As of about 1:00 a.m. MST, The Game of Books successfully hit our initial target of $102,364. That means two fantastic things. 1.) If we can hit $110,000 in the last few hours, we'll be able to put more Starter Kits into the hands of schools and kids! So we're on a Quest to do that. 2.) It means this...:
Now that we know we'll be funded, your pledges can be given as Christmas gifts without worrying about the project not being successful... well... in "printed out Gift Card form", at least. We'll e-mail you a "You're getting something cool from The Game of Books..." graphic, if you like, that you can print and put in envelopes or stockings. Check out this update for information on how that might work: Christmas Stocking Stuffers!
Imagine a game where you - the reader - are the main character, and every book you read earns you points and rewards. The Game of Books is a game for adventurous readers where the books you read earn you points based on what they are about.
The Game of Books combines the physical world of books with the digital and imaginary. It is a website and mobile app that combines "Foursquare for books" and Xbox Live-style gamer achievements, earning you badges and points for the rare themes you encounter in books.
At its heart, The Game of Books allows those of us that love reading to earn something extra for what we already love, to become the master of themes that we visit more than others, to discover books we'd otherwise miss, and to track how we have grown as readers over time.
The Main Points of The Game of Books:
- Readers earn points and badges for the books you read.
- Play The Game by yourself, or with friends locally or on social media.
- Each book in The Game has its own unique digital game card. There are more than 100,000 game cards in the Game of Books today.
- Open Access: The Game of Books is intended to be easily connected to existing reading communities, such as Goodreads.com. Play The Game in the places you already read.
I Earn Points for Reading?:
Whether you realize it or not, you are gaining experience from every book you read. This is pretty obvious in nonfiction; if you read a biography about World War II, you're likely to know more about WWII afterwards. But it's equally true for fiction. If you read a lot of Science Fiction books about space exploration, you become more "experienced" in the fictional concepts and conventions of space exploration. You - in a very real sense - become an expert in the concepts and imagery of space exploration in Science Fiction.
The Game of Books is an innovative way to keep track of what experiences you've gained as you read. The Game uses the cutting-edge technology of the Book Genome Project - which uses computers to analyze books for thematic and writing style make-up, similar to Pandora.com, but for books - to track what themes and experiences a reader encounters in each book.
Each time you claim a book you've read in The Game, you receive credit for those experiences in the form of badges and experience points.
What EXACTLY Do I Earn?:
Readers earn two types of rewards for reading books in The Game of Books: Badges & Character Levels:
Badges are special rewards that a reader earns for encountering particularly rare combinations of themes. So, for example, say you've just read a book that contains both "Vampires" and "Science & Technology" in the same scene together. This would likely earn you the rare "Nerdy Vampire" badge (one of the books in our system that earns this is about vampires on a NASA space station - I kid you not). Badges have a point value that is dependent on how rare the badge is in The Game of Books. Here are a few quick badge examples:
- Character Levels and ReaderXP:
While badges are rare and earned only by specific books, ReaderXP is present in every book in The Game of Books. A book earns a reader experience points (XP) based on its unique themes. So if you read books about Vampires, you'll likely earn Vampire XP. If you read about war, you'll likely earn Military XP.
As you read more of your favorite themes, you gain levels, helping keep track of your literary experiences, and giving you a clear understanding of where you stand compared to your friends or other readers. Personally, I'm about a Level 14 Medieval Weapons & Combat Reader, because I read a lot of Fantasy novels. I have a friend in the office that I'm competing with to see who levels up faster.
Is This Already Built? Sounds Complicated:
That's the great part. The technology at the heart of The Game of Books is done, and we're now funding the final push to build the actual game interface itself, which is the mobile app and physical components of The Game of Books. We're also funding the design, production and distribution of the very first Game of Books "starter-kits" for schools and libraries. These kits provide all the components that a librarian, teacher, or parent needs to begin playing The Game, including:
- Game Rules and Instructions
- Access to the mobile application & website
- Bookmarks Rewards for players
- Badge Stickers for players
- Special Item Cards
- Journey Boards for keeping track of readers' points, badges, and ReaderXP (experience points).
