Reward-Based Gamification in Libraries: Short-Term Benefits, Long-Term Concerns

Your Name and Title: Scott Nicholson, Associate Professor

Library, School, or Organization Name: Syracuse University School of Information Studies

Co-Presenter Name(s):

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: United States

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s): Librarians considering adding gamification to their library services.

Short Session Description (one line): Participants in this session will understand the risks of using reward-based gamification to promote library services and learn about an alternative through meaningful gamification.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like): Gamification is the concept of using game design elements for a non-game setting. Many commercial examples of gamification focus on the use of scoring systems from games such as points and levels to create reward-based systems to encourage library use.  This concept is not new to library services; summer reading programs have relied upon rewards to encourage reading in children.  New gamification tools are taking these reward-based game concepts and are applying them more broadly to many more library services.

While reward-based gamification will provide short-term boosts in engagement, there are some serious long-term concerns about relying on rewards.  The focus in this talk will be on research by motivation scholars such as Deci, Ryan, and Kohn that demonstrates again and again how rewards used to control create external motivation that replaces internal motivation.  If the rewards are then removed, the motivation goes with it, so the participant is then less likely to engage in the motivated behavior.  While this is fine for a short-term need or the teaching of a life skill, it is a problem for creating long-term behavior or attitude change.  Looking at the summer reading example, many of those children who read for rewards during summer reading stop coming to the library as teens when the rewards are gone.

There is an alternative to reward-based gamification and that is meaningful gamification.  Meaningful gamification focuses on using elements of games and play to engage users and help them discover meaningful connections to a non-game setting.  Instead of relying upon scoring systems as the goal, meaningful gamification has the goal of helping users find their own path and discover connections between the activity and their own background and interests through engaging game and play elements.  Rather than focus on the short-term increase in library statistics by offering rewards, meaningful gamification focuses on building internal motivation for future library engagement.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:

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Scott:  this looks fascinating.  Will look forward to it.

this sounds fascinating - will do my best to join the session live!



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