Monday, March 23, 2009

Big Games Article

While trying to figure out why not all of Jenny Levine's gaming articles from Library Technology Reports show up in EBSCO, I stumbled on a great article called "Broadening Our Definition of Gaming: Big Games" from the April 2008 issue. Here are some of the juicy tidbits from this article:

Storytelling is a big theme in librarianship that I haven't yet had time to follow up on. I think the story is a key component to making a "game" and making "work" seem like fun. Really, so far my games are little more than a worksheet loosely set to a story. There was a poster on digital storytelling at ACRL and I hope to look more closely at her poster on the Virtual Conference and maybe get in touch with her to learn more about storytelling.

"Big Games" can also be called "pervasive games," "Alternate Reality Games" (ARGs), "Live Action Role Playing games" (LARPs), or "location-based games." They often use some sort of technology, esp. for communcation or verification, but don't usually rely on technology the way video games do.

Companies exist to create custom-made games for people. Such companies include area/code, 42 Entertainment, and GameLab. Their Web sites are worth a visit.

There is an annual Come Out & Play festival that takes place in different cities. The 2009 one in NYC is coming up June 12-14. As we are only 3.5 hours from NYC, I'm contemplating a visit to at least witness this phenomenon, if not get involved. Anyone want to join me?

Eli Neiburger at the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) turned part of their annual staff in-service day into a Big Game. He called it Dewey Dare, and was inspired by Greg Trefrey's You Are Not Here (the map game I am so interested in) and Jane McGonigal's Reverse Scavenger Hunt (I'm not familiar with this). In Dewey Dare, players gathered in teams to take a picture of an Ann Arbor downtown business with its address clearly visible. They then had to find a book they could thematically connect whose call number matched the address. For example 332.04 Retirement on a Shoestring and 332 S. Ashley: Red Shoes Boutique. The entries were judged on the best connection. Teams could also take photographs of other teams out on the town to steal their entries.

ALA Annual 2007 had Cruel 2 B Kind which was part of the Come Out & Play festival of 2006 in NYC. It was a kind of zombie-tag game where teams hunted and were hunted using random acts of kindness (I can't imagine what a naive bi-stander experienced that day!).

Come Out & Play 2006 also had a game called Hot Books where books are attached to players, and players have to find those books and a keyword that will help them detach the book. Part of it involves players finding books they like and identities for the book.

The article was published before ALA Annual 2008's Big Game. It promises information on the details of the game so that people can adapt it to their own libraries, but I haven't been able to find this yet.

So here are lots of examples to examine. I am really interested in how these can be used in class, for fun (yet sneakily educational) programs that students will actually come to, working with career services to have some kind of catch-'em-early program for freshman and sophomores, and of course for freshman orientation.

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