The idea of making the public library experience more game like has been stewing in my head for some time now, so it was with great interest I saw a blog post about The land of oppertunities. A Danish museum had a game created to enhance the experience of their visitors. I can see why this would work. People can develop a relationship with the space and information instead of simply walking around and looking at objects. The game forces engagement. It works via GPS enabled phones which doesn’t help us in the United States right now (though I’m sure that’ll be widespread soon enough).
I’m especially interested in the possible dichotomy of striving to break down barriers to library use (making it easy) and creating an environment in which people must become engaged (and put forth effort) to use. Could the goal of making our OPACs mindlessly easy be a bad idea after all? What if we made our goal mindfully easy OPACs that were actually interesting to use? The ideal goal, I suppose, would be one that’s easy for all to use and also contains various layers of interestingness for those who would like to delve deeper. Our current mindfully difficult OPACs incorporate risk, experimentation, and the need for persistence and collaboration, but not in an appropriate way. Make no small plans, eh?
One reason I’m keen on providing a gaming-like experience for interested library patrons is the success I’ve had with it on a small scale. Wanting the kids from the computer room to interact with the print collection (so old fashioned, I know), one day I offered some manga stickers to the first few people to a) find a book that they’ve read and liked and b) tell me about it. They actually scurried around the YA section with the enthusiasm they usually reserve for Runescape. I repeated the game a few times, and during the last few rounds a few of the boys found books and told me about them immediately. When I asked how they found their books so quickly, they replied that they figured that I would ask them the same question at some point, so they tried to remember the titles and authors of books they liked.
Pasta&Vingear has some more comments on the museum game, and there’s a video about it, though it is Danish language.