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Essays on Using Play to
Connect and Instruct
Edited by Breanne A. Kirsch

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers

Jefferson, North Carolina
Games in libraries : essays on using play to connect
and instruct / edited by Breanne A. Kirsch.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-7864-7491-2 (softcover : acid free paper)
ISBN 978-1-4766-1324-6 (ebook)

1. LibrariesActivity programs. 2. LibrariesSpecial
collectionsGames. 3. LibrariesSpecial collections
Electronic games. 4. Games. 5. Active learning.
I. Kirsch, Breanne A., 1983 , author, editor of compilation.
Z716.33.G36 2014 025.5dc23 2013050539


2014 Breanne A. Kirsch. All rights reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form

or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying
or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publisher.

On the cover: group of students studying (Fuse/Thinkstock);

children at computers (Purestock/Thinkstock); book background
(Dimitry Merkushin/iStock/Thinkstock)

Manufactured in the United States of America

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers

Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640
For Jon, Aleena, and Deb and Paul Geery.
I love you.

And for the librarians trying to stay innovative

in a profession that is constantly changing with technology.
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Table of Contents


Levels of Game Creation Cecilia Sirigos 9

Knowing When to Create a Library Game Mary J. Snyder Broussard 30
The State of the Game: ALA Games and Gaming Round Table
Diane Robson, Scott Nicholson and Darlene McPeek 43
Gamication in Libraries Carli Spina 62
Changing the Game: Using Badges to Assess Information Literacy
Instruction Andrew Battista 80
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience Heath Ward 92
Welcome to My Multiverse: Gaming for the Most Voracious and Eclectic
of Avid Readers K. G. McAbee 109
In the Library with the Candlestick: Adapting Clue for the Special
Collections Library Emily Jack and Jonathan McMichael 125
Learning with Games in Medicine and Healthcare and the Potential
Role of Libraries Bohyun Kim 152
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure: Using an Interactive Information
Literacy Game to Reach Transfer Students Andrew Kearns,
Breanne A. Kirsch and Chris Vidas 171
Beyond the Board: Alternate Reality Games in Libraries Jason J. Battles 187
A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games Mary J. Snyder Broussard 203
Game Making Resources for Librarians, AZ and Beyond: An Annotated
Bibliography Jonathan Kirsch 217




I would like to rst thank my husband, Jon, who helped me solidify

the idea for this book and get the courage to submit a book proposal to
publishers. I would also like to thank my parents, Debra and Paul Geery;
my sister, Aleena Geery; and my in-laws, Bob and Noel Kirsch.
Furthermore, I would like to thank all of the contributors who worked
diligently on their essays as well as any revisions requested. Their hard
work is what makes this an innovative collection of essays on making and
using games in libraries. Finally, I would like to thank my co-workers and
the dean of the University of South Carolina Upstate Library, Frieda Davi-
son, who encouraged me to pursue this project.


Libraries are constantly evolving, and some things which were once viewed as tting
certain library types can be rediscovered or repurposed by different libraries. For example,
popular ction was and still is the focus of public libraries, but a number of academic
libraries, including the University of South Carolina Upstate, have created leisure reading
collections with popular ction. Similarly, games are being used in a variety of ways in all
library types. This book thus reects a variety of library perspectives, as well as a genre
ction writers viewpoint. Just as the American Library Association strives to meet the needs
of librarians from all types of libraries, these essays provide ways games can be used in dif-
ferent types of libraries with crossover applicable to all libraries.
This essay collection discusses innovative uses of games in libraries and focuses on the
game making process. The contributors of this book are all interested in games and how
they can be used for game-based learning or other library purposes, such as outreach. Each
of the authors was selected by the editor because of conference presentations they have given
on using games in unique ways at their institutions or because of expertise on a particular
aspect of making or using games. The collection covers a wide variety of game usage across
different types of libraries. While essays tend to focus on academic and public libraries,
many of the ideas can be used in school and special libraries for similar reasons. The purpose
of this book is to bring together distinctive uses of games in libraries or educational insti-
tutions and share these ideas with others to inspire the making and use of games by other
librarians and educators.
The idea for this book came to me after attending a variety of conferences and hearing
about exceptional ways games were being used in libraries and educational institutions.
After listening to Andrew Battista at the past Georgia International Conference on Infor-
mation Literacy in 2012 talk about how we could use badges to assess information literacy
instruction, I thought this idea should be shared with other librarians and educators. The
presentation motivated me to seek out other presenters and librarians for fresh, new ideas
about making and using games in libraries and academic institutions. All of the authors of
the essays within this book provide inspiring and informational examples of making and
using games in libraries. I hope this book inspires you to think of new ways to make and
use games at your library or institution.

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According to the Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, a game is an activity

engaged in for diversion or amusement: play.1 When I think of games, I think of board
games like Sorry or Monopoly or computer games I grew up with like Oregon Trails or SimCity.
I also think of newer games, video games such as Wii Just Dance or Wii Super Mario. The
immersive, popular online game World of Warcraft also comes to mind. Sports and so much
else can also fall into the broad category of games. If we broaden it further, it can include
things like gamication or using game-like elements for other purposes. Since so many dif-
ferent things can be aptly described as games, how can librarians play a role in this discussion
and what types of games should we focus on?
As an academic librarian, I am particularly interested in game-based learning and how
my students can learn information literacy skills through games. The New Media Consor-
tium Horizon Project: 2013 Higher Education Edition lists game-based learning to be
adopted within the next two to three years.2 The report suggests that games have proven
to be effective learning tools, and benecial in cognitive development and the fostering of
soft skills among learners, such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and
critical thinking.3 Educators currently use a variety of games, such as alternate reality
games and massively multiplayer online games that are goal-oriented and simulate a real-
world experience with relevance to peoples lives.4 Game-based learning is becoming more
important to educators and as a result should also be important to librarians. This directly
affects both school and academic librarians, with indirect applications for public libraries
The challenge mentioned in the Horizon Report for game-based learning is that edu-
cational games can be difcult to design well.5 As founder of the Library and Information
Technology Associations Game Making Interest Group within the American Library Asso-
ciation, I am interested in exploring how librarians and other educators can overcome the
challenge of designing fun, educational games. The Game Making Interest Group was cre-
ated to discuss and promote game making within the LITA community as well as the broader
community of librarians. To that end, the Game Making Interest Group wiki contains infor-
mation about incorporating games into instruction as well as best practices, library game
examples, and suggested readings.6
Games can be used in a variety of ways in educational situations. David Bailey, an
instructor of English, has begun to use play-throughs to teach information literacy standards
at Altamaha Technical College in Georgia. Play-throughs are simple video commentaries
created by gamers to share gaming experiences and insights.7 David has students view play-
throughs by Yogscast Sjin on Youtube to help them realize the amount of involvement
needed when conducting research.8 He has students watch the play-through series on Prison
Architect by Sjin9 because Sjin is aware and shares his presumptions, creating a product
that not only provides information, but also carefully details the process of learning.10 This

4 Introduction

is a wonderful way that an English instructor is using game elements to teach students about
the information literacy process.
In addition to game-based learning, there are many other areas within the broad topic
of games that affect librarians. Some public libraries have been circulating video games for
a number of years. A variety of libraries have begun using games or game-like events for
outreach purposes, such as scavenger hunts or game nights. Incorporating games into library
services can help increase patron engagement and interaction. This book discusses innovative
and unique ways of using games in libraries.
The rst essay, Levels of Game Creation by Cecilia Sirigos, discusses the characteristics
of Generation Y (Millennials), how the popularity of gaming culture has inuenced learn-
ing, and what librarians can borrow from video games and integrate into information literacy
sessions to create an environment of engaged learning. Described in this essay are three
stages of game incorporation: Newbie, Seasoned Player, and Level Five Sorceress. Each
level offers suggestions on ways to combine game characteristics into instruction sessions
and examples from academic institutions currently employing such tactics. Finally a short
resource list is included for librarians interested in creating games in their own information
literacy sessions.
The next essay, Knowing When to Create a Library Game by Mary J. Snyder Brous-
sard, discusses the decision to create a game. Designing educational games is often a time-
consuming and usually risky pedagogical strategy. There have been a number of successful
and not-so-successful games in libraries, the success or failure of which is rooted in the
context of the game as much as the design itself. How does an instructional librarian choose
between a game rather than another activity? Because good games that go beyond testing
trivia knowledge are so difcult to design, the most important factor is to nd situations
to embed games that have a high return on investment. In some cases, this may be a fre-
quently taught course or a heavily-attended orientation. In other cases, it may be an impor-
tant opportunity to market the library in a new light, a unique way to be highly visible
on campus. The second most important factor is the ability to nd a game that ts well
within the situation, context, or restraints and still supports its goals (whether they are for
learning or marketing). The third most important factor is considering the potential for
students (and faculty) to participate. Are they likely to come on their own, or will they be
required to come by professors? The nal important factor is the availability of resources
to support the game, whether time or money. These four factors should be carefully con-
sidered, and only if the game designers are condent of these four criteria should they pro-
The third essay, The State of the Game: ALA Games and Gaming Round Table by
Diane Robson, Scott Nicholson and Darlene McPeek, discusses the American Library Asso-
ciations new Games and Gaming Round Table. The round table has the simple mission
of providing a place for exchanging ideas and concerns about games in libraries. This
includes supporting game programming in libraries by offering support for librarians and
creating an awareness of the value of different types of gaming and play. This essay goes
into detail about the history of the ALA Games and Gaming Round Table and the groups
activities, including facilitating connections, assistance with programming ideas, publica-
tions, and collection development of games. An overview of gaming in libraries is also pro-
In Gamication in Libraries, Carli Spina denes gamication with a particular focus
on the best denition of the topic for a library setting. The essay also provides an overview
Introduction 5

of the advantages and potential problems with using gamication principles. To illustrate
these concepts and to inspire libraries interested in integrating gamication into their services,
the essay also includes case studies of several libraries that have experience with gamication.
These case studies highlight how gamication has been used at universities and public
libraries as well as for librarian professional development. The essay details the key positive
and negative aspects of gamication and presents concrete factors for readers to consider
when deciding whether gamication is right for their library.
In Changing the Game: Using Badges to Assess Information Literacy Instruction
Andrew Battista discusses gamication in more detail by focusing on badges. In higher
education, there is a turn toward digital badges and other game-based learning elements
to replace traditional pedagogical methods. Digital badges, or representations of skills,
literacies, and competencies, motivate student participation and provide a concrete way
to assess accomplishments in the classroom. Academic libraries are particularly well-
positioned to use badges to catalyze information literacy instruction, and badges in
turn provide an effective means of measuring the impact of library instruction on student
learning. This essay outlines several models for implementing badge systems in information
literacy instruction settings and suggests ways badges can create new contexts for learning
in libraries.
The next essay is a useful tool for library professionals eager to incorporate literature
into their game-based programs. In Creating a Literary Gaming Experience, Heath Ward
provides insight into a practiced method of creating a literary gaming experience in a public
library, while offering a useful selection of game suggestions that already have a direct con-
nection to literature. This essay also contains a selection of literary gaming program case
studies that have been implemented successfully in public libraries. Through the under-
standing of the information in this essay and the desire to create a literary gaming experience,
the reader has the potential to introduce individuals to a lifelong love of reading in addition
to providing entertaining and exciting programs.
K. G. McAbee discusses the process of creating a role playing game (RPG) in Welcome
to My Multiverse: Gaming for the Most Voracious and Eclectic of Avid Readers. She pro-
vides a discussion on how to create a game for readers of all ages who have knowledge of
various forms of genre ction, including fantasy, pulp, horror and science ction. The game
ideas are inspired by two books: the urban fantasy Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines, published
in 2012, and The Number of the Beast, science ction by Robert A. Heinlein published a
generation earlier in 1980. Each book brings out and discusses, in different ways, the power
and allure of imaginary worlds for readers. The game development utilizes these concepts
and follows a scheme laid out by various gaming professionals.
In the Library with the Candlestick: Adapting Clue for the Special Collections Library
by Emily Jack and Jonathan McMichael discusses UNC-Chapel Hills Wilson Library,
which houses the universitys special collections. In addition to public service areas for
researchers, Wilson Library also contains exhibit spaces that feature compelling and fre-
quently changing exhibits, as well as large study areas for students and the public. But
despite the librarys assets, undergraduate students tend to avoid the building completely.
From its daunting Beaux-Arts limestone faade to its monumental Roman dome and con-
fusing internal layout, Wilson Library has developed a reputation among students for being
a fairly uninviting space. In an effort to acknowledge and overcome these preconceptions,
staff at the Wilson Library developed a game for students to play in the library in conjunction
with the Halloween season. Adapted from the feel and gameplay of the Hasbro board game
6 Introduction

