Friday, June 26, 2009

University of Sydney

The Sprylibrarian pointed out these games from the University of Sydney. Other than me having trouble following directions, I think these are very well and neatly done. I hope they don't mind if I steal some of their general ideas for interactive activities...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Still alive

I haven't posted for a while because I moved on to some other things, though I keep coming back to my games. I have 8 or 9 pictograms for my Banned Book Week game. I'm dying to share them here, but can't let them leak out. I'm trying to find the Chronicles of Narnia on a major banned books list so I can use the map. Or Lord of the Rings, since there are also plenty of Middle Earth maps. I need to look them up in the print book Banned in the USA...

I ended up missing the Come Out & Play festival in NYC this past weekend. Between not finding anyone to go with me, and trying to get some family finances in order, I decided begrudgingly to stay home. I will work on something for next year.

I am continuing to listen to Scott Nicholson's Gaming in Libraries course. While a lot of it isn't relevant, much continues to inspire me and I really want to try all of these board games he mentions. He is currently talking about the five archetypes of games, which he calls SNAKS for Strategy, Narrative, Action, Knowledge, and Social games. I've been wanting to move away from trivia games, which is what my games are, though I don't know how to make my games educational without a trivia format. I want to look into Cranium games, he specifically mentions Hoopla, to see if they could be turned into something in the classroom.

He talks briefly about puzzle hunts, and how each piece points towards the next piece. I'm wondering if this would be a better format for my Banned Books pictograms than the two-sided map idea.

Today's topic was strategy games. I think this is what I would like to move towards since the research process involves a number of strategies. But that's as far as I've gotten with this idea.

One more tidbit of game news in my world is that our intern, Jessica, started yesterday. I am very impressed so far, and impressed that she seems to be getting into the game ideas. We're going to add the questions to the Plagiarism Game, then she's eager to help build one from scratch. She pointed me to a part of that has this cute Flash animation of kids raising their hands. It's not a game, but we're thinking of perhaps turning something like this into a game...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gaming in Libraries Course

I have been following Scott Nicholson's Gaming in Libraries course this week and have been delighted with the material. I've only watched the videos, I need to go back this weekend and explore some of the online resources he mentions... and maybe get my hands on some of these board games! To summarize the course so far;

Day 1: talked about the class in general.

Day 2: talked about games and play. He boils the definition of a game down to a "form of play with goals and structure." He says the difference between games and simulations is the play part. A definition of "games" and the definition of what makes them different from simulations was troubling me as I wrote my first solo article recently, but this affirms and brings together my own nebulous conclusions.

Day 3: talked about analog games, a.k.a. board games. He points out that libraries have been supporting gaming for a very long time in this respect. He talks about several types of games, including Designer Games (a.k.a. Euro Games or Gateway Games), Bait Games, Role-Playing Games, Collectible Card Games, and Battle Games.

Day 4: talks about digital games, a.k.a. video games. Most of this section wasn't new to me. He points out that while video games are more exciting, they don't promote as much social interaction. Wii has a number of "party games" that are just silly group games. He also points out that digital games enforce the rules and often require responses within a certain time frame, where as analog games rely on the players and supervisor to enforce the rules, and rarely require a timely response.

Day 5: talks about hybrid games, or Big Games. This was so far the most interesting class. I had heard of most of the games he mentioned, but didn't understand how they were done. I understand a little better now. He defines Big games as the players being the pieces and moving within a physical space. Examples include:
  • Cruel to be Kind (I'm not sure how this is written) which boils down to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
  • California Dreaming at ALA last year. Posters contained puzzles, as you solved them, you called into headquarters and the team captain would choose pieces of California to take over.

More information on Big Games can be found at Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) include ilovebees developed by Microsoft. They found the players were so clever, the game developers were working hard to keep up with the players. The TV show LOST did one of these, too, using a fake travel Web site. Blood on the Stacks used the actual library staff as possible suspects, and would count as a Big Game. Other libraries have done Harry Potter puzzle hunts. And finally, there is Live Action Role-Playing Games such as Vampire: The Masquerade. This fits into something called "interactive fiction" and you can find out more about it on LARPA's Web site.

So, my head is spinning with all of this new information, and new Web sites to explore. I've started talking with a co-worker about a games program, and she's into the idea. I guess I also need to get busy on posters for my Banned Books game. I want to mix the map game idea with pictograms of famous banned books... I'll probably have to wait to post the pictures until after the game, lest some student find it and have an unfair advantage!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Coding Victories

After being stuck on my plagiarism game for months, I have had one of those rare epiphany moments where the fates decide I have suffered long enough. I have found the answer to the two-part interaction where you click on a drawer to open it and expose the goblin, then click on the goblin to get asked a question... and when you get the question right, the goblin disappears!

I celebrated with two Hershey Kisses and will splurge on an ice cream sundae tonight with a friend.