- More (in product description below)
Our goal is to fund the design, initial production and distribution of 4,000 Game of Book starter-kits to libraries, parents, and teachers across the country. We believe we can spark an entirely new way to empower book discovery and community interaction around books, and simultaneously bring a creative and fun product to market.
How it works:
Every book in The Game of Books has been analyzed to determine how many Reader Experience Points it will earn a reader, and what badges it contains based on the unique combination of characters, events, or situations that the author has left for us in the book. The Game combines the technology behind the Book Genome Project with gaming so that thousands of books are assigned points and rewards for the content left in the writing of the author.
The iPhone & Android as Pieces of The Game:
When The Game of Books is ready to be deployed, players will be able to access our database of game cards for each book in The Game in several ways. The easiest will be an application for the iPhone and Android that allows a reader to scan the barcode of a physical book to view its digital game card, or to search for the book by title and author. Doing so pulls up each books digital game card, containing information about the badges it contains and the ReaderXP it earns a reader. You do not need a smartphone to play The Game, as the website will also let you play, but it's one of the more fun ways to interact with The Game.
Every book in The Game of Books has a unique digital game card that represents both the badges that it contains, and the number of experience points earned by reading it.
Players will also be able to access our game deck through The Game of Books website, allowing readers to play whether they prefer physical or digital content. Each book has its own unique game card determined by the content of the book itself.
There are already more than 100,000 digital game cards in The Game of Books today. Both of the examples game cards below contain actual data for each book displayed; they are not hypothetical mock-ups.
A reader plays The Game of Books by selecting a literary "Journey" - such as the Science Fiction Journey or the Romance Journey. Journeys are completed when the reader collects all the badges that are needed to finish that particular Journey.
When a reader checks out, purchases, or reads a book, the librarian, teacher, or parent rewards the player with a sticker of the badge they've earned, to be placed on their Journey Board.
In this way, readers have an entirely new reason to explore new types of books. For example, to complete the Science Fiction Journey they may have to read books that earn them the Space Exploration badge, the Underwater Cities badge, and the Time Travel badge.
Players of The Game use their Journey Board - physical cards that have spaces for the badge stickers they need to earn - to keep track of how many points they've earned, and how far into the Journey they are.
Players can earn special "character levels" by reading enough of specific themes, such as becoming a Level 2 Vampire reader for reading books that earn them lots of VampireXP.
In addition, this will provide wonderful tools for reader advisory, as well. Imagine being able to identify which books a reader may be interested in based on the common themes of the books they've read in the past, or the points they would earn by reading future books.
When a reader completes a Journey, they earn collectable bookmarks representing that particular Journey. The goal of the game is to collect as many bookmarks, points, and game cards as possible.
The Products of The Game:
Each starter kit comes with the basic tools needed for a librarian, parent, or teacher to set up the game for their readers, including rolls of the most common badge stickers, printed bookmarks to be given as rewards for each of the Journeys, printed Journey Cards, game manuals, and access to the online and digital tools to determine which books in The Game contain which badges and points. Additional supplies will be sold in inexpensive booster kits and expansion packs.
Stickers for each of the most common badges in The Game
Journey Cards that players receive when starting a new Journey, serving as the game board.
Posters and promotional materials for the library or school, including posters showing all 30 original badges, their value, and rarity.
Posters and instructional materials that can be provided to players of The Game with rules and guidelines for how to play.
Game manual including rules and guidelines for setting up and playing the game as a "Game Master." Manual will include instructions for teachers, librarians, and for parents to play the game at home with their children.
Online access The Game of Books' database of digital game cards for the books in The Game.
This Kickstarter campaign is a big deal for us. We really, really want it to be successful. We've been connecting with the library, writing, reading, and publishing community to help rally support for the project. We'll being doing more of this, as well as posting more updates, and attempting to answer any questions about what we're trying to do. This is a really ambitious project.
The response has been very positive so far, and we hope readers and librarians will help us share our goals around. Shortly after launch, we're going to try getting the word out to people that will hopefully spread the word to others. We're also going to drag in every friend, family member, and stranger that smiles at us, if we're able (in a very non-pushy and friendly way). :)
We believe that this is a cool enough project that our greatest risk of failure is that not enough people know it exists, and therefore doesn't get funded. We've set the time of this Kickstarter campaign to be longer than normal, because we're going to try to promote it through our library friends, as well as reach out to publishers, authors, and other supporters of the reading mission.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we're going to try very hard to make sure lots of people hear about what we're doing. If you'd like to help, if nothing else, please tell your friends about the project. Send them to GameofBooks.com for more information, and friend us on Facebook (http://gameofbooks.com/facebook).