Clue, this immersive live action game played on the librarys mysterious reputation. Based
on staff observations and student feedback, the game successfully achieved its objectives of
changing students perceptions of Wilson Library. This essay addresses the process of con-
ceptualizing, creating, and executing the Clue game, with attention to successful and unsuc-
cessful elements, observations of and feedback from students, and ideas to improve for
future iterations of the game.
In the next essay, Learning with Games in Medicine and Healthcare and the Potential
Role of Libraries, Bohyun Kim focuses on educational or serious games, which attempt to
enhance the students experience and learning outcomes by applying the gaming elements
and mechanisms to instruction. Medical education is one of the elds in which a signicant
body of literature exists on serious games. But there is a lack of methodologically strong
evidence for the pedagogical efcacy of educational games as an instructional strategy com-
parable to other traditional teaching methods. This essay will review what educational games
are currently used in medicine and healthcare, examine how games are being received as a
learning tool and an instructional strategy by students, healthcare practitioners, and edu-
cators, and discuss the literature on the efcacy of a game as a pedagogical means. The
mechanism in which game dynamics operate to engage and motivate players, the difculty
of assessing the pedagogical efcacy of an educational game, considerations for drawing the
maximum benet out of a game embedded in instruction, and the importance of technical
and logistical support for instructors are also discussed in this essay. Lastly, Bohyun reviews
two cases of educational games used by medical and health sciences libraries and discusses
the potential role medical and health sciences libraries can play in facilitating the adoption
of educational games for optimal use.
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure: Using an Interactive Information Literacy Game
to Reach Transfer Students by Andrew Kearns, Breanne A. Kirsch and Chris Vidas is about
an information literacy game created for transfer students to play. Blackbeards Treasure is
the result of a three-year development of outreach to transfer students, who make up as
much as one-half of new students at University of South Carolina Upstate each semester.
It is based to a large degree on a tutorial administered to transfer students on a voluntary
basis through the test feature of the Blackboard course management system. The transfor-
mation of a test-like tutorial into an interactive online game, taking account of the educa-
tional goals and the creative process, is one aspect of the story. But of equal importance is
the story of the collaborations the librarians developed with administrators, faculty, students,
and staff that such an undertaking requires.
Jason J. Battles discusses alternate reality games (ARGs) in Beyond the Board: Alternate
Reality Games in Libraries. ARGs are primarily used to market movies, television shows,
and video games, but their use outside the entertainment industry has grown signicantly
in recent years. ARGs are a great format for libraries considering game building. They require
less technical resources and time investment than many other game genres. ARGs rely on
existing social media applications and ctional websites to develop characters and weave a
story lled with hidden clues and puzzles. Libraries can integrate their own resources into
an ARG that highlights collections, promotes services, and provides instruction. This essay
looks at the history of the genre and discusses some of the specic ARGs that libraries have
already built. This examination includes the variety of approaches that a few libraries have
taken in creating their games. It also provides an honest look at the positives and negatives
of these implementations. In addition, the essay addresses ways in which library use of ARGs
can be improved to better t our unique environment.
Introduction 7

A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games by Mary J. Snyder Broussard describes
ways to create successful games. The Snowden Library at Lycoming College has a good deal
of game design experience, from a game-based orientation launched in 2009, to several
online tutorial-games, to the campus history game for the colleges bicentennial celebrations,
to an annual Harry Potter Night. Some are online, some are in-person, and some are a
hybrid of the two. Most of these examples have been extremely successful, while others were
not. What can other potential game designing librarians learn from this experience? Good
games can be produced with very small budgets, though administrative support and staff
time are critical. Productive pessimism goes a long way: assume every game will take much
more time than you think it will; close loopholes where students might cheat; and make
sure you have an audience who will play the game. Finally, it cannot be emphasized enough
that thorough testing must be done on any game before it goes live if it is anything beyond
a question-answer trivia game. Any linear game (where tasks must be accomplished in a
certain order), whether online or in person, can utterly disintegrate during gameplay if
players nd a glitch that cannot be surmounted. Mary found it critical to have at least one
very creative librarian and one exceptionally organized librarian involved in game design,
even if the organized librarian is only involved in testing. During this testing process, student
feedback should be sought, and not only from student workers. Finally, games should ideally
be incorporated into instruction with a well-structured debrieng activity. This is something
librarians at Lycoming College continue to struggle with, as some of these games are not
played directly under librarian supervision, or the librarians do not have access to these stu-
dents directly after the gameplay. Considering these suggestions should increase your games
chance of success.
Lastly, Game Making Resources for Librarians, A-Z and Beyond: An Annotated Bib-
liography by Jonathan Kirsch provides professionals with a vetted resource toolkit to jump-
start their efforts in conceptualizing, developing, and fullling their game making goals.
This essay focuses on a variety of game making sources that are useful to academic, public,
school, and even special libraries. Several key areas of game making resources are critically
dened and analyzed. Crucial topics include resources for understanding video game culture,
game making to promote general library instruction, game making to enhance information
literacy, game making to create interactive library orientations for new users, and overall
best practices for digital game making and game promotion in libraries.

1. Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springeld, Massachusetts, Merriam-Webster,
Incorporated: 2003), 513.
2. NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition, The New Media Consortium, February 2013,
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Game Making Interest Group Wiki, accessed March, 27, 2013, http://gamemakinginterestgroup.
7. David Bailey, interview by Breanne Kirsch, February 28, 2013.
8. Ibid.
9. Yogscast Sjin, Prison Architect, last modied February 4, 2013,
10. Bailey interview.
8 Introduction

Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springeld, Massachusetts, Merriam-Webster, Incorporated,
2003: 513.
NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. The New Media Consortium. February 2013. 6. http://
Yogscast Sjin. Prison Architect. Last modied February 4, 2013.
Levels of Game Creation

The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, reporting $67 billion in
revenue for 2012.1 Projected growth for the next ve years is estimated to reach $82
billion and includes online and physical hardware/software, portable devices, and games
for computer, console and mobile devices. A signicant portion of the undergraduate
and graduate population play games; one-third of game players fall into this category.
With so many tech-savvy students, information literacy instructors can learn from the enter-
tainment software industry and borrow video game techniques to create engaging library
This chapter will introduce readers to characteristics of the Millennial generation, par-
ticularly how they learn, and outline game techniques that instruction librarians can modify
to create more meaningful learning experiences for this group of students. Examples are
given for three levels of adopting gaming techniques, from libraries just embarking on the
pursuit of active learning to those seeking upgrades of more challenging library orientation
From the Super Mario theme to Pac Mans waka-waka to the characters from World
of Warcraft icons representing the popular gaming culture are prevalent and associated with
Generation Y. However, these icons also pose an educational conundrum: Who are these
gamers and how do we teach them?

Player Stats
Alternatively known as the Millennials (also Gen Y, the Nintendo generation, the Echo
Boomers, the Net generation, and other names), this age bracket contains birthdays from
1981 through 1999.2 Accustomed to technology being a key part of their lives through video
games, computers, smartphones, etc., this generation accumulates impressive technology
usage statistics. According to a report released in 2012 through a partnership with the Pew
Research Center:
95% of teens ages 1217 are online
76% use social networking sites
77% have cell phones
96% of 1829 year olds are internet users
84% use social networking sites
97% have cell phones and over half of the people in this demographic have
smartphones and 23% own a tablet.3

10 Games in Libraries

The Entertainment Software Associations Sales, Demographics and Usage Data report
from 2012 indicates that a typical American home possesses a minimum of one PC, game
console or smartphone dedicated to gaming with the majority owning two (on average). In
32% of game players are 18 years old or younger, and 31% are between the ages of
18 and 35.
33% of games are played on smartphones
62% of gamers play games with others, either in person or online
78% play games with others for at least one hour each week
33% play games socially
16% of social gamers play with parents
34% who play socially play with other family members
40% play with their friends
17% play with a signicant other or their spouse4

Age of the Geek5: Learning Traits /Preferences of Gen Y

Disconnects between the tech-savvy Millennials and their professors occur because, in
many cases, each grew up in distinctly different cultures. Todays college students have been
inundated with technology, are familiar with diverting attention from one aspect of their
multimedia-rich lives to another and are capable of keeping up with fast-paced information.6
Millennials are noted as being more socially driven than preceding generations, favoring
peer interaction, always having access to communication methods and information, being
resourceful and fast learners accustomed to consulting whatever sources from any available
source to nd answers, and needing instant feedback in order to adjust their actions accord-
ingly.7 Finally, Millennials are persistent; winning a video game can take upwards of 50 to
100 hours, even for serious players.8
However, in spite of the ability to juggle multiple sources of constant information,
Millennials bore easily and, in order to keep them focused, they need stimulation and
ongoing feedback; they appreciate interactive situations, prefer to arrive at their own con-
clusions and may not effectively absorb information presented in lecture format.9
To those unfamiliar with todays gaming, players appear to be engaged in a solitary
endeavor. However, this is a misconception; gaming is surprisingly social: players commu-
nicate in person, often gaming in the company of others. Through virtual communication
channels, gamers request information and assistance from their peers and share their own
triumphs through blogs, chat rooms, instant messaging platforms, and community message
boards.10 Because of the peer-driven culture, Generation Yers are also more likely to see
instructors as less credible than their cohorts. In order to be seen as trustworthy and keep
the attention of Millennial students, the instructor needs to be relatable, engaging, enter-
taining and able to provide variety in learning material.11 In their message boards and chat
rooms, players need to be able to effectively and succinctly communicate a problem using
correct terminology, a process corresponding with the information literacy procedure. This
similarity provides library faculty with a common ground when instructing students in
research practices.
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 11

Video games (including computer, console, handheld and phone games) present inter-
esting perspectives absent in many traditional educational settings. While gaming, players
assume the persona of an avatar a character whose goals the player must fulll in order
to advance in the game and whose strengths, limitations and values the player must adopt.
What video games allow players to do is to survey a world as an insider, to experiment with
what it means to operate from the view of characters in the game.13 Along with altering a
players perspective, video games encourage active professionals individuals whose knowl-
edge is specic, tied to precise skills, distinct values and intelligence acquired by dedicating
time and effort to being in the world in a certain way with a certain style and operating
by certain values.14 The more practice, the more players learn about how the virtual world
operates, the function of the avatar, what the character needs to do to accomplish a task,
and how to retrieve the information needed to complete a goal. Finally, video games present
the opportunity for gamers to acquire concentrated knowledge instead of general, across-
the-board knowledge found in educational settings.15
As gamers become an increasingly signicant portion of the academic population,
they bring a unique set of challenges to instructors, chiey regarding student engagement.
Library information orientation classes lend themselves to incorporating techniques borrowed
by games. By taking into consideration the overall traits of Generation Y, their comfort with
technology, their preference for peer collaboration and the need to be entertained, librarians
can maximize student attention and retention during information orientation classes.
Consider the remainder of the chapter a walkthrough a walkthrough is a step-by-
step guide on how to master a particular level, beat the boss, or win the game highlighting
appealing aspects of video games that can be modied to t information orientation and
literacy classes. By addressing simulation, context, point-of-view, control, trial and error,
and incorporating these concepts into information orientation classes, even at the most basic
level, more engaging sessions can be produced. After examining the facets adaptable to
library teaching, three levels of integration explore how libraries can make the shift with
examples from colleges and universities already embracing games or game-based strategies.
Finally, cheats (dened by James Paul Gee as ways to manipulate the games programming
to do things like give yourself extra life or more ammunition16) and tutorials will be included
to assist librarians in getting started with their own gaming initiatives.

