Thursday, July 30, 2009

Microsoft and gaming

Okay, so the connection between Microsoft and gaming isn't anything new. But my officemate forwarded a link a few days ago about Microsoft getting into creative uses of games. I haven't had time to look into this much, but I think they're using games to do user testing. I didn't understand what you were supposed to do, but I was trying to do it quickly and wasn't being patient. Still, it's kind of neat.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PRIMO, here I come!

I just received a notification that my It's Alive! game got accepted into PRIMO! PRIMO stands for Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online Database, and is sponsored and hosted by ALA and I have been very impressed with the materials included in it. I submitted It's Alive! and my Secret Agents game months ago and forgot about it, so today was a pleasant surprise.

We've done some user testing for our freshman orientation game and have a lot of great feedback to work into the game. It is terribly difficult to simultaneously design 8 different tracks of the same game so that students can work in groups of no more than 4 people. Some of the feedback is significant, like utter confusion going back and forth between the directions they have in their hand and the ones they find along the way, and some are pretty minor.

I'm plugging away at my plagiarism game. This week, Flash is outsmarting me. I'm trying to add feedback to the questions, but it's not working the way I originally envisioned it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I got a Google Alert pointing to a blog on game-based learning. I hadn't seen this blog before and I'm excited to start digging into it. The post was about an educational BBC game called Questionaut. It takes you through a series of worlds and the game part is trying to figure out how to get to the questions. Each world is themed, one being biology, another English, another about angles, etc. I haven't played it to the end yet, but I plan to go back and do this. For each question you get right, you get fuel in your hot air balloon to keep going up. I think you're chasing your girlfriend's hat, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

So again this boils down to a quiz game, but the graphics and how the questions tie into the game part are unique and fun.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Deep in Development

I am soo excited to be planning a Big Game!!! Things are beginning to click, and we've started mapping out the first track. Here is a picture of some of my notes and scribbles.

We have settled on holding the Lyco Dog hostage. This is a trained Australian Shepard who wears a blue & gold bandanna and fetches the tee at football games. This way, the library mascot can still be dancing at the front door. The students will be given vague instructions and a ransom note with numbered blanks. Throughout the activities, they will get letters that will help them fill in those blanks. They will have to find out the names of the three public services librarians (each of our names includes one of the needed letters), retrieve a book, a print journal, arrange themselves in correct LC call number order, get a video clue in one of our screening rooms, and find several key items in the library to fill in the ransom note, find the picture of the hostage, and get their reward at the circ desk (a cool-pop).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gaming at Freshman Orientation

We're doing a big game for freshman orientation! We're going to hold something hostage, hopefully the library mascot, which is a stuffed snowman, but waiting for our director's approval on that.

I found a lot of inspiration from Ran Some Ransom by Erik Burke and Lynn Maharas, which was played in NYC at the Come Out & Play festival last month. We'll have a few places that use the transparencies, but other clues as well for getting the letters to spell out where the "hostage" is hidden. We're going to add more physical activities and teamwork into some already existing activities, like putting the books in the right order by call number.

We're applying a spy theme to the event, though not sure what that means as far as how we'll be dressing up. My co-worker is suggesting we dress up as Bond girls. I do have one dress that would work, but I'd have to think of something to wear over it so I don't freeze to death in our over-air-conditioned building.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Resources

Scott Nicholson's Gaming in Libraries class is now over. I gave a very positive review in the hopes that this will be continued in the future.

My article got pre-accepted in College & Undergraduate Libraries last week with some fairly minor revisions. I'm just having difficulty getting in touch with the professors involved for quotations to add.

I've stumbled on a few more articles and short bibliographies on instructional games in libraries. One is from the ACRL Instruction Section, called "5 Things You Should Read about Gaming and Learning," and the other is Lynn VanLeer's "Interactive Gaming vs. Library Tutorials for Information Literacy: A Resource Guide." These definitely contain information and sources that are new to me (though also some familiar ones), and I'm ready to start diving back into the gaming literature a little after taking a break to work on a literature review on plagiarism.

The plagiarism game is coming along. I've been working with an intern for two hours a week and we are happy with 17 of the 19 questions needed for the first six rooms of the game, so I plan to start adding those questions to the tutorial today.