Wish us the best of luck, please. We're going to have some fun, I think. :)
The Mission & Team (Who are we?!):
Hello, this is Aaron, again. I figure here's a good place to break a little bit from formality; all of the replies to questions and FAQ after the launch will generally be personal and unscripted, so we might as well get used to that now. :)
We are a commercial company with a social mission. We are readers, writers, educators, technology fans, and parents. We want to have an impact on the world of publishing and reading, but we're small and nimble. We're data geeks and gamers. Most of us. Those who are not tolerate those of us that are. The Game of Books is our first game, but we've been working hard to use technology and data to power the publishing industry for more than five years. We're a start-up in spirit and reality, but with a reach far greater than our size. In the past, projects like the Book Genome Project and BookLamp.org (a "Pandora.com for Books") have been covered by media as diverse as TechCrunch, Mashable, the Huffington Post, Popular Science, Macworld, Wired Magazine, CNET, PC World Magazine, NPR, the Seattle Times, and ABC News, among others.
Some of us grew up in libraries. Myself, for example, had my first job at 14 years old cleaning the local library each week; I grew up reading the stacks late into the night (clean for an hour, read for an hour, clean for an hour, etc). I founded BookLamp in 2007 via a very public attempt to get Google interested in the Book Genome Project through CanGoogleHearMe.com (hello to any old friends!). That project went viral, and was a legitimate internet sensation for several months; it was a crazy time of my life. I received thousands of good luck e-mails from complete strangers, something I cherish to this day.
We have members on the team that have lectured for years in the English department of Stanford University, data experts, fantasy readers, graphic designers, programmers, and book lovers. There's about 12 of us, in all, working hard all across the world, but mostly in the lovely Boise, Idaho.
Steve Jobs' once said that extraordinary things happen when technology people intersect with humanities people, and we hope he's right. :) We want to find a way to assist the discovery process around reading WITHOUT messing with the reading experience itself. If we can help people enjoy the discovery process a little more, to allow readers to share experiences - even reading different books - and potentially draw in a person that wouldn't have read otherwise, we will have succeeded.
Our mission is to create a cool experience and social motivation that promotes reading, provides tools to power the literary mission, create something cool that engages the community and connects them back to the library, bridges the physical and digital, and helps demonstrate the cool data and technology that BookLamp.org can generate about books. We have both a commercial and a social mission. We want to have an impact on the world of reading, to leave our mark on an entire industry, and make friends while doing it.
No matter what, thank you again for taking the time to look at what we're trying to do. Whether you end up backing the project or not, thank you very much.
Founder & Lead Designer
Risks and challenges
We have an established team that's been working together for years, and we're used to working to deadlines. We're already working with major publishing partners on The Book Genome Project. We have demonstrated our ability to execute.
Additionally, the technology for analyzing large volumes of books for their themes and badges is already completed for more than 100,000 titles, and being used in various commercial applications. You can explore some of this work at BookLamp.org. The Game is simply an alternative form of applying data we already have, so the truly unique component of the project is ready to go. The rest is the physical execution, production, and distribution.
That said, there are some areas that we're inexperienced in, and represent risks:
- We've never designed a game before. While we are all gamers to one degree or another, we could create a game that sucks and isn't fun to play. We're working to connect with game designers that we can recruit to make sure that doesn't happen, but it's certainly a risk.
- The technology is ready to go, as is the initial design of the game, but some of the art direction and style of the assets are still being developed. Anyone that watched the development of Diablo III can tell you that art direction can be a big deal for people. If you're an artist, feel free to help alleviate that by introducing yourself on our facebook page. We'll try to do the best we can to create a game that will appeal to many ages, genders, and demographics.
- We're not traditionally a manufacturing company. Once we design the physical pieces of the game, we'll have to figure out how to print, package, and ship the inventory. We do have people that have worked in supply chain management before, in previous lives, but most likely we'll seek to outsource this to help us scale.
