Accidental Technologist: Gamification in Libraries

Kyle Felker


Gamification is undoubtedly a major trend: it was the topic of sessions at both of the previous ALA Annual conferences, has an interest group under LITA, and was mentioned in the last three NMC Horizon reports for higher education. While there is interest in creating games that are both engaging and educational, doing so is challenging and requires great investment. In this column, Kyle Felker relates the experiences of the Grand Valley State University library. His writing not only discusses how libraries can effectively utilize games but also the theory behind them as well.—Editor

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Ralph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design (New York: O'Reilly Media, 2013), chapter 3.

"Industry Facts," Entertainment Software Association, accessed October 20, 2013,

James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Second Edition (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

NCSU Libraries, "NCSU Libraries Mobile Scavenger Hunt: Not Your Typical Library Orientation" accessed August 3, 2014,

Jason Battles, Valerie Glenn, and Lindley Shedd, "Rethinking the Library Game: Creating an Alternate Reality with Social Media," Journal of Web Librarianship 5, no. 2 (2011): 114–31.

Karen Markey, Chris Leeder, and Beth St. Jean, "Students' Behaviour Playing an Online Information Literacy Game," Journal of Information Literacy 5, no. 2 (December 2011): 46–65.

Running in the Halls Limited, "Engaging Libraries with LibraryGame," accessed August 2, 2014,

Kyle Felker, "LibraryQuest: Developing a Mobile Game App For a Library," accessed August 2, 2014,

Gabriel Zicherman, Gamification by Design (Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 2011), 36.

Ibid., 42.

Tracy Fullerton, Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games (Boston: Morgan Kaufmann, 2008).

Zicherman, Gamification By Design, 58.

Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Matter and How They Can Change The World (New York: Penguin, 2011), 119.



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