Perspective and Context

Games provide the chance for students to experience the world from alternative per-
spectives while navigating new surroundings and exploring new interactions. A strategy
compatible with any budgetary constraint, a change of perspective can be as uncomplicated
as implementing a pre-constructed background or case study into the library session or as
elaborate as a specially coded program. The key to simulation is putting the research ori-
entation session into context. For Millennials, context is necessary for engagement, demon-
strates what type of person acts within the simulated environment and why research skills
taught in library orientation extend past collegiate careers. Simulation techniques put sce-
narios into context and allow for exploration and mistakes in a situation where an error
carries little to no external consequences, but prepares the students for actions they need
and want to take in order to accomplish their goals.17
12 Games in Libraries

Developed for Nintendo game systems, Lego Batman enables players to experience
Gotham City as Batman or Robin and then switch sides, wreaking havoc as any of the
dozen bad guys in the Batman universe. This particular game addresses both perspective and
context. Clearly a players motive shifts from save Gotham City and lock up the baddies
to destroy Gotham City and Batman and Robin with shifts in goals and allegiances depend-
ing on which side a gamer chooses to play.18 Similarly, the Grand Theft Auto franchise exem-
plies perspective and context by placing players into situations and roles they are unlikely
to experience and puts boosting cars into a framework where the player understands the
motivation for doing what their avatar needs or wants to do.19 Finally, World of Warcraft is
a brilliant example of context as a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing
game), players participate in the role of a character living in the games world with some
players construct[ing] entire background histories for their characters and adopt[ing] unique
mannerisms when they are in character.20 By investing in the games world, World of War-
craft places the gamer into a role and situation where they have to see the game world as
their character does and act accordingly.

Point of View and Control

By constructing orientation sessions to present in the rst-person or third-person point
of view, the librarian puts the student in the drivers seat and fosters active learning where
students discover and dene the information as needed.21 In an instruction session, the
use of rst-person or third-person point of view allocates control of the learning process to
the student. Control parallels the inherent structure of video games where it is the players
exploration that is the catalyst for the progression of the narrative. The player is responsible
for learning the ins and outs of the game. Repurposing these qualities for library instruction
gives students motivation to become engaged in their own learning.
First-person shooters and real-time strategy games are prime examples of both point
of view and control where players are the driving force behind any advancement. Age of
Empires is a series of real-time strategy games where players build their civilizations and
armies from scratch. Then the player will have the opportunity to use the army to ght
one or more players (real people or the computer) who have also been building up their
civilizations during the same time.22 Call of Duty is a series of rst-person and third-person
shooter games set in a variety of wartime conicts (World War II, the Cold War, present
day, a future time period, and even one involving zombies).23 What both of these genres of
games present is the concept of a player driving the action forward; they are invested in the
success of the mission, campaign, or battle. Because their individual actions push the story
forward, players are willing to put in the time and effort to learn to the ins and outs of these
demanding games.

Trial and Error

The trial and error method is already familiar to Generation Y. In fact, when learning
a new video game, players rarely read the manual before jumping in to the action. In a
game, if a player is unsuccessful, they simply start over and try a different approach to
obstacles. Trial and error permits players to search for solutions.24 With the preference for
explorative learning in mind, information literacy instructors role morphs from teaching
students how to research to teaching them patience with their trial and error [and a] more
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 13

strategic and critical approach to exploration.25 Manuals, walkthroughs and any other kind
of assistance are accessed when trial and error no longer works.26
Restructuring of a library orientation session to include gaming aspects is feasible and
can be adapted to t a wide range of staff talent, budgetary constraints, and technical expe-
rience. Just like video games, there are multiple levels for incorporation and subsequent
characteristics build upon the previous level.
In American McGees Alice series, the player controls grown-up Alice as she explores
a drastically altered and horribly dilapidated Wonderland that parallels her own insanity.
Striving to save Wonderland, and in doing so, restore Alices sanity, the player in this third-
person action game explores Wonderland as it has become, discovering secrets and nding
memories hidden throughout the game.27 Though the game comes with a casebook from
Alices ctitious doctor, it is through actually trying to play the game that a player learns
the ins and outs of Wonderland.
Similarly, in Mega Run, a mobile game developed by GetSet Games, the player learns
how to play the game through actual gameplay as Redford (the little red monster whose
brother and sister the gamer is trying to save from kidnapped monsters).28 Unlike Alice, there
is no casebook for Mega Run; the player must learn how to avoid the various monsters, and
how to navigate the obstacles in the various levels and worlds all through trial and error.

Newbie: (n) an inexperienced player, a newcomer.
As the name suggests, this level of game incorporation into information literacy and
orientation sessions is for those newest to the concept. The Newbie Level techniques are
basic, geared towards positively engaging students in the research process by simply restruc-
turing to t a more narrative atmosphere as opposed to a lecture. While this list is not
exhaustive, it provides suggestions on strategies that shift focus away from the instructor
and onto the students. These alterations require minor preparation and few outside resources.

Switch in Perspective
Students are far more interested in anything pertaining to them than content seen as
irrelevant, boring, or simply not motivating.29 In video games, it is the players job to move
along the story instead of being tasked with keeping pace with someone elses agenda. When
players are the ones driving a mission, their learning is active and they are able to discover
what works for them instead of simply following guidelines step-by-step. By simply changing
How do I (the librarian) nd? to How do I (the student) nd? the instructor creates
a situation where the switch in perspective [links] complex, abstract ideas with everyday
experiences30 and this alteration puts the students into a more receptive frame of mind
because now, its about them; they are the catalyst for the progression of their own learn-

Tell a Story
Classes implementing scenario-based discussion or case studies bring information lit-
eracy into perspective for students. Context provides relevance, something often lacking in
14 Games in Libraries

many educational settings (case in point, hearing the dreaded When am I ever going to need
to know this? question). Both case studies and scenario-based sessions provide initial engage-
ment while creating a circumstance where research skills are necessary and relevant infor-
mation is explained upfront.31 Games employ very clear objectives build an empire, save
the world, kill the zombies.32 In addition to providing context and relevance, scenario-
based sessions enable students to identify with the material, increasing the likelihood of
retention. The key is to keep the student as a driving force in the story while allowing them
plenty of time to practice in a situation in which practice is actually fun.33
Kirstin Steele is Collection Management librarian at the Citadels Daniel Library, only
occasionally lling in for orientation and instruction sessions. But when she does, she likes
to keep things simple: Introduce three things, Cover three things, Quiz for three things.
For example, at orientation, bombarding freshmen with details about interlibrary loan and
audio books seems pointless. Start Early, Visit Often, and Ask for Help are the only topics
Steele addresses. Illustrations about starting ones assignments and papers early can include
the mention of books and databases if questions arise. Make sure students know they are
welcome and at ease in the library, that the library has a coffee bar and snack and soda
machines, and that staff and faculty enjoy getting to know students. Finally, underscore the
fact that library faculty and staff are paid to help them learn how to become better students
and that asking for help can save them time. Steele likes to throw in a parallel scenario like
being reluctant to ask for help nding something specic in a confusing retail store. People
who work there are paid to help customers nd things.34

Give Help as Needed

This suggestion caters to the partiality Generation Y has for learning through trial and
error. Students would rather explore the simulation rst and consult text and resources when
they get stuck.35 The trial and error approach provides library instructors with the oppor-
tunity to teach at the point of need36 while decreasing the amount of instructor-dominated
time going over handouts that never see the light of day.37 Millennials prefer input from
reference sources (including instructors) just in time (when they can use it) and on
demand (when they feel they need it).38 If inundated with an abundance of instruction
and texts before confronting the problem or before understanding relevance and potential
scenarios where such information would be helpful, little is retained.
In my freshman-seminar introduction classes, I often give a brief crash course to
searching techniques and allot the majority of the time to students performing group
searches. This way Im able to address the search issues as they arise and can point out
explanations when the class gets stuck. Additionally, the students have often surprised me
with solutions of their own discovery.

Team Up
For Millennials, collaboration with peers in an academic setting mirrors real world sit-
uations where they will be expected to operate as part of a team. While often a challenge
for instructors, when collaboration succeeds, it strengthens prior knowledge, facilitates fur-
ther questions and exploration, and fosters a peer-learning environment where students
have the opportunity to act as experts.39 Unfortunately, more often than not, classrooms
are rarely spaces where everyone shares lots of interests and knowledge even though each
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 15

person has his or her own intensive knowledge to add as a potential resource for others.40
By taking advantage of the collaborative aspects of video games, incorporating peer-learning
and peer-teaching opportunities into information literacy sessions, instructors return focus
to the students and allow the opportunity for them to showcase acquired knowledge.
Prior to joining the Citadel library faculty, Reference and Instruction librarian Rachael
Elrod had the opportunity to observe an interesting use of team work in the University of
Louisvilles COM 111 class. The Instruction Librarian spends the rst few minutes of the
class explaining the various ways that researchers evaluate information such as authority,
objectivity, quality, coverage & corroboration, currency, and relevance. The students are
then divided into teams and given an assignment to solve together related to one more of
the evaluation processes. Further, each team is given a different type of material to evaluate
such as a website, a Wikipedia page, an Encyclopedia, a book, and so on. At the end of the
class the teams take turns presenting their ndings to the class.41
At the Citadel, library instruction is always directed toward a specic assignment.
Recently, these classes have centered on the summer reading book Killer Angels, by Michael
Shaara. As students entered the classroom, they were handed a card with an image of one
of the Civil War generals. Students with the same card/general were asked to sit together.
After an introduction of a few library resources by Reference and Instruction librarians such
as Elise Wallace, each group was assigned a different resource, i.e. Academic Search Premier,
Library Catalog, WWW, and the American Civil War Diaries primary source database.
Students were asked to locate materials for the research assignment. After ten or so minutes,
a peer-teaching opportunity is presented. Each group shared what they found, as well as a
brief description of the resource, and what search strategy was most successful.42

Seasoned Player

Seasoned Player: (n) a gamer with experience.

