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Wednesday 6 June 2012

6: gamification #blogjune

Today's free association generator goes 6 > dice > gaming > gamification.

I'm simultaneously enthusiastic about and sceptical of gamification.

On the one hand, it works: offer people the chance to earn points, even if the points are absolutely meaningless, and many (not, mind you, all) will be keen to amass them. Add in team spirit and/or actual prizes and many more (though still not all) will jump on the bandwagon. If you want to get people to do something, then telling them it's a game is a great way to do it, with a pedigree no doubt much longer than the obvious fictional example.

On the other hand, is it our job to get people to do things they wouldn't otherwise want to do, or is it our job to help them do things they do want to do? If every reader should have their book according to their own needs (and not the ones they don't need), surely every library user should get the services and skills they need rather than having to accrue them all in order to compete with the Joneses?

And on the gripping hand, wouldn't it be a lot more productive to gamify proofreading of our OCR'd digitisation projects (as does the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program) instead of gamifying checking in to the reference department?

I suppose like everything it depends on the user group, the skills, and the game in question. So I'm particularly curious to hear from readers on this one: do you know of some examples of gamification in libraries (whether an extended thing like Lemontree, or a one-off like a treasure hunt or some other competition) that have been demonstrably useful not just to the library's statistics sheets but also to the users' lives?