The Gamification of Books: Good Idea, or Bad?
That’s the short version, anyway—chapter eight, which I haven’t gotten to yet, promises a more customized prescription based on one’s score for every topical chapter. I’m guessing that’s where she’ll send me back to the one- or two-point tips I flagged as a ‘maybe’ on first read.
And the beautiful part is, the e-book actually makes following the plan way easier. I can highlight or bookmark the tips I plan to follow, keep a checklist in Wunderlist as I read for stuff I need to get or do, tabulate my points as I go in a Google Spreadsheet. And thanks to the wonders of cloud syncing, all of it—the book and the bookmarks and the to-dos—can be available to me across every device I use. It actually transforms what would just be plain ol’ reading into a dynamic, task-oriented action plan. It totally works for this type of book. And, I have to admit, the ‘fun’ aspect of keeping the points and adding to my score as I read does keep me going through the occasional dry science part.
I’m not saying that ‘gamification’ is necessary or appropriate for every book in the world. Certainly, I would hesitate to see it applied to a book just because it’s for children, as a cheese/broccoli scenario, the way Greenfield describes. But for the type of book Michaels wrote, it works, and well.
I’m not sure I’d like to see this gimmick being over-used. But it just goes to show that, as in all aspects of book publishing these days, there is no holy grail, no formula that works for every situation as the recognized best and only way.
Some books may benefit from a strategy like this one. Others might be more suited for different narrative hooks and marketing schemes. It never hurts to think outside the box, though, and bring something different to the table.