Posted by: bluesyemre | September 8, 2020

Game theory designed #Library experiences in support of #reading

Our guest featured for today’s blog is a very special Knovvmad from Spain, Ana Ordás. Ana is a librarian with more than 20 years of experience in the world of business as a library consultant for physical and digital libraries. She authored the book: Gamification in Libraries: The game as inspiration. Her work as a freelancer focuses on the professional development in libraries, focused on digital marketing and gaming theory as a way to provide solutions for consumer participation and visibility for libraries in our society.

In this article, we’ll wear our jocular glasses to see how some libraries have addressed the challenge of fomenting readership by using game theory. Reading clubs and reader challenges are classic library examples of methods used to encourage readership and engender habits that will accompany and enrich people for a life time. But too often these efforts become repetitive and libraries seek to surprise and inspire.

Clearly table top and video games can be appropriated to garner attention to, and motivate reading, or even to increase the reader’s comprehension of the lecture, what is more, if you haven’t done so, I invite you to explore this path first. Games are the essence of game theory, the point of departure to get to know their elements and understand the mechanisms of diversion in their broadest sense.

The diversion and with it, the emotion we feel is what hooks us on a game. In continuation and based on the “4 Keys 2 Fun,” by Nicole Lazzaro I am going to review the emotions games provoke in the players and relate those to reading. Not all of us are looking for the same things in reading and we should identify the different needs in order to design reading programs that generate emotions we will not forget and we will wish to experience again.

  1. Hard fun, is what makes us enjoy solving problems, overcoming challenges, dominating certain abilities or developing strategies. These actions manage to make us feel an emotion, pride. Reading is a tool for learning across the life span, for reflection for acquiring understanding and mastery.
  2. Easy fun, serves as the vehicle for imagination, causing us to enjoy fantasy, creativity and all there is to explore. Reading has always been a fountain of inspiration as it awakens in us curiosity, an emotion we experience when we enjoy the artistic part, leading us to experiment, to create. Through this, many enter reading by way of the aesthetics of the work, of the stories that it tells
  3. People fun, is what makes us enjoy experiences in which other are involved. Reading clubs are a faithful reflection of the sentiment that comes with the community that develops as a result of gathering, cooperation, competition and conversation. Human beings are social by nature and are drawn to what others have read and share the points of view that make us complicit.
  4. Serious fun, is the one that provides a sense of social value. The calm or enjoyment that produce a bond with a read that makes one lose track of time, helping others to read or understand a text, recommend a read, write a review, or any way to contribute to the wellbeing of another or contribute to society.

This is gamification, understanding the elements of games and applying them as reading, as a way of generating those emotions that we feel when we enjoy a game. In the design we have to be clear regarding the objectives and indicators to be measured and focus on the design of an enjoyable and meaningful experience that will provoke people to be attracted to it and make them desire to involve themselves for the long term. One more way to challenge people to give the best of themselves, create social ties, and be a part of something much larger.


“In an ideal world, libraries would be valued as treasures of knowledge. Parents would encourage reading and children would always pick the library as their favorite place to spend a Sunday”

Chan 2010.

This is the beginning of an article by the Counsel that manages the Singapore National Library, Public libraries and Archives (NLB) which presents two game designed projects, “Quest” and “Read and Reap” meant to attract young readers to the library and add value to the reading experience. Both use a visual impact and a change of packaging of the traditional text to reach a digital generation. The Quest project is aimed primarily at children that are at or near the point of falling in to the category of recurrent readers. Within the auspices of the popularity of graphic novels and the incessant popularity of trading cards among children, Quest uses the same format with manga illustrations on one side and stories on the other; a powerful mechanic of collecting in games. 

The NLB in Singapore organized writing and drawing contests. Additionally, they had a web site with downloads of the manga drawings of the Quest universe.

On the 31st of March, 2010, less than a year after its launch, 1.33 million Quest cards had been generated and more than 2 million loans were done in the libraries of Singapore. Of the 70,000 participants, 75% were children. The public libraries saw loans to users between the ages of 9 and 12 increase by 30% relative to the same time the preceding year. In summary, the numbers demonstrated that as a project, Quest was a success in its objective of attracting young readers (Chan 2010, 6)


The O’Neill Middle School Library in Downer’s Grove, Illinois was able to increase participation in their reading program from 30% to 80% thanks to a game designed experience. The challenge, led by Tasha Squires, served to highlight the library’s responsibility to alphabetization of the information and to help students enjoy their reading. 

The Conquest of the Realm has as its objective to challenge students to create critical thinkers that will collaborate voluntarily and that would be original and creative in their written works.

The reading program was voluntary, working to motivate and engage the students in the process of applying apprenticeship and innovative abilities in the school. It allowed the students to interact between classes, form alliances, connect to online tools, and share ideas to resolve together the problems presented. 

Rules of the game: Every student who wanted to participate would join a group to make a team of four, a “casa” or house. These houses have to recapture the throne of the lands of Oneillia and the house that accumulates the most points wins the throne. 

Data: 120 members in each team. There were 34 videos made promoting the books. 30 original stories for the state competition. There were 42 presentations for the collaborative blog. 63 stories about the personalities in the game. And, there were 217 comments about the books in the catalogue. Elements of games that were used: narrative, teams, chats, special powers time limits, challenges, collaborations, choices, items search, points, feedback and collecting, among others.


This project for the 2018-2019 school year, designed by the Municipal Library of Vega-La-Camocha (Red municipal library of Gijon, Asturias, Spain) with specific objectives designed to stimulate visits to the library, foment interest in literary genres in least demand, such as poetry and theater and for other library resources such as a family space and one for leisure, objectives that were achieved.

The reading challenge has other elements from games, such as: challenges, levels, competitions, classifications, badges, points, teams, rewards, and surprises among other things, but on top of everything it has a theme and a story to tell that accompanies the participants during the experience. The challenge is begun with the mailing of owl letters to the families interested in participating, informing them that they have been pre-selected to be trained as magician readers and they are called upon for a selection ceremony for one of the four houses.

The challenge concludes with a presentation of awards to the magician that obtained the most points with his reading, to the family with the most reading, and to all the members of the winning house. This challenge managed to keep the interest of 228 participants until the end, with 130 young readers achieving the category of magician and 4,803 resources loaned.

The three examples have in common a narrative as the conductive wire that should have a simple boarding, in which the players should progress at their rhythm, and at which it is important that they are moved emotionally through different mechanisms, dynamics and elements we can learn from games: collecting, challenging, creating, cooperating, competing, leading, debating and others.

The gamification takes an additional step beyond the use of games, for this reason it is important to have experimented with the games before engaging in the planning of gamified experiences. Using the example of cooking, you cannot be a chef of high cuisine without knowing the basic ingredients and having experimented with them to create new recipes. In continuation, I share from those recipes to create motivating experiences that I hope will serve to inspire you to create your own adapted to your consumers.

Follow the author: – Twitter – LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: