Week 10: The important role of gaming in libraries

1 Oct

Gaming is the act of playing a game”. In libraries, the role of gaming is getting noticed more and more, especially in public libraries. The role of gaming, including gamification, will be important in libraries’ development in the coming years. There are many reasons for this trend. However, this role also can’t be overestimated.

The reasons for the importance of gaming in libraries are:

(1)  Game has the nature for fun and engaging people in library service. This nature will change the serious and/or boring activities into an interesting experience. In reality, many people might think a library is a boring place. They come to a library just for looking some information. When the games being used in the library, some people began to change their thinking. The good games would attract more patrons to the library for sure. Games and library activities can be combined together. In fact, “many games help develop practical skills, serve as a form of exercise, or otherwise perform an educational, simulational, or psychological role”. This is the games’ role in libraries.

(2)  Gamification trend will enhance gaming in a modern way in libraries, because of the functions of gamification. Gamification is a kind of gaming and it will develop rapidly. The role of gamification will be crucial for attracting the clients. According to Gartner Gamificaton Report 2011, gamification is a global trend, and it has created great opportunities for businesses. the same principle is applied to libraries’ development. Involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence form four functions of gamification in the libraries. For example, reward systems and word-of-mouth efforts are parts of involvement.

(3)  Gamification will encourage collaborations among the community of the library. For instance, the gamification software maybe enable users trace other patrons’ reading history and find the people with a similar reading pattern. In the library catalogue, users might use rating, review or recommendation to inform other patrons to use certain service.

(4)  Early starters of libraries have shown that gamification would be an essential element for a library. There are successful gamification activities appeared in both public and academic libraries, such as “Orangetree” for public libraries and “Lemontree” for academic. Crowdsourcing is another function for gamification used in libraries, and it helps the libraries complete their massive work which would be impossible if only using the current staff in the libraries.  For example, hall of fame  has ranked the people who did their correcting job in Trove website to show their credit and to encourage people do more contributions.

Despite of the above factors, the limitation of game is also needed to consider. According to Kim (2012): (1) Poor gamification design will give negative effect to the users. If the design is too simple or too hard for the user group, then it will not be suitable. (2) “If a library offers many different games or a variety of gamified experiences all at once, users may become overwhelmed and tired.” (3) The design focusing on education rather than the fun element of the gaming is a failure, so is the organisation-centred design.

To conclude, if gaming is used properly, the library services would be improved in the future.

Last update: Thursday, 3 October 2013, at 10:10 AEST


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