Gamification in the service of libraries

The new “buzzword” of the second decade of the 21st century, gamification, revitalizes the web marketing of several major companies ( Couche-Tard , Starbucks , Coke , etc. ). Can this new playful approach, mainly used for expensive purposes, have its place in public institutions such as libraries?

Gamification … what does it mean?
For the many people who have never heard of it, gamification is a process that includes games and activities that are not fun. Many consider that the first gambling product has been Air Miles cards , and nowadays, FourSquare , Senscritique , web badges, online points and serious games are all gamification strategies that are integrated into applications.

” Gamification is not a game, but an integration of playful approaches into non-fun activities ”

In summary, gamification is not a game, but a use of game-specific approaches to value a brand, a company or an organization.

In its essence, gamification tends to simplify a complex system into one or more underlying mechanisms. It is at its base, a transmission of information with other users, documents, a database, etc. which can be used to train, inform or market a product. The behavioral technique of the game is useful to help the initiation, motivation and recall of “players”.

Why should I be interested?
For now, the “hype” of gamification has mostly been created by marketing agencies. After noting the success of social games on social networks , they decided to use this hobby to encourage advertising of their brand. After using competitions ( already a fun process ) to attract customers, companies are looking for applications that will promote digital long-term.

” Gamification is a holistic approach that can be superimposed on all relationships. ”

And, since the majority of new platforms are mostly used for fun, some companies have decided to go ahead with gamification processes. However, these are not limited to social networks or new technologies, it is a holistic and harmonic approach that tends to transform all relationships between employees, with machines and with customers from the angle of play.

PS: For those fond of theories of the game, go read Johan Huizinga , an anthropo-historian, who wrote in 1938, that commercial transactions had, at their base, playful mechanisms in his work: Homo Ludens .

It is therefore an increasingly popular method to market a product. It would therefore be possible, at this point, to substitute the concept of commercial product for social activity. Like serious gambling games , gamification can be used for social purposes.

How can libraries use social gamification?
In my opinion, libraries have everything to gain from gamification processes in their physical and virtual space. As I mentioned recently , the integration of video game collections is becoming an interesting first step for video games, especially as it relates to user transactions.

On the other hand, be aware that gamification is an all-encompassing vision, and the examples given below are scattered pieces. The library must be conceived as a playground for the brain, and in this approach, any transaction becomes a playful principle.

Seven Examples
Contextualization of documents
Libraries already have a technological tool to discuss with documents: QR codes . Like the Publie.Net project, which takes place during the summer in the Montreal Public Libraries , users can use QR codes to link to online documents. QR codes installed on the documents could provide additional information about the document via integration with an online catalog.

Relationship between users
In my interview for the BookCamp, I had the chance to meet Jonathan Belisle , a gamification application creator. The interview was taking place at the Grande Bibliothèque and already he was thinking of ideas for improving interaction in space. One of these ideas: a participatory space for discussion. Using kiosks that would analyze RFID chips in documents, users could be aware of the documents that other users read in order to initiate the conversation.

Transaction on loan
Each transaction is a place that can incorporate playfulness. Whenever a user borrows a document, there is an opportunity to provide a reward. For example, each loan would receive online rewards ala FourSquare with badges like “Novelist”, “Archivist” etc. depending on the title of borrowed books. These badges could serve as ideas for giving prizes.

Even more interesting than a catalog 2.0, a playful catalog gives badges to those who have made the most comments, made tops users who have the most borrowed documents, etc.

A bit like SensCritique , but for libraries.

Initiation to reading
Great readers will not have much to gain from gamification: reading is already an act of pleasure. On the other hand, for those who are in learning mode or for those who have difficulty reading, the game becomes an accessibility tool of the most important.

I only have to think of A book by HervĂ© Tullet to understand that many children’s books are very fun! Initiation to reading can be done through play activities in reading clubs or by reading rewards.

Information Skills Training
Do you offer animations to train young people in information skills? Why not offer serious games that would develop the interest of young people in information skills. We can think of games to use the dictionary, analyze the credibility of sources, search for information, etc.

The creation of websites or social networks serve (among other things) to promote the different activities of the library. Indeed, the promotional budget is never very large in public institutions, so it becomes interesting to think of alternatives. Through mediation games , young people can learn more about the library or products.