The second level of game incorporation highlights colleges and universities employing
low tech, interactive experiences to engage students in information literacy and orientation
sessions. Games in this category are considered Retro Games (old school games produced
during the 1980s and 1990s), requiring prior preparation, organization and teamwork on
the part of library faculty. Some examples may additionally entail securing minor outside
resources or funding. The Seasoned Player level relies on and expands upon the following
characteristics of the Newbie level:
telling a story
setting the activities in rst-person perspective
teaming up

Retro Gaming
With the current focus on digital material, games in the non-digital genre often receive
less notice. However, low tech or Retro Games that use dice, pen-and-paper, cards or
board game layouts are equally effective forms of interactive learning as digital counterparts.43
These initiatives can be the work of a single librarian or serve as an opportunity for the
entire library to become involved with creating something to engage students during ori-
16 Games in Libraries

entation sessions. Dice, pen-and-paper games, Jeopardy quizzes and reality TV style games
are pragmatic indicators of familiarity with research strategies and can be used as testing
devices after information literacy and orientation sessions are concluded. Mystery games,
scavenger hunts and knowledge quests are popular choices for more complex, non-digital
gaming initiatives as they present students a chance to work in teams, to gain familiarity
with the layout of the library itself, and to practice working with available resources before
the stress of research papers and projects sets in.
College and universities considered Seasoned Players apply creativity to pen-and-
paper/dice games or encourage exploration of library materials through hunts, knowledge
quests or mysteries.

For the Horde! 44

The following list of Seasoned Players is modied from the article, Learning Through
Quests and Contests: Games in Information Literacy Instruction.45 For each college or
university there is a brief description of what games are implemented within library ses-


The University of Notre Dame uses an assortment of pen-and-paper games to foster
student development of information literacy skills, including Tic-Tac-Toe, crossword puzzles,
word nds, and word jumbles featuring course-related information literacy topics.46 Notre
Dames Hesburg Libraries also offer an online information literacy tutorial called Pot of
Gold.47 Available to students and the public, the tutorial is composed of six modules explain-
ing important facets of information literacy. Testing patron understanding through short,
multiple choice questions concludes each section.


The University of North Carolina at Greensboro operates a web-based board game in
which players (up to four) move around the board by rolling dice and answering questions
that fall into four categories.48 Created by the library faculty, the Information Literacy Game
has a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license, meaning it
can be adapted for another schools use and distributed to that schools patrons, but must
be attributed to the creators.49


Mini-games at Carnegie Mellon University teach students to nd relevant research
topic information and introduce students to the locating materials via classication systems.
Ill get it! is an arcade-style game geared toward the evaluation of research materials; the
central character is charged with assisting classmates in catalog searching. In Within Range
players are tasked with properly shelving books using the Library of Congress Classication


Ohio State students participate in a mystery quest for the head of the university mascot,
Brutus Buckeye, hidden as a prank by Michigan fans. The game introduces Ohio State stu-
dents to the multiple library locations and various services. Head Hunt is played online with
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 17

players selecting a virtual location for the starting point and playing a mini game or watching
a video. Successful completion of each level results in receiving a letter of the alphabet. As
students progress through the game, more letters are awarded until enough are acquired and
the players unscramble the location of Brutus Buckeyes head.51


Face the Case delivers case studies through Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) technology,
challenging players to solve cases related to human services and health.52 Citation Tic-Tac-
Toe requires successful identication of a citation format in order to win the square. Incor-
rect identication causes a player to lose a square.53 Magnetic Keyword instructs players
to read a search phrase and drag-and-drop the most applicable keywords to the answers
area. Correct answers receive two points and partially correct answers receive one point.
Ten points are needed to level up.54


The University Library at Georgia State combines social media and gaming to introduce
students to library resources through a scavenger hunt. Clues are posted through Twitter
and Facebook hinting at the location of knitted art objects placed somewhere in the library.
Students search the library catalog and other resources to locate these hand-made objects.
First and second place prizes are awarded.55

Williams College participates in a mystery tour to introduce incoming students to the
library facility and materials. The library faculty challenge themselves to create new mysteries
each year, making the mystery hunt engaging.56 Online videos are integrated into the mys-
tery, rst as a humorous introduction for both the Colleges reference librarians and then
for the mystery itself. In 2007, with the acting talents of library and university faculty, the
College library created a lm-noir introduction to the latest mystery the disappearance
of a watch, owned by founder Ephraim Williams, from the College Archives. As students
progress through the videos, they receive clues as to the location of the watch.

Level Five Sorceress 57

Level Five Sorceress: (n) a player with a high level of experience; an experienced player.
The nal level is Level Five Sorceress. Games in this category offer plenty of chances
for collaboration among the library faculty and staff along with other campus departments,
student groups, and other academic institutions. Partnership opportunities extend from
elaborate, coordinated storylines used in quests to interdepartmental cooperation in pro-
ducing multi-player gaming experiences. External funding and expertise will likely come
into play. Collaboration with other academic organizations may ll any gaps in coding or
programming experience.

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) employ a range of digital platforms to communicate
clues with the players. For instance, Alternate Reality Games frequently make use of emails,
18 Games in Libraries

websites, MP3s and DVDs, web cams, blogs, instant and text messaging, handheld GPS
devices and networked game consoles58 to ofciate gameplay. Players interact with technology
as they conduct research (sometimes even on the y) and share their results. Designed to
encourage partnerships, Alternate Reality Games require players to team up while solving
embedded puzzles and navigating obstacles. This particular sort of game can be lengthy in
the amount of time it takes to play (weeks, possibly even months), involve a large number
of participants working a mystery or problem impossible to solve alone.59 The necessity
of cooperation draws the principle of cross-functional afliation into play60 where the
players have a specialty, are centered on a collective goal, and must learn to be good at
his/her special skills and also learn to integrate these skills as a team member within a whole.61
The following libraries play ARGs to incorporate information literacy and library ori-
entation into the game itself.


Students at the University of Florida participate in an ARG called Humans vs. Zombies.
According to the Human vs. Zombies website, the Alternate Reality Game is a moderated
tag [game] played at schools, camps, neighborhoods, military bases and conventions across
the world.62 Games at the University of Florida, involve over 1,400 players.63 As the Uni-
versity of Floridas campus becomes overrun with zombies the non-infected students are
able search the libraries LibGuide dedicated to surviving the zombie invasion. In addition,
the LibGuide highlights collection material such as videos, maps, instructions for off-campus
access to library collection materials, DVDs, survival guides, highlighted books for zombies
and literature dedicated to Awakening the Dead.64 There are even directions to make a
Voodoo Good Luck Charm.

The Coates Library at Trinity University uses a mystery Alternate Reality Game to incor-
porate the library experience into a real-world situation a treasure hunt. The mystery hunt,
called Blood on the Stacks, employs multi-media to present the video surveillance tape of a
library theft. Described by the games website as part game, part real-life treasure hunt, part
library experience, Blood on the Stacks is introduced to incoming Trinity University students
during the two-day orientation session.65 The game incorporates aspects of Egyptology, treasure
hunting, virtual clues and awards the results deemed best-researched a monetary prize.66


Coinciding with the annual open house at Penn State, incoming students participate
in an Alternate Reality Game that assesses research techniques and use of university research
resources. As the ARG became part of the open house, it also became an opportunity for
cross-campus interaction among the Penn State Libraries, Educational Gaming Commons
and the Digital Commons.67 According to the Penn State Library webpage on Digital Gam-
ing, the storyline of the Alternate Reality Game centers on a magic trick by [university]
President Spanier went awry, and now the original Nittany Lion [mascot] has disap-
peared.68 As students progress through the game sequences, clues are unearthed, eventually
leading to a magic spell that returns the Lion.
01110000 01110010 01101111
01100111 01110010 01100001 01101101
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 19

Undertaking the challenge of creating a program (expressed in binary above)69 the

gaming equivalent of facing the nal boss (a powerful opponent faced by a player at the
end of the game). Libraries up to the task of creating a coded, interactive gaming experience
will require extensive dedication of both time and resources. From the get-go, librarians
need to be involved in the planning and storyboard process. If no one in-house has the nec-
essary programming skills, then a project such as a programmed game provides a stellar
opportunity for interdepartmental, inter-institutional, or even contracted cooperation.


Quarantined! Axl Wise and the Information Outbreak is a digital game programmed using
Adobe Flash and is available online for both students as well as the general public. The
creation process began with games, gameplay and gaming then expanded to include playing
many types of games: board games, games on DVD, Massive Multiplayer Online Games
(MMOGs) and online Flash games.70 During the rst phase of game development, a paper-
based board game was implemented, serving as a stepping stone in the actual game-building
process. Due to the desire for web delivery and the ability to obtain the services of a local
programmer and designer, Flash was chosen as the platform.71 The faculty from Arizona
State Universitys Fletcher Library constructed the story around the premise of a campus-
wide viral outbreak. Playing as the protagonist, students navigate the campus, avoid infected
colleagues and HAZMAT-clad containment crew (who can be bribed with candy bars if you
get detained) while pursuing information instrumental to curing the collegiate population.72

Librarians from the Snowden Library at Lycoming College used Flash in creating a
game to take traditional classroom activities and deliver them through a fun medium.73
Secret Agents in the Library puts students into the shoes of a rookie secret agent on the case
of an invasion of the information mainframe by an intruder.74 The program was created
by Mary Broussard using Flash software along with introductory Flash manuals.75 The Secret
Agents game was created to assist English 106 students.76 The game begins with the rookie
agents (the game players) receiving a fax from some mysterious source giving instruction
on how students are to navigate the game by presenting it as a mission. The tutorial covers
the identication of resource categories, use of library catalog, how to locate material by
the call number system and navigating the databases.77

In order to address the observed difculty undergraduate students encounter when
conducting research in an environment inundated with digital information, the University
of Michigans School of Information created an online board game called Defense of Hidgeon.
The premise of the game puts players in the 14th century at the peak of the Bubonic Plague.78
To play, a digital dice is rolled and players travel around the medieval Duchy of Hidgeon
where they are tasked with scrutinizing information in Duchy libraries about plagues, past,
present, and future.79 The players, in order to complete the quest will need to use citation
indexes, subject-orientated databases, web pages and online encyclopedia articles.80


George Washington University developed a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online
Role-Playing Game) to encourage collaborative learning, peer evaluation, exploration, dis-
20 Games in Libraries

covery, and critical thinking, and that would appeal to the current student generations pref-
erence for learning.81 While popular, MMORPG games are quite complex, requiring com-
prehension of intricate virtual economies and worlds, yet game players are willing to put
forth the effort to learn the game. The faculty at George Washingtons library created Muck-
rakers where players begin as cub reporters at one of three competing D.C. area magazines
that represent three different political perspectives.82 Within the scope of the game, students
gain experience formulating research questions, gathering background information, actually
performing research, and identifying and locating resources.83 Players are tasked with brain-
storming a story idea and then vote on the best proposal. The winner is determined via an
internal calculating group of evaluations.

For those interested in programming virtual games for their own library instruction
sessions, here are some resources (some freely available and some requiring purchase) to
assist in the programming process.

