature, Reading and “Gamification” Joining Guilds, Earning Badges, and Leveling Up, by Marianne Martens (h). In it, Martens focuses extensively on books with interactive elements and goes over the strengths (motivates reluctant readers, are often special education friendly, and basically is where the kids want to be) and weakness (poorly-designed interaction actually hurting student attention, getting kids so focused on the rewards that the reading stops when the reward stops, and the potential for “exploitationware” {a term brought up by Ian Bogost, Georgia Institute of Technology}) of the medium.

I really think the line between books and games will continue to blur. Eventually, the line won’t exist. Sure, there’ll be books without games and games without stories (Tetris-type games), but eventually there will be so much overlap that we might end up having video game systems in the libraries to tell stores. Who knows?

One cool idea I took from the article that could apply to libraries is to gamify the library. By making games of reading books through assigning points, making levels, giving rewards, etc, we can encourage library use. I have this vision of a web site that tracks books folks have read, assigning points and having a leaderboard and other motivating ideas. Thinking specifically of my school, we could assign points based on book length and lexile level, and let students earn a percentage of those points by taking Accelerated Reader exams (to ensure that the books have actually been read). We could even have a “Test off” or something where every Monday after school, we have AR exams for kids in the clubs and they can compete directly with each other. I could see a LOT of kids getting on-board with this concept, especially if we built a web site that had profiles, listed books they’d read, badges they’d earned, etc.

There are other ways to gamifiy a library program, such as turning a summer reading program into a Monopoly game, where students earned game cards for books they read. Another interesting one was ClassCraft, which is for classes but could probably be tweaked for libraries.

Of course, there are potential drawbacks to Gamification, the key drawback being the potential that it focuses the students on the prize instead of reading for its own sake. We face the potential to remove the intrinsic value of reading to kids, which could be a huge deal.

Comments are closed.