Gamification is a term that has been used in business and tertiary contexts for a while, and seems to be entering library discourse. As a lifelong gamer and librarian, I am hugely interested in the potential as well as the pitfalls of this evolving paradigm.
My plan is to publish on this topic here in The Room of Infinite Diligence fortnightly – on alternate weekends to my work writing for LIANZA’s library profession magazine, eLibraryLife, where I first published on the 26th of January 2011 and am now a regular columnist.
For those of you interested in a little background, please refer to my currently-in-development annotated bibliography. Dr A. Duus Pape of Binghampton University Dept of Economics and Pikiora Wylie of Auckland Libraries have kindly agreed to provide peer review for this part of this project.
If you are doing any reading in this area and would like to contribute what you see as key documents to the list, please email seanfish at gmail with your thoughts. Again, this is very much an embryonic bibliography at this point.
I recommend this article as a thorough backgrounder on the current discussion. Under the cut, I lay out my initial plans for the coming series of posts.
I’ll start the work proper in my next post not by discussing the current situation, but describing what I think gamification is through a (relatively) simple story from my past.
In the posts following that I will attempt to describe the current situation, referring to my aforementioned bibliography as it develops.
After that I’ll be discussing successful and unsuccessful gamification strategies. I will be arguing for a need to examine the difference between a long-term successful strategy and a strategy that will inevitably defeat itself long term, and suggesting that every strategy will ultimately gamify the world to the point where it is irrelevant. If that wasn’t the case, we’d all still be playing Pong.
I’m going to suggest that gamification is, at its best, the creation of a shared set of rules, conditions, or experiences aimed at improving performance – whether in terms of product sales, library user engagement or learning outcomes.
I’m going to describe the problems that come from assuming our desired outcomes will automatically be those of our audience, and locate and/or develop some alternative approaches that remedy this central problem.
Where possible throughout, I will address each question through a personal anecdote followed by a more formal analysis.
I welcome any and all feedback here, through my email (seanfish at gmail), or to my twitter.