Inform7 is a freely available program capable of creating interactive ction and
text-based computer games.84 According to IFGuides Beginners Guide to Playing
Interactive Fiction, these games are a cross between books and computer games where the
player assumes the role of the storys main character. While the game dictates what events
occur, the player determines how the character reacts, usually with text-based interactive
commands on the part of the game and the player.85 An interactive ction game may present
the players with puzzles to move the story forward and may affect how the plot unfolds
and even the outcome of the game.86 Bioactive, built by the University of Florida, uses
Inform7 as does the game Bronze which was produced by one of Inform7s developers,
Emily Short.87

Writing with Inform,88 made available by the Inform7 website begins with an overview
of language an author will need to use and be familiar with in order to properly program
interactive ction. The examples progress in difculty as the manual chapters advance.
The Recipe Book is a manual geared more specically towards an author/programmer
wanting to accomplish a task such as asking the players name at the start of play or imple-
menting a system of measured liquids.89 Both The Recipe Book and Writing with Inform
come along with the downloadable Inform7software, but they are also available independ-
ently from the software program.
Beginners Guide to Interactive Fiction with Inform 7 90 is a guide to the programming
software presented as a wikibook. Beginning by dening terms that may be unfamiliar
to a new programmer, this is a very detailed and effective walkthrough, providing an
overview of creating the principle room, trying basic commands, introducing objects, rules,
scenery, and many other components necessary to construct an interesting game of interactive
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 21

Softimage and Maya

Both Softimage91 and Maya92 are commercial software programs available for free trials
and purchase through the Autodesk Company. The two programs are high performance,
supplying the user with 3D animation, modeling, rendering, and texturing tools for pro-
duction platforms like visual effects and development for genres such as lm, games, tele-
vision, digital visualization and digital media. Softimage was used in creating the video
game James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace.93 Maya was used in EA Sports MMA and Deux
Ex: Human Revolution.94

Digital-Tutors is dedicated to teaching the people who make movies and games. 95
Operations began in 2000 by a panel of representatives, problem-solvers, artists and pro-
fessionals. There are 2,444 online tutorials and training videos encompassing introductions,
creation of detailed models, character interaction, and facial rigging. Theres even a tutorial
suggesting which of the multiple training videos to watch.
Softimage Wiki 96 is maintained by Autodesk, but is community-based with tools, arti-
cles, tutorials, videos, discussions and papers geared toward offering assistance and education
for using Softimage. The wiki covers the YouTube channel, animation, crowd behavior,
modeling, shading and rendering among other topics.
Digital-Tutors 97 also offers tutorials (almost 8,000) on Maya software ranging from
introductory tutorials to modeling to character rigging, and even texturing animal eyes.

Java is a freely downloadable computer programming software language that enables
playing online games, use of chats, viewing of three-dimensional images and runs on more
than 850 billion personal computers worldwide and on billions of devices worldwide, includ-
ing mobile and TV devices.98 The Java programming language is class-based and object-

Java Tutorials from the Java website and are broken down into sections. Tutorials are
also available as downloadable bundles or as e-book les.

Sierra, Kathy, and Bert Bates. Head First Java. 2nd ed. Sebastopol, CA: OReilly,
2005. This book is geared toward teaching the would-be programmer to
understand object-oriented computer programming and Java language with focus
on Java 5.0 and combining puzzles, strong visuals, mysteries, and soul-searching
interviews with famous Java objects. The book is available for purchase and the
chapters are available for downloading online.99
ONeil, Joseph. Teach Yourself Java. Berkley: McGraw-Hill, 1999. This is a
guide to Java programming written by Joseph ONeil, an expert in Java. It
builds progressively upon skills from chapters focused on lessons. Teach
Yourself Java provides hands-on experience and real-life exercises of increasing
Cinnamon, Ian. Programming Video Games for the Evil Genius. New York:
22 Games in Libraries

McGraw-Hill, 2008. Written in 2008 by a 15-year-old programmer, this book

deals specically with programming video games on PC, Mac, and Linux
computers. While the book does give step-by-step instructions for programming,
there are some inconsistencies given the change in technology. The book was
published in 2008 and uses JDK 6 with NetBeans 5.5 ( JDK being Java
Development Kit and NetBeans is a Integrated Development Environment).101
However, the most recent JDK and NetBeans compilation are JDK 7u11 and
NetBeans 7.2.1. Some trial-and-error and patience is needed to gure out the

C++ is a programming language designed by Bjarne Stroustrup and is used in the cre-
ation of thousands of high-quality commercial games (for example, any video game produced
by Microsoft uses C++ programming; Blizzard Entertainment, the company that produces
World of Warcraft, Diablo and other popular games also uses C++ programming).102 The
language is object-oriented, generic programming supported and also sustains data abstrac-

Cplusplus. com104 and Cprogramming. com105 are both online tutorials for C and C++
programming languages. Cplusplus has the tutorial available for download as a PDF and
covers the basics, control structures, compound data types, object-oriented programming
and offers a standard library for input and output les.106 Cprogramming offers free tutorials
for both beginners and advanced users, covering the basics with examples and tips as well
as advanced lessons in C programming language and C++ graphics as well as algorithms
and game programming.107

Bjarne Stroustrup. Programming-Principles and Practice Using C++. Boston:
Addison-Wesley, 2009. Written by the original designer of the C++ programming
language, this book introduces C++ programming and is geared towards
beginners. According to Stroustrups website, this book is designed for classroom
use, but written with an eye for self study.108 Additionally, this book is user-
friendly, having been tested with more than 1,000 rst-year university
Dawson, Michael. Beginning C++ through Game Coding, 3rd ed. Boston: Course
Technology, 2010. A guide written for new programmers with no prior
experience, this book provides step-by-step instruction to C++ programming
with user-friendly language. The new programmers gain familiarity with C++
game programming through actual video game examples.110
McShaffry, Mike. Game Coding Complete, 4th ed. Boston: Course Technology,
2012. This book is an overview of the entire development process and game
creation obstacles, providing a hands on guide for commercial-quality games
with all the code and examples presented (having) been tested and used in
commercial video games.111
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 23


The HTML5 platform is currently supported by most major internet browsers and
eventually will be the new HTML standard. Though still a work in progress, the W3Schools
website states that the new rules for HTML5 include:
New features should be based on HTML, CSS, DOM, and JavaScript
Reduce the need for external plugins (like Flash)
Better error handling
More markup to replace scripting
HTML 5 should be device independent
The development process should be visible to the public112

The W3Schools website and HTML5 Rocks are online tutorials that offer step-by-
step instructions on getting acquainted with the HTML platform and coding. HTML5
Rocks also includes information on audience-based uses for HTML5 such as mobile, gaming
and business applications.113 Broken down into the type of instruction desired (tutorial,
articles, case studies, posts, samples and demos), the audience (mobile, gaming, business)
and technology (ofine, connectivity, semantics, 3D/Graphics, performance, storage, le
access, audio/video, presentation and nuts & bolts).114 The W3Schools website includes
tutorials on HTML5 and its uses in multimedia, graphics, local storage, semantics & forms
and CSS3.115

Flash is a commercial software platform used in the creation of multimedia segments
and animation for tablets, smartphones, television and computers.116 Flash can be used to
create responsive, interactive content.117 Lycoming College used Adobe Flash to create their
information literacy game Secret Agents in the Library.

Flash Game Dojo118 is a community for Actionscript programmers, beginners through
experienced, with FAQs, tutorials, tools and articles on designing games available for those
pursuing game programming with Flash.

All Your Base are Belong to Us 119

Traversing dungeons, ghting monsters, rescuing the occasional princess, and freeing
the world from zombies are far more familiar to Millennials than Boolean Operators, database
layouts and the Library of Congress Classication System. However, teaching students infor-
mation literacy does not need to be as formidable as facing the nal boss with almost no
health points. Engaging Millennials in active learning boils down to allowing students to
be the force in their individual research quests, collaborate with peers, receive prompt feed-
back, and putting information literacy into a relatable context.
24 Games in Libraries

1. Entertainment Software Association, Sales, Demographics and Usage Data, 2012 Essential Facts about
the Computer and Video Game Industry, 2013,
2. Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman, When Generations Collide (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 27;
Razor Suleman and Bob Nelson, Motivating the Millennials: Tapping into the Potential of the Youngest
Generation, Leader to Leader 62 (2011): 39.
3. Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, Millennials Will Benet and Suffer Due to Their Hyperconnected
Lives, Pew Research Centers Internet & American Life Project, last modied February 29, 2012, http://www., 89.
4. Entertainment Software Association, Sales, Demographics and Usage Data.
5. A phrase frequently used by Alec Hardison on TNTs Leverage (20082012) in reference to the promi-
nence of digital culture.
6. Patricia Roehling, Thomas Kooi, Stephanie Dykema, Brooke Quisenberry, and Chelsea Vandlen,
Engaging the Millennial Generation in Class Discussions, College Teaching 59 (2011), 2; Razor Suleman and
Bob Nelson, Motivating the Millennials: Tapping into the Potential of the Youngest Generation, Leader to
Leader 62 (2011), 41; Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman, When Generations Collide (New York: HarperCollins,
2002), 65.
7. Lt. Col. Kay Smith, Gaining the Edge: Connecting with the Millenials, Air Force Journal of Logistics
31 (2009), 57; Suleman and Nelson, Motivating the Millennials, 57; Lancaster and Stillman, When Gener-
ations Collide, 4041.
8. James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Information (New York: Pal-
grave MacMillan, 2007), 5.
9. Roehling, Kooi, Dykema, Quisenberry, and Vandlen, Engaging the Millennial Generation in Class
Discussions, 12; Suleman, Razor, and Bob Nelson, Motivating the Millennials, 4041.
10. Justine Martin and Robin Ewing, Power Up! Using Digital Gaming Techniques to Enhance Library
Instruction, Internet Reference Services Quarterly 12, no. 23 (2008), 217.
11. Daniel G. Kipnis and Gary M. Childs, Educating Generation X and Generation Y, Medical Reference
Services Quarterly 23, no. 4 (2005), 26; Martin and Ewing, Power Up!, 211.
12. The ability for a player to modify or alter gaming software.
13. James Paul Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games Learning and
Literacy, 27th ed. (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 7, 69.
14. Ibid., 6768.
15. Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning, 102103.
16. Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Information, 97.
17. Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning, 24.
18. The LEGO Group, Video games LEGO Batman About the Game Features,
LEGOwww, 2013,
19. Take-Two Initiative Software, Inc., Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar Games, 2009, http://www.rock
20. Blizzard Entertainment, Beginners Guide Game Guide World of Warcraft,, 2012,
21. Martin and Ewing. Power Up!, 219220.
22. Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning, 92.
23. Activision Publishing, Inc., Call of Duty, Call of Duty, 2013,
24. Lancaster and Stillman, When Generations Collide, 288289.
25. Ann Brown, Paola Ceccarini, and Cathy Eisenhower, Muckrakers: Engaging Students in the Research
Process Through an Online Game, ACRL Thirteenth National Conference 1 (2007), 228.
26. Simpson, Elizabeth, Evolution in the Classroom: What Teachers Need to Know about the Video
Game Generation, TechTrends 49 (2005), 19.
27. Electronic Arts, Inc., Alice Madness Returns: American McGees Alice 2, EA Games Electronic Arts,
28. Mike McShaffry, Game Coding Complete, 4th ed. (Boston: Course Technology, 2012); Get Set Games,
Inc., Mega Run Redfords Adventure, Get Set Game, last modied March 20, 2013, http://getsetgames.
29. Simpson, Evolution in the Classroom, 17.
30. Martin and Ewing, Power Up!, 219.
31. Ibid., 220.
32. Simpson, Evolution in the Classroom, 21.
33. Martin and Ewing, Power Up!, 220; Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and
Information, 68.
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 25

