Two years ago I attended GenCon, a four day gaming convention that attracts gamers and game developers from around the world. Being the intrepid educators that we are, my partner and I applied for tickets for the pre-convention PD day offered by local libraries and developers. I joined a group of librarians and teachers for a meet up where the topic was “Gaming In the Library” and I had such a good time.
Libraries haven’t always been bastions of rowdy fun but they are certainly starting to head in that direction. Even when I was a kid I can remember going to the local public library to participate in a library book scavenger hunt that I’m pretty sure was intended to teach kids the dewey decimal system (I was there for the sweet, sweet prizes). Now that libraries and librarians have tech at their disposal, the opportunities to incorporate gamification into learning have really been taken to a new level. These days it’s not uncommon to find librarians doing “tours” of the library for new students using augmented reality or apps that allow the user to hunt for books like they hunt for Pokemon! The Cal Poly Pomona library used these tools to create an amazing library scavenger hunt. What a fantastic way to get people into the library and interested in all of the fun things that the library has to offer!
Gamification definitely has a place in the library but there are also challenges. I think that there are still a lot of people that believe deep down that if you’re having fun, you aren’t learning. Scavenger hunts are great and all, but wouldn’t it just be easier to hand someone a map of the library instead of sending them on a wild Pikachu chase? And then of course there’s the noise factor. There are still lots of folks that use the library as a place to work silently without interruption from kids with smartphones running around trying to “Catch Em All”. In general I think that if everyone tries to be as respectful as possible these two groups can happily coexist, even if the librarians occasionally have to play referee.
As I’ve been researching possible final projects, gamification and AR have really been on my mind and I could see myself wanting to incorporate both of these tools into my work in the library.