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!

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