34. Kirstin Steele, e-mail message to author, February 28, 2013.

35. Martin and Ewing, Power Up!, 221.
36. Brown, Ceccarini, and Eisenhower, Muckrakers, 228.
37. Doshi, Ameet, How Gaming Could Improve Information Literacy, Computers in Libraries 26 (2006),
p. 15.
38. Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning, 37.
39. Brown, Ceccarini, and Eisenhower, Muckrakers, 227.
40. Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning, 103.
41. Rachael Elrod, e-mail message to author, February 28, 2013.
42. Elise Wallace, e-mail message to author, February 28, 2013.
43. Maura A. Smale, Learning Through Quests and Contests: Games in Information Literacy Instruction,
Journal of Library and Information 2, no. 2 (2011), 43.
44. A World of Warcraft reference; the Horde factions battle cry.
45. Smale, Learning Through Quests and Contests, 3566.
46. Ibid., 44.
47. University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries, Pot of Gold, University of Notre Dame Hesburgh
Libraries, 2013,
48. Smale, Learning Through Quests and Contests, 40.
49. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Game > The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
(UNCG), The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), 2012,; Cre-
ative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3. 0 United States CC BY-NC-SA 3. 0 US, Cre-
ative Commons, 2013,
50. Carnegie Mellon Libraries, Carnegie Mellon Libraries Games, Carnegie Mellon Libraries, 2013, https://
51. Ohio State University Libraries, Head Hunt: The Game, Ohio State University Libraries, 2013, http://
52. James Madison University Libraries, Welcome to Face-the-Case, Face-the-Case, last modied January
19, 2012,
53. James Madison University Libraries, Tic-Tac-Toe Citation Game, Tic-Tac-Toe Citation Game, last
modied January 19, 2012,
54. James Madison University Libraries, MagneticPoetry2, Welcome to the Magnetic Keyword Game, last
modied January 19, 2012,
55. Georgia State University Library, Research Essentials Scavenger Hunt, University Library Blog (blog),
Georgia State University Library, last modied September 20, 2012,
56. Williams College Libraries, Library Mystery Tour, Williams College Libraries, last modied July 6,
57. A phrase used by Special Agent Timothy McGee to indicate the superiority of a gamer (Love and
War, NCIS, Season 6, Episode 14).
58. Jane McGonigal, McGonigal ARG MacArthur Foundation, Alternate Reality Gaming, 2004, www.
59. Ibid.
60. Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning, 27.
61. Ibid.
62. Gnarwhal Studios, Humans vs. Zombies, Humans vs. Zombies X The ofcial site of the Humans vs.
Zombies Game, 2010,
63. University of Florida Libraries, University of Florida Humans vs. Zombies Wiki, Humans vs.
Zombies Wiki, last modied April 30, 2012,
64. University of Florida Libraries, Awakening the Dead Zombie Survival LibGuide Guides @ UF
at University of Florida, Home Guides @ UF at University of Florida, last modied April 10, 2010, http://
65. Jeremy Donald, Blood on the Stacks, Trinity University, 2006,
66. Association of College and Research Libraries, ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award Trinity
University Elizabeth Huth Coates Library Application | Association of College and Research Libraries
(ACRL), American Library Association, 2013,
67. Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Alumni Library, Penn State Alumni Library, 2012, http://al
68. Ibid.
26 Games in Libraries

69. Convert Binary, Binary Converter Text to Binary Translator, ConvertBinarywww, 2012, http://www.
70. Bee Gallegos, Tammy Allgood, and Karen Grodin, Quarantined: The Fletcher Library Game Project,
in Thirty-Fifth Annual LOEX Library Instruction Conference Proceedings, ed. Brad Sietz and Theresa Valko,
(San Diego: LOEX Press, May 35, 2007), 133138,
71. Ibid., 134.
72. Arizona Board of Regents, Quarantined: Axl Wise and the Information Outbreak, Arizona State
University, 2007,
73. Mary J. Snyder Broussard, Secret Agents in the Library: Integrating Virtual and Physical Games in
a Small Academic Library, College and Undergraduate Libraries 17 (2010): 2030.
74. Ibid., 24.
75. Ibid., 27.
76. Lycoming College Library, Snowden Online Tutorials Lycoming College, Snowden Online Tuto-
rials, 2011,
77. Ibid.
78. Karen Markey, Fritz Swanson, Andrea Jenkins, Brian J Jennings, Beth St. Jean, Victor Rosenberg,
Xingxing Yao, and Robert L Frost, The Effectiveness of a Web-based Board Game for Teaching Undergraduate
Students Information Literacy Concepts and Skills, D-Lib 17 (2008),
79. Ibid., 2.
80. Ibid., 2.
81. Brown, Ceccarini, and Eisenhower, Muckrakers, 228.
82. Ibid., 230.
83. Ibid., 230.
84. Inform, Home: Inform, Inform, last modied January 25, 2012,
85. Ibid.; Fredrik Ramsberg, A Beginners Guide to Playing Interactive Fiction, Microheaven.comFredriks
Pages about Interactive Fiction, last modied February 17, 2003,
86. Ibid.
87. Emily Short, Bronze, Inform, last modied January 25, 2012,
88. Inform, Inform Manuals: Writing with Inform7, Inform, last modied January 25, 2012, http://
89. Inform, Inform Manuals: The Recipe Book, Inform, last modied January 25, 2012, http://inform
90. WikiBooks, Beginners Guide to Interactive Fiction with Inform 7/Getting Started with Inform 7,
WikiBooks, last modied July 5, 2011,
91. Autodesk, Softimage New Character Animation Software Features, Autodesk 3D Design & Engi-
neering Software for Architecture, Manufacturing, and Entertainment, 2013,
92. Autodesk, Maya 3D Animation Software, Autodesk 3D Design & Engineering Software for Archi-
tecture, Manufacturing, and Entertainment, 2013,
93. Autodesk, Games Autodesk Softimage, 3D Design & Engineering Software for Architecture, Man-
ufacturing, and Entertainment, 2013,
94. Autodesk, Games Autodesk Maya, 3D Design & Engineering Software for Architecture, Manufac-
turing, and Entertainment, 2013,
95. PL Studios, Inc., Digital-Tutors > Softimage Tutorials and Softimage Training, Digital-Tutors >
Tutorials and Training for CG, 3D, Animation and VFX, 2013,
96. Autodesk, Category:Tutorials The Softimage Wiki, Main Page XSI-Wiki, last modied August
31, 2012,
97. PL Studios, Inc., Digital-Tutors > Maya Tutorials and Maya Training, Digital-Tutors > Tutorials
and Training for CG, 3D, Animation and VFX, 2013,
98. Oracle, Java. com: Java + You, Java, 2013,
99. Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates, Head First Java, 2nd ed. (Sebastopol: OReilly Media, 2005).; Kathy
Sierra and Bert Bates, Head First Labs from OReilly Media, Inc.: Head First Java, Second Edition. Head
First Labs from OReilly Media, Inc., 2012,
100. Joseph ONeil, Teach Yourself Java, (Berkley: McGraw-Hill, 1999).
101. Ian Cinnamon, Programming Video Games for the Evil Genius, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008).
102. Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ Applications, C++ Applications, last modied October 3, 2012, www.strous
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 27

103. Bjarne Stroustrup, Bjarne Stroustrups Homepage, Bjarne Stroustrups Homepage, 2013, http://www.
104. Cplusplus, C++ Language Tutorial C++ Documentation, The C++ Resources Network, 2013,
105. Jeff Bezanson, C, C++ Programming Tutorials, C Learn C and C++ Program-
ming, 2011,
106. Cplusplus, C++ Language Tutorial C++ Documentation,
107. Jeff Bezanson, C, C++ Programming Tutorials,
108. Bjarne Stroustrup, Programming Principles and Practices Using C++ (Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2009).
109. Ibid.
110. Michael Dawson, Beginning C++ Through Game Coding, 3rd ed., (Boston: Course Technology, 2010).
111. Mike McShaffry, Game Coding Complete, 4th ed. (Boston: Course Technology, 2012).
112. W3Schools, HTML5 Introduction, W3Schools Online Web Tutorials, 2013, http://www.w3schools.
113. Google, HTML5 Rocks A Resource for Open Web HTML5 Developers, HTML5, last modied
March 15, 2013,
114. Ibid.
115. W3Schools, HTML5 Introduction,
116. Adobe, Animation Software, Animation Movies, Adobe Flash Professional CS6, 2013, www.adobe.
117. Adobe, Creating Your First Flash Professional CS5 document | Adobe Developer Connection, Adobe,
last modied December 22, 2012,
118. Chevy Johnston and Adam Saltsma, Flash Game Dojo: Getting Started, Flash Game Dojo, 2010,
119. The phrase All your base are belong to us is a mistranslated line from a Japanese video game called
Zero Wing. Created in 1989, the games victory declaration went viral in the early 2000s (see: http://www.

Activision Publishing, Inc. Call of Duty. Call of Duty. 2013.
Adobe. Animation Software, Animation Movies. Adobe Flash Professional CS6. 2013.
Adobe. Creating Your First Flash Professional CS5 document | Adobe Developer Connection. Adobe. Last
modied December 22, 2012.
Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. Millennials will Benet and Suffer Due to Their Hyperconnected Lives.
Pew Research Centers Internet & American Life Project. Last modied February 29, 2012. http://www.pewin
Arizona Board of Regents. Quarantined: Axl Wise and the Information Outbreak. Arizona State University.
Association of College and Research Libraries. ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award Trinity Uni-
versity Elizabeth Huth Coates Library Application | Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).
American Library Association. 2013.
Autodesk. Category:Tutorials The Softimage Wiki. Main Page XSI-Wiki. Last modied August 31, 2012.
Autodesk. Games Autodesk Maya. 3D Design & Engineering Software for Architecture, Manufacturing,
and Entertainment. 2013.
Autodesk. Games Autodesk Softimage. 3D Design & Engineering Software for Architecture, Manufacturing,
and Entertainment. 2013.
Autodesk. Maya 3D Animation Software. Autodesk 3D Design & Engineering Software for Architecture,
Manufacturing, and Entertainment. 2013.
Autodesk. Softimage New Character Animation Software Features. Autodesk 3D Design & Engineering
Software for Architecture, Manufacturing, and Entertainment. 2013.
Bezanson, Jeff. C, C++ Programming Tutorials. C Learn C and C++ Programming. 2011.
Blizzard Entertainment. Beginners Guide Game Guide World of Warcraft. 2012. http://us.
28 Games in Libraries

