Tag Archives | Transformative games

Gamification in Libraries: A Word of Warning

Greetings! I’m Scott Nicholson, author of Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages, and an associate professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. During the 2011-2012 academic year, I was on sabbatical as a visiting professor at MIT, where I worked with the GAMBIT game lab. When I returned to Syracuse, I started the Because Play Matters game lab, which focuses on the creation of transformative games and play for informal learning environments. “Transformative games” is a term coined by Jesse Schell for games designed to change people; these also are known as serious games or games for change.

One area that I have focused on since then is Gamification. Gamification is a new term for an old concept: using game design elements for a real-world context (Deterding et al., 2011). Libraries have been doing this for decades through summer reading programs where patrons track books read and then receive a reward. Many modern gamification applications are based upon the game design elements of role-playing games. Upon accomplishing something in the real world, players receive points. As players get enough points, they are reward by gaining levels or status on a leader board. Additional challenges can earn players achievements, and players are rewarded with badges that are publicly displayed. My term for this type of gamification is BLAP: Badges, Levels & Leaderboards, Achievements, and Points.

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