The Game of Books, Booklamp.org’s project that works with libraries, educators, and publishers to promote reading, has taken another step in its epic journey. It is a journey through five years of passion for books and the power of ideas. The Game of Books’ Kickstarter launched today. Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative ideas, allowing the public to support projects they love. The Game of Books’ Kickstarter gives readers an opportunity to join founder Aaron Stanton and his team in this journey that began with a simple question.
Can Google Hear Me? This blog documented Stanton’s adventure as he tried to get the ear of the most successful Internet company in the world. In the course of four years, he received more than 3,000 emails from Internet users from around the world supporting his quest. Not only did Google hear him, Amazon, Yahoo, and other prominent businesses did too. In the end Stanton did the unthinkable – he turned down an offer from Google to start his own business based on his idea.
The Book Genome Project is the engine that powers Booklamp.org, and The Game of Books. Booklamp.org’s computers read books and then categorize them down to the smallest details. The system looks at the plot, characters, settings and amount of action in the book, then uses this information to provide a more intelligent book recommendation system. In an interview with The Sandbox News, Stanton explained the problem in modern book publishing.
“Barriers to entry for publishing are coming down, and that makes high quality books harder to find.” He went on to show how the Book Genome Project could solve it. “Many books don’t have enough reviews to be recommended by the systems in use now by companies like GoodReads or Amazon. The Book Genome Project recommends books by what they are about. It levels the playing field between mid-list authors and best sellers.” The Book Genome project can help readers find new authors and stories, and The Game of Books rewards them for reading.
The Game of Books puts together the things Stanton is passionate about: libraries, books and reading. It doesn’t interfere with the reading experience; there are no distracting pop ups or videos. Instead it adds to the experience. The game is organized around journeys.
As the reader completes books in a given genre such as science fiction, fantasy or romance, they make progress towards completing the journey for that genre. Some books have badges, like achievements in video games. The badge system takes advantage of Booklamp.org’s ability to dig deep into the plot of a book, scene by scene, and recognize interesting scenes. For instance, a reader will earn the Cold Romance badge for reading a book with a romantic scene that takes place in cold weather. The rarer the badge, the more it is worth. Not all books have badges, but even the ones that do not will give the reader experience points based on genre, characters and plot. For instance, if a reader completes a fantasy story, they’ll gain experience towards levels in medieval weapons. If it has vampires in it, they will receive levels in vampires. Stanton eventually wants to let readers create their own journeys.
The Game of Books makes it easy to start your journey. The reader downloads an app for their smart phone or tablet, and then scan the back of the book they want to read. The app will present a game card which shows the experience points the reader gains by completing it, and the journey it is a part of. For those without smartphones, the cards will be available on Booklamp.org, and libraries will have a physical set of cards along with special rewards for earning badges and completing journeys. While The Game of Books rewards you for doing what you already do, the experience point system and journeys give you an opportunity to compare reading habits and compete with friends.
The Kickstarter is an effort to get The Game of Books into the hands of the readers that need it the most: parents, teachers and librarians. The Game of Books is designed to compliment the Summer reading programs run by libraries all over the country, and to be as much fun for adults as it is for kids. The developers of The Game of Books have called on a team of teachers, librarians, parents and game designers to help them take the project to completion.
Kickstarter projects have been the subject of a great deal of skepticism this year. Aaron Stanton is ready, and said “trying something cool, and being transparent and vulnerable is the best way to approach skeptics.” While he was working on Can Google Hear Me, the response to his project was overwhelmingly positive and he expects to see the same response to The Game of Books’s Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter runs from October 24th until December 17th. Supporters can buy a starter kit for themselves or for their local library. The starter kit includes everything a parent, teacher or librarian needs to set up the game. It includes printed Journey cards, badge stickers, and special bookmarks that are awarded for completing a journey. Pledge levels run from one dollar to more than 5,000 dollars and offer a variety of perks for those helping The Game of Books reach its 102,364 dollar goal.