- We could fall behind on delivery dates. We'll try not to, because this is our full time gig and that would be embarrassing, but you never know.
- Libraries might not like us. Some of us are not pretty to look at. We'll work with librarians to make sure the game is as fun as possible, and fits into existing catalog needs, but you never know. But if we get funded, I think that will be an indication that enough people think it's a good idea that it'll find players, and consequently, progressive librarians and teachers willing to help be the game masters.
In short, the danger in this project is not failure to deliver. The Game of Books does and will exist, and we're public enough in the world that we won't be able to disappear without being vulnerable to our local librarian (who would be angry at us for not getting this going). We'll do our best in the execution of the game, and try to deliver something that is fun, engaging, and that we'd love to play ourselves. But there are risks in every opportunity, and every effort. Please support us, but please support us only if you fulfill ALL of the following criteria:
a) You don't have a burning hatred of any of the following:
b) You can afford it
c) You feel cognitively aware enough to support us
If you are all of these things, please help the project, fund us, and spread the word to your friends.
No, you don't need a smartphone to play. In fact, requiring a smartphone would make The Game needlessly inaccessible to many people. The Game of Books website will also allow you to fully play The Game, including tracking your books, scores, and rewards.
Funny you should ask. There is in fact a demo you can try at http://gameofbooks.com/level_up. It's a concept demo, intended to show off how The Game may work, so it's not actually "The Game." But it'll give you an idea. Try it out.
Yes, The Game can be played from anywhere that you're able to access the website, though the system is English-language books only, for the time being. We will also ship all of the physical packages internationally if you're willing to cover the shipping costs - we can't change that setting on the rewards after someone has chosen one, or most wouldn't say, "US Only." We'll add an International version of the physical rewards, and any of the digital rewards - such as the game badges - will also be awarded internationally, regardless of what the wording of the reward itself says. If you live internationally and would like to pledge, please do so, and we'll work out the shipping details through the surveys after closing.
For the time, we've only indexed and scored English-language books. This may change in the future, if there's demand for it, but for the time being our tools used to figure out how many points each book earns is built around an English language corpus. Multiple language support is something we'd like to do in the future.
Surprising how many times we've gotten this question. Shows people pay attention. We wanted to choose a number that was more fun than just $100,000... so we decided to find an obscure reference that combines "science fiction" with "books." We ended up with a date that did that: The year 2364. Confused? The year 2364 in the Star Trek universe is the year that Geordi La Forge joined the crew of the Enterprise as a lieutenant junior grade. Geordi, of course, is also LeVar Burton, from the Reading Rainbow. Science Fiction + Books. Obscure? Yes. Are we oddly proud of it? Absolutely.
If you are a teacher, librarian, or you think you might qualify to receive a donated starter kit, please go to http://gameofbooks.com/book_kit to let us know you are interested in receiving a kit. After the campaign closes, we'll work to distribute donated kits as best we're able. With Lulu's contribution, we'll likely have several hundred kits to find a happy home.
Absolutely. In fact, our plan is to have an API that allows The Game of Books to integrate with other sites. I'm not a great fan of having twenty reading lists on different sites, either, so if we can make it so that many people are playing The Game of Books in their existing communities, we're all for that. Whether or not Goodreads or other similar sites are interested in that is hard to say, but we think it's a great idea. Perhaps after the Kickstarter closes, we'll make an effort to connect with them and have a good discussion about it, at the very least. If you happen to be a member of the community, feel free to point them our direction.
I'd like early beta access, but want to pledge for the PLAY THE GAME. Is early beta access included?
Yes, early beta access is included for any pledge beyond $10.
Yes, you can. This has been one of the most common questions, and it's clear we should have allowed this as an addition to any pledge. So, for those of you that find this FAQ: For every $10 pledge over the base amount of any reward, you will be able to give a "Somebody Loves Me" badge as described in the GIVE YOUR FAVORITE BOOK A BADGE! reward. So, for example, if you select the $39 Family Kit as your reward, and pledge $49, you'll receive 1 vote to give one badge to any book in The Game. As with the rules of GIVE MY FAVORITE BOOK A BADGE, the more votes a book has, the higher the point value its badge will be worth to readers when The Game goes live. Feel free to give a single book multiple badges for a higher score, or give a single badge to multiple books of your choice.
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