Broussard, Mary J. Snyder. Secret Agents in the Library: Integrating Virtual and Physical Games in a Small
Academic Library. College and Undergraduate Libraries 17 (2010): 2030.
Brown, Ann, Paola Ceccarini, and Cathy Eisenhower. Muckrakers: Engaging Students in the Research Process
Through an Online Game. ACRL Thirteenth National Conference 1 (2007): 226236.
Carnegie Mellon Libraries. Carnegie Mellon Libraries Games. Carnegie Mellon Libraries. 2013. https://lib
Cinnamon, Ian. Programming Video Games for the Evil Genius. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
Convert Binary. Binary Converter Text to Binary Translator. 2012. http://www.convert
Cplusplus. C++ Language Tutorial C++ Documentation. The C++ Resources Network. 2013. http://www.
Creative Commons. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.
Creative Commons. 2013.
Dawson, Michael. Beginning C++ through Game Coding. 3rd ed. Boston: Course Technology, 2010.
Donald, Jeremy. Blood on the Stacks. Trinity University. 2006.
Doshi, Ameet. How Gaming Could Improve Information Literacy. Computers in Libraries 26 (2006): 1417.
Electronic Arts, Inc. Alice Madness Returns: American McGees Alice 2. EA Games Electronic Arts. 2013.
Entertainment Software Association. Sales, Demographics and Usage Data. 2012 Essential Facts about the
Computer and Video Game Industry. 2013.
Gallegos, Bee, Tammy Allgood, and Karen Grodin. Quarantined: The Fletcher Library Game Project. In
Thirty-Fifth Annual LOEX Library Instruction Conference Proceedings. Ed. Brad Sietz and Theresa Valko.
San Diego: LOEX Press, May 35, 2007. 133138.
Gaudiosi, John. New Reports Forecast Global Video Game Industry Will Reach $82 Billion By 2017
Forbes. Information for the Worlds Business Leaders 2012.
Gee, James P. Good Video Games + Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games Learning and Literacy.
27th ed. New York: Peter Lang, 2007.
Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave
MacMillan, 2007.
Georgia State University Library. Research Essentials Scavenger Hunt | University Library Blog. Georgia
State University Library. Last modied September 20, 2012.
Get Set Games, Inc. Mega Run Redfords Adventure. Get Set Games. Last modied March 20, 2013.
Gnarwhal Studios. Humans vs. Zombies. Humans vs. Zombies | The ofcial site of the Humans vs. Zombies
Game. 2010.
Google. HTML5 Rocks A Resource for Open Web HTML5 Developers. HTML5. Last modied March
15, 2013.
Inform. Home: Inform. Inform. Last modied January 25, 2012.
Inform. Inform Manuals: The Recipe Book. Inform. Last modied January 25, 2012. http://inform7.
Inform. Inform Manuals: Writing with Inform7. Inform. Last modied January 25, 2012. http://inform7.
James Madison University Libraries. MagneticPoetry2. Welcome to the Magnetic Keyword Game. Last modied
January 19, 2012.
James Madison University Libraries. Tic-Tac-Toe Citation Game. Tic-Tac-Toe Citation Game. Last modied
January 19, 2012.
James Madison University Libraries. Welcome to Face-the-Case. Face-the-Case. Last modied January 19,
Johnston, Chevy and Adam Saltsman. Flash Game Dojo: Getting Started. Flash Game Dojo. 2010. http://ash
Kasbohm, Kristine E., David Schoen, and Michelle Dubaj. Launching the Library Mystery Tour: A Library
Component in the First-Year Experience. College & Undergraduate Libraries 13, no. 2 (2006): 3546.
Kipnis, Daniel G., and Gary M. Childs. Educating Generation X and Generation Y. Medical Reference
Services Quarterly 23, no. 4 (2005): 2533.
Lancaster, Lynne, and David Stillman. When Generations Collide. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Lycoming College Library. Snowden Online Tutorials Lycoming College. Snowden Online Tutorials. 2011.
Markey, Karen, Fritz Swanson, Andrea Jenkins, Brian J. Jennings, Beth St. Jean, Victor Rosenberg, Xingxing
Levels of Game Creation (Sirigos) 29

Yao, and Robert L. Frost. The Effectiveness of a Web-based Board Game for Teaching Undergraduate
Students Information Literacy Concepts and Skills. D-Lib 17 (2008).
Martin, Justine, and Robin Ewing. Power Up! Using Digital Gaming Techniques to Enhance Library Instruc-
tion. Internet Reference Services Quarterly 12, no. 23 (2008): 209225.
McGonigal, Jane. McGonigal ARG MacArthur Foundation. Alternate Reality Gaming. 2004. www.avant
McShaffry, Mike. Game Coding Complete. 4th ed. Boston: Course Technology, 2012.
Ohio State University Libraries. Head Hunt: The Game. Ohio State University Libraries. 2013. http://library.
ONeil, Joseph. Teach Yourself Java. Berkley: McGraw-Hill, 1999.
Oracle. Java + You. Java. 2013.
Pennsylvania State University. Penn State Alumni Library. Penn State Alumni Library. 2012. http://alumni.
PL Studios, Inc. Digital-Tutors > Softimage Tutorials and Softimage Training. Digital-Tutors > Tutorials
and Training for CG, 3D, Animation and VFX. 2013.
PL Studios, Inc. Digital-Tutors > Maya Tutorials and Maya Training. Digital-Tutors > Tutorials and Training
for CG, 3D, Animation and VFX. 2013.
Ramsberg, Fredrik. A Beginners Guide to Playing Interactive Fiction. Fredriks Pages
about Interactive Fiction. Last modied February 17, 2003.
Roehling, Patricia, Thomas Kooi, Stephanie Dykema, Brooke Quisenberry, and Chelsea Vandlen. Engaging
the Millennial Generation in Class Discussions. College Teaching 59 (2011): 16.
Short, Emily. Bronze. Inform. Last modied January 25, 2012.
Sierra, Kathy, and Bert Bates. Head First Java. 2nd ed. Sebastopol: OReilly Media, 2005.
Sierra, Kathy, and Bert Bates. Head First Labs from OReilly Media, Inc.: Head First Java, Second Edition.
Head First Labs from OReilly Media, Inc. 2012.
Simpson, Elizabeth. Evolution in the Classroom: What Teachers Need to Know about the Video Game Gen-
eration. TechTrends 49 (2005): 1722.
Smale, Maura A. Learning Through Quests and Contests: Games in Information Literacy Instruction.
Journal of Library and Information 2, no. 2 (2011): 3566.
Smith, Lt. Col. Kay. Gaining the Edge: Connecting with the Millenials. Air Force Journal of Logistics 31
(2009): 5260.
Stroustrup, Bjarne. Bjarne Stroustrups Homepage. Bjarne Stroustrups Homepage. 2013. http://www.strous
_____. C++ Applications. C++ Applications. Last modied October 3, 2012.
_____. Programming Principles and Practices Using C++. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2009.
Suleman, Razor, and Bob Nelson. Motivating the Millennials: Tapping into the Potential of the Youngest
Generation. Leader to Leader 62 (2011): 3944.
Take-Two Initiative Software, Inc. Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar Games. 2009. http://www.rockstargames.
University of Florida Libraries. Awakening the Dead Zombie Survival LibGuide-Guides @ UF at University
of Florida. Home Guides @ UF at University of Florida. Last modied April 10, 2010. http://guides.uib.
University of Florida Libraries. University of Florida Humans vs. Zombies Wiki. Humans vs. Zombies
Wiki. Last modied April 30, 2012.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Game > The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
(UNCG). The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG ). 2012.
University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries. Pot of Gold. University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries.
W3Schools. HTML5 Introduction. W3Schools Online Web Tutorials. 2013.
The LEGO Group. Video games LEGO Batman About The Game Features. LEGOwww.
WikiBooks. Beginners Guide to Interactive Fiction with Inform 7/Getting Started with Inform 7. WikiBooks.
Last modied July 5, 2011. percent27s_Guide_to_Interactive_
Williams College Libraries. Library Mystery Tour. Williams College Libraries. Last modied July 6, 2009.
Knowing When to
Create a Library Game

Current college students cannot remember a time before video games were a major
source of entertainment and an extremely important piece of their popular culture. Video
games are more pervasive among todays youth than many educators realize. Gee1 has made
a convincing argument in his seminal book What Video Games Have to Teach Us about
Learning and Literacy that these commercial video games are better at teaching than our
formal education system. It is no wonder that educators have spent several decades trying
to make learning fun through educational games. Academic libraries are also increasingly
interested in using games for outreach and information literacy instruction.
The theoretical learning potential of games is well-documented in the academic liter-
ature. Game-based learning is associated with increased student interest and motivation.2
When implemented correctly, educational games are believed to be particularly benecial
for weaker students.3 They also have the potential of teaching students higher-order thinking
skills such as strategic and critical thinking and decision making.4 Additionally, games are
social, engaging a groups collective intelligence.5 Finally, games lend themselves particularly
well to library instruction because they emphasize continual improvement of skills, and
library instruction focuses on processes and skills more than on content.
However, game-based learning is not without critics, and even those who enthusiastically
promote it warn that it must be adopted with caution.6 Squire7 discusses why different groups
might not take to game-based learning as much as one might expect, including high-achieving
students and even gamers. Furthermore, educational game design is a time-consuming and
risky activity because the games often must be awless or the experience falls apart and the
precious opportunity to teach students is lost. Not every subject lends itself well to games.
Some educators and players nd the game elements to be a waste of valuable instruction
time.8 Moreover, while some tout games emphasis on trial-and-error learning, others feel
the easy do-overs diminish students inclination to engage in critical thinking. Finally, empir-
ical evidence on the effectiveness of educational games remains weak.9
Additionally, as prominent educational games scholar James Paul Gee wrote, As chal-
lenging as it is to design a good educational game, it may be more challenging to design a
good educational system for educational games to ourish in.10 Many administrators atti-
tudes have been negatively shaped by drill-and-kill learning,11 which is indeed the easiest
type of game to design yet often does not yield the best educational outcomes. If games are
not valued by those making decisions and controlling the resources, it will continue to be
difcult to nd the resources to improve educational game development.
There have been a number of successful and not-so-successful educational games in

Knowing When to Create a Library Game (Snyder Broussard) 31

libraries, many of whose successes or failures are rooted in the context of the game as much
as the game design itself. Markey, et al.,12 discuss the design and implementation of Defense
of Hidgeon in a for-credit information literacy class at the University of Michigan. They
learned that just because students are given a game, it does not mean that they will play it.
The game did not have the necessary fun elements to create the intrinsic motivation they
anticipated. However, they used what they learned from the rst game to design Bibliobouts,
which they report to be very successful.13 As a required element of a class, Bibliobouts encour-
ages proper research and evaluation by turning it into a competitive and collaborative game.
Defense of Hidgeon was essentially a long and tedious trivia game that did not inspire
players. Players of other library games, such as the University of Alabamas Project Velius 14
and my own Lyco Map Game 15 demonstrated not only learning but also enjoyment, yet these
games attracted few players. These voluntary games often involved extrinsic rewards such
as gift certicates or prizes for the winners, although there was always an assumption that
the game itself would have intrinsic appeal. Locally-designed educational games require too
many resources to tolerate very few players and incentives are clearly not working. Thus
far, the library games are not appealing enough in and of themselves to attract busy college
students to play in large numbers without being required activities.
Let us back up and dene success when evaluating educational library games.
Branston16 and McCabe and Wise17 acknowledge how difcult it is to measure a games effec-
tiveness. For the purposes of this chapter, success is measured here by two simple factors:
(a) Was the game completed and marketed to its intended audience?
(b) Were the supervising librarians satised that its goals were met?
It must be acknowledged that there have been a number of digital library games that absorbed
a good deal of resources, but were never completed.18 As for the second factor, one must
have faith in other librarians evaluative judgment. Even if a game may be played by anyone
online, only those professionals who saw their own students playing the game or collected
evidence of the games effectiveness can accurately judge how successful the game truly was
for its intended purpose. Many games that seem excessively simple suit their educational
objective surprisingly well.
Given the challenges potential game designing librarians face, and the failures recorded
in the literature, one should use caution before jumping into designing educational library
games. One of the most critical steps towards making a good educational game is deciding
if a game is the most appropriate instruction method for the situation. In this chapter, I
propose four main questions that should be carefully explored before designing an educa-
tional game. The factors which they address are so tightly connected, that they can be
addressed in any order.

