Last year I occasionally saw the term “Gamification” pop up on the American Libraries Magazine website, and I was immediately intrigued. I’ve heard of board games and video games used in library programming, but what in the world was gamification? In the article “Engaging Students Through Gamification”, Tasha Squires describes how “gamification takes a process or learning target and sets it in a gaming format.” Squires goes on to describe how she and the other staff at a middle school library created a game where students earned points through challenges involving “critical thinking, collaborating to solve puzzles, interacting with teachers outside their normal purview, and creating original work such as book trailers and creative writing pieces.” Gamification seems like an incredible tool for school and public libraries who work with children and teens to promote learning and reading in a fun, creative way.
Can gamification also be used by health science libraries in academic, government, or hospital settings for outreach and training purposes?
Gamification for Health Outreach and Medical Training
I used a quick search of PubMed to see if I could find any reviews on the use of gamification for health or biomedical purposes. Many of the reviews I found illustrated how gamification can be used promote healthy habits and provide health information to patients, such as:
- Gamification of Medication Adherence in Epilepsy
- The future of digital games for HIV prevention and care.
- Gamification for health promotion: systematic review of behaviour change techniques in smartphone apps.
- The Use of Videogames, Gamification, and Virtual Environments in the Self-Management of Diabetes: A Systematic Review of Evidence.
- Gamification for mHealth – A Review of Playful Mobile Healthcare.
Other reviews described how gamification can be used for training of healthcare workers:
- Game on: The gamification of the pharmacy classroom.
- Gamification as a strategy to engage and motivate clinicians to improve care.
- Gamification and Multimedia for Medical Education: A Landscape Review.
One of the most interesting examples of gamification used specifically in a health science library is described in the article “Courting Apocalypse: Creating a Zombie-Themed Evidence-Based Medicine Game”, where health science librarians at the University of Iowa created a zombie-themed “choose your own adventure” game to teach students evidence-based medicine skills.
Health science libraries can use gamification methods to provide health information to patients and training for medical students and healthcare staff in an entertaining, memorable way.
If you’d like to learn more about gamification, I’d recommend reading the article “An Introduction to Gamification: Adding Game Elements for Engagement” by Tara Brigham (full-text behind paywall), or watch the free training webinar from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), Education Games and Health Sciences.