Friday, July 9, 2010

CNN's Road Trip Pic of the Day

I'm working on my Internet vs. Library game while waiting to go on maternity leave (a.k.a. trying to be productive while playing the waiting game, which BTW is NOT a fun game). I came across a fun contest on the CNN Web site where those who can identify a picture are entered into a drawing for some kind of prize.

I'm wondering if I can possibly use this for Banned Books Week or another library promotion. I won't have much time when I get off of leave to prepare much for Banned Books, but we had fun with the pictograms last year.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Game

I've started a new game to educate students on the differences between doing research with library materials vs. the Internet. For now, it's just called Library vs. Internet, though I need to come up with a better name. It's based on a western theme, with the Internet being represented as a buxom cowgirl. It's not much yet, but I hope it will be impressive when it's done... whenever that happens. As I am about to go on maternity leave any day now, this won't be done any time soon.

The content will be based on a handout I created a few years ago using the same characters.

The General Store currently contains the beginnings of an activity to review what the Internet is particularly good for. On Friday, I just completed the background for the Saloon, where I plan to create a simple shooter game to represent the consistency and dependability of sites found on the Internet.

So this will be more than just multiple choice stuff, and some of the demonstrations will be representations rather than 100% educational, but I think that's okay as long as my instructions are clear. Any feedback and ideas on where to go next are extremely welcome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Games & Learning at CUNY

CUNY faculty and librarians are getting together to talk about gaming in the classroom, how cool is that? They have a blog called Games and Learning at CUNY. I found this from a listserv post about a librarian using a game to teach Web evaluation. I'm still not sure where the line is between an "activity" and a "game" is. I may contact Maura Smale and ask her for more information on how students are scored. This sounds similar to what I already do, but I don't tend to hand out prizes for the highest-scoring team... this could be fun!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pirates beginning to click

I think my pirate game is finally beginning to click. The game will start when all players will get a card that describes their character's background. Some will be Navy, some former Navy or former privateers, some will be abused merchant sailors, some will be non-abused merchant sailors, some will be slaves. A few will be merchant captains as well. So approximately half will be legitamate sailors, and half will lean towards piracy.

Pirates- form their own "ships" and hunt loot from other pirates or legitamate ships
Legitamate sailors- must transport goods from one location to another and capture pirates

When a pirate and a legitamate group meet each other (or two pirate groups), they can challange each other through some kind of moderated activity.

One example: Kaboom

If the pirates win, they get the loot the team is carrying. If the sailors win, pirates get turned into the authorities (???)

Winner: whichever pirate team has the most loot divided by the number of team members, or whichever legitimate team successfully transfers the most loot.

This could work, now I need to find some more good challenges between two teams. I'm looking at Double Dare challenges, and need to scope out the Come Out & Play site...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New game idea

I had my four-year evaluation meeting with the Provost yesterday and he suggested a good topic for a new game is Internet vs. library. I have a fun handout on the subject, but I think it would be a good topic for a game and one that students in all disciplines could benefit from. I'm excited, I haven't had any good ideas for games in a long time but want to keep making them. So now I have another project for the fall...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Come Out and Play Festival

The Come Out & Play Festival is in NYC this weekend. One day I will make it, though I'm feeling like I might have to get a smart phone before that happens. Last year, I just didn't have the money for a weekend in NYC, nor could I find anyone who wanted to go with me. This year I am 35 weeks pregnant, so traveling and running around hot city streets is out of the question. But I'm really happy they post brief descriptions on their Web site. It helped with designing the orientation game (which we submitted to ACRL as a presentation proposal for the annual conference), and I hope it will help design a pirate game I've been asked to consider for our college's scholars program. I was busy reading the book, but now need to start thinking about the game!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Augmented Reality

I'm very interested in something that I've seen as a buzzword in several library presentations in the past 6 months, which is "Augmented Reality." It uses some kind of device like a smartphone or special computer with screen to show the real world with digital objects superimposed on it. For example, as I understand it, GPS navigation systems in cars are a kind of augmented reality. The maps represent very real objects while the directions are digitally superimposed on it.

There's an example in this video, which I think comes from National Geographic, of using real maps as grids to play a giant PacMan game. Players see the streets through their goggles, but they also see the floating white balls they need to collect if they are PacMan, or they see other players as PacMan or ghosts. You can also do this without the computer technology, as can be seen in this picture of Pacmanhattan.

Museums are creating games using this idea. For example, here is a video that explains how students visiting a museum in Austria are asked to find things, and they take a picture of a barcode of the correct objects, they can also interact with the instruments on display by virtually playing back a short piece of music on a keyboard, or pumping the billows for an organ. They also see flying green diamonds when they scan a new room in the museum.

Many of the Come Out and Play Festival games have people use their own smart phones, which I don't think you could do in the museum game. I think any of this is beyond my technical abilities, but it's still something to keep an eye on. And perhaps you can use computers with regular Internet access at certain locations to enhance reality. Or vice versa, which I already do with my spies game. After all, we're trying to teach students to use the most appropriate resources and sometimes those are online and sometimes they must be found in the stacks.

Back, for now

I've been thinking a lot about games, esp. as this busy school year wraps up. I've gotten back into the literature and found that much has been published in the last year and a half. I will post some good article recommendations soon.

I'm working on writing up an article on my Goblin Threat game for Indiana Libraries. The proposal was accepted a while ago, and now the actual article is due very soon. I also submitted a book chapter for a book called Let the Games Begin, which should go to press towards the end of the summer. I submitted It's Alive, and was contacted by the editors to write a chapter on Goblin Threat as well. The editor of Indiana Libraries was alright with this, and they are very different formats, so it looks like it will be two chapters in this book. I'm very excited to have a chance to get the word out about games in libraries in print!

My office mate recently returned from LOEX and shared her conference report. I've been quite interested in a game called BiblioBouts which was presented there. They haven't actually tested it with students, I think they plan to this fall. I hope they will publish results on their Web site shortly after. I will be very curious to see how this goes over. Their system of scoring is also quite intriguing. I'm not sure I agree with it, but I also don't think I understand it very well.

Here, I have been asked to think about a game for our college's Scholars' Program. The theme this fall is pirates. Since I don't know much about real pirates, I've been reading the assigned book, called The Invisible Hook, which explores the economics of piracy in its heyday (18th century). Most of the modern, popular conceptions of pirates (derived from movies like Pirates of the Caribbean) are so off. I also got a copy of Hosting a Library Mystery by Elizabeth Karle. I've only read the first chapter, but it seems like it will be highly relevant to planning games. In the first chapter, she states that the first steps are to decide what you want players to accomplish, and to choose a theme. I've always said the first step to an educational game is deciding what you want them to learn. So we're off to the right start. I will post highlights here soon.

So hopefully I can have a summer that will be full of learning about game-based learning, though my professional summer will also be cut short by maternity leave.