Gaming for Libraries

Libraries and librarians have been talking about “gaming in libraries” for years. Patrons are invited to come play Wii, Playstation, DDR.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’ve been watching AR (Augmented Reality) work its way into the mainstream over the past several years. When I first read about it in a 2002 article in Scientific American, I already knew there were people working in this field, but this article really caught my attention and gave a glimpse into what we might expect to see in the very near future.

Now that AR is creeping into our world,  there are some great things libraries can start doing to engage their communities through technology and games.

By now, most people who follow technology and/or libraries have seen the Museum of London’s You Are Here App.  You load the app onto your iPhone and wander through London, seeing an overlay of historic photos on the real-world buildings and places you are viewing.  This app would be a great way for libraries to share their archived images, working with local municipalities to provide an educational experience as well as a nifty tourism treat.

Here’s another thing for the iPhone that would enhance the profile of libraries:

It’s a location-based game that maps Manhattan’s “historical ecosystem” to a learning game. Using a GPS-enabled phone and QR codes throughout the city, the player goes off on something akin to a scavenger hunt, finding information and learning along the way. What is unique about your community? It’s architecture? It’s historic characters? It’s inventions? Every community has something to show off. Making it fun will also make it memorable.

The TED talk posted today is about building a game layer on top of our world. Seth Priebatsch points out that we have already built the social framework for interaction over the past decade. The next decade will bring us the gaming framework we need to guide this social construct. One can safely assume that libraries can and should be at the forefront of all of this. The tools above are just a beginning.

I’m interested in hearing about what libraries and museums are doing to harness this new technology and provide information in new and exciting ways. Leave a comment and share what you’ve done or what you’ve found others doing!