Can You Find or Design a Game That Fits

Well into the Situational Constraints?
Games are exceptionally dependent on their contexts. While the game designer may
have control of some of these situational constraints, most of the constraints are imposed
on the game by others. These constraints include the games objectives, various issues related
to time, number of participants, and the location where the game will be played. There
may be additional constraints to consider that are unique to your library or a particular
32 Games in Libraries

class. It is critical that these constraints are taken into consideration when designing the
The rst step of any library game design process should start with objectives, which
are a form of constraint. What do you want participants to gain from the game experience?
Library games are usually designed for one of two purposes, outreach or instruction. Out-
reach games are usually more exible because their goals are to attract people to the library,
and for those visitors to see the library and its staff in a favorable light. Some academic
libraries host video game tournaments or host themed game nights similar to those held in
public libraries with the sole purpose of enticing a certain demographic of students to come
to the physical library.
One of our librarys most successful outreach events has been an annual Harry Potter
Night. The idea for this program was suggested by a student during a conversation at the
reference desk. Because Lycoming College is a small, private school of approximately 1,400
students, we were able to make this program happen quickly. The objectives for Harry
Potter Night were simply to involve students with an interest in this hugely popular series
and to show the library and its staff in a positive way. The exibility of these objectives
opened up a lot of opportunity for creativity on a relatively large scale. Activities ranged
from trivia, to themed food, bowtruckle hunts, crafts, costume contests, Quidditch toss,
potions making, and obstacle courses based on a particular book in the series. Specic activ-
ities rotated each year so the event was always fresh. This event offered a unique opportunity
to collaborate with other departments around campus. The following photo shows library
and other college staff dressed as characters from the stories to facilitate the event. One of
the most memorable pieces of feedback was a freshman exclaiming, This is the most fun
Ive had so far at college! Attendance has ranged from thirty to seventy active participants,
a good turnout for an institution our size. We have stopped hosting this as an annual event
during a time of stafng shortages that coincided with the end of the movies and therefore
a likely decline in interest. Regardless, upperclassmen and alumni continue to mention this
event as a memorable part of their college experience.
Some library outreach programs described in the literature have ulterior motives to
provide a fun experience while educating the players on the sly. The primary objective of
these games is outreach and the games are mostly fun, but small elements of the game
involve library resources or locations. Sometimes it is obvious to players, such as with Project
Velius 19 in which players had to use library resources to solve a mystery. For other library
games, players probably do not even realize they are being clandestinely educated. This is
the case of Humans vs. Zombies at Hiram College20 in which players unwittingly learned
locations within the library. The designers of Project Velius were disappointed with the low
number of players who completed the game, while Humans vs. Zombies has been enormously
successful, mostly because the library simply offered to participate in an event that was
already popular on campus. This shows that the bar is very high for creating educational
outreach games that students want to play for fun.
If the game is intended to be instructional, there will be learning objectives. Instruc-
tional games may be developed for a library orientation or for a particular class. For example,
you may want players to visit a certain number of physical locations in the library, or be
able to read a call number and nd a book in the stacks, or develop a working understanding
of Boolean operators. Listing learning objectives and goals is the rst step of educational
game design, just as it is for any other instructional activity. Learning objectives should be
measurable, and you can and should build this assessment into an educational game. These
Knowing When to Create a Library Game (Snyder Broussard) 33

Lycoming College staff and faculty dressed as Hogwarts characters for the librarys annual
Harry Potter Night in 2007.

learning objectives should be central to the game, its mechanics, and its evaluation of players
For example, I wanted Secret Agent in the Library to mimic the research process as
much as possible for composition students. More specically, I wanted students to be able
to do the following after playing the game:
nd relevant information in reference books
nd books in the collection using the online catalog and Library of Congress call
recognize the difference between popular and scholarly sources, as well as general
and subject-specic sources
use AND to narrow and OR to broaden a search
retrieve the full text for articles found in databases
create a book citation in MLA format.
As the game designer and instructor, I also wanted to compel students to use as many actual
library resources as possible, including the catalog, databases, maps, books, and the library
website. For Secret Agent in the Library, I quickly knew that to meet these goals, it would
have to be a hybrid game, where the online activity would organize the game experience,
but players would be linking to the actual electronic resources and using physical materials
as well as visiting physical sites.
Using the secret code written on an index card and placed in the physical book was a
34 Games in Libraries

low-tech way of ensuring they could not continue without successfully completing this
activity. Such measures are particularly important for any activity that requires students to
physically move or use print resources. In my experience, students will not get up to use
print resources otherwise, particularly if it involves climbing stairs.
There are many time-related constraints to creating library games. Many information
literacy games are limited to the one-hour library session, and the hour needs to include
an introduction to the game and a debrieng activity. This means that games cannot become
too complicated because the players do not have time for lengthy instructions. It also means
the games fun elements should be limited, and the balance between fun and content should
lean more to the content side of the spectrum. If the game only addresses some of the
learning objectives for the class, then the contact time with players must be further divided
between gameplay and more traditional methods of instruction. Using the entire class time
for a game also increases the risk associated with this type of learning because if the game
does not go well, the precious class time could be wasted and students will go to their
assignments with little more knowledge than they had before the library class.
Time constraints go beyond the simple question of how much time do students have
to play the game. It also includes what time of day or year the game will take place and if
players will be playing synchronously or asynchronously. If there is not class time set aside
for the game where players are a captive audience, you must consider what else is going on
at that time of day that may compete for their attention or attendance. If many participants
are playing at the same time, you must think about how many will be trying to use the
same location or resource at the same time and decide if it is reasonable.
In the past, I have found inspiration from the Come Out and Play Festival website.21
However, many of these games require smart phones and advanced programming skills.
Technologies can enhance many games and augmented reality games have a lot of educational
potential. Nevertheless, you must carefully consider what technologies students are likely
to have with them when they arrive for the library activity. It is reasonable to assume that
most students (but not all) will have a basic cell phone with them during a school day or
for an evening outreach activity. But they may not carry it during freshman orientation.
Smart phones and tablets are increasingly popular, but their prevalence will depend on your
particular student population. It may or may not be reasonable to assume that someone in

Book-nding activity ow chart.

Knowing When to Create a Library Game (Snyder Broussard) 35

a group will have one. Furthermore, you must consider wireless connectivity for any devices
that require it. In some cases the library may be able to supply some technology. For example,
we have buzzers for trivia games that help us more fairly determine which team was ready
to answer rst. Some libraries have tablets or iPod Touches that can be lent out for library
activities, though our library does not. Finally, you must consider the stability of the tech-
nology, particularly if it will get a good deal of use in a short time, and consider the need
for a back-up plan if the Internet should go down.
When the public services librarians at my library decided to overhaul our freshman
orientation activity several years ago, we had many constraints placed on us. The rst was
the volume of students, potentially over four hundred over a period of about ve hours.
The second was that students would be coming to the library in groups every fteen minutes,
and our time with each group was limited to about a half an hour due to the many other
orientation activities planned elsewhere on campus. This volume of students and asynchro-
nous arrival times hindered our ability to base competition on speed of completion. It also
meant that we needed to break the students into smaller groups and send them in different
directions so they were not all competing for the same spaces and resources at once. This
was accomplished by putting students in small groups of approximately four, assigning each
group a color designation, and sending each team color on a different track. They completed
the same activities, just not in the same order. Because we could not count on students
bringing digital cameras or even cell phones into the library that day, the game was almost
entirely analog with a brief review on one of the librarys public computers.
Because Lycoming Colleges student population rarely contains individuals with phys-
ical, visual, or hearing disabilities, one constraint I have not adequately addressed in my
own games is disability compliance. Two of Lycomings library games, Secret Agent in the
Library 22 and our freshman orientation require students to use stairs to visit several oors
of the library. We usually limit access to our single elevator, particularly during the freshman
orientation exercise due to the sheer volume of students, but make exceptions for those few
players with mobility challenges and their groups. Online games are more challenging
because you often do not know if any potential player has a disability and our programming
skills tend to be extremely limited. For these online games, disability compliance would
include creating games that can be magnied, are compatible with screen-reading software,
and avoid players being dependent on the games audio elements. In-class games can get
around JAWS compatibility by having students read questions aloud to the group, which
is a natural part of group work. Rice notes that disability compliance was a priority in the
development of The Information Literacy Game.23 Adobe Flash has been criticized for acces-
sibility issues, but newer versions of Flash can be made more accessible if designers take the
time to make it so. If your potential population contains students who require accommo-
dations, these should be taken into consideration at this point in the game design process.
However, as is seen in the examples of lifting elevator restrictions and having students work
in groups, many accommodations can be easily provided.
I have used the word constraint in this section. However, the constraints imposed
on your game design can be inspiring and can work as part of the game. They can lead to
a deeper integration of library resources, patterns, locations, and vocabulary into the games
story. There are particularly creative solutions that can bring the learning and the game
together in a way that feels more natural to the player. Charsky24 calls this endogenous
fantasy, meaning the fantasy helps the gamers knowledge and the content becomes the
games challenge. Koster denes games as bundles of delicious patterns, and that our brains
36 Games in Libraries

crave patterns.25 The library, valuing order, is full of patterns to draw from in game design.
We have locations, collections, and call numbers. These all lend themselves well to games,
and bring the fun and content together.

What Is the Likely Return on Investment (ROI)?

Whether or not you are a business-minded librarian, which I am not, it is important
to consider the return on investment when designing games. Game design is a time-
consuming process and it is not practical to spend weeks or months designing a game for
a single class of four students that is only offered once every other year. Instead, look for
opportunities where the game can either reach many students at once or can be used multiple
times over several semesters.
The largest return on investment of any of my games is Goblin Threat,26 launched in
2009. It is an entirely online game, designed as an alternative avenue for plagiarism edu-
cation. I knew there was a need for an alternative method of plagiarism education on our
campus based on conversations with faculty. The game has been successful on our campus
and continues to be assigned by our faculty as part of their courses. What I did not anticipate
was how popular it would be with librarians and English instructors at other schools and
colleges. After to our librarys homepage, it is our most-visited site, with over 50,000 page
visits between January 2011 and October 2012 (statistics were not available earlier). I have
been contacted by or have identied over seventy libraries or English departments who use
Goblin Threat to teach plagiarism prevention to their students.
Occasionally, it may be worth breaking the rule of a high number of participants for a
game in which those who do participate get a lot out of the game. This may be a class or
instructional opportunity that continues to frustrate librarians, or a class that is seen as critical
but maybe student motivation is an issue. It may also just be a chance to try something new,
such as Eckenrodes Amazing Library Race,27 where part of the return on investment is the
librarians enjoyment of the design process, and building a good relationship with a faculty
member, in addition to the student learning and positive attitudes towards the library.
You may also nd a relatively simple game to use that does not require much preparation
time, and therefore does not require such a large return on investment. Library Jeopardy! as a
pre-test at the beginning of a library session can be very effective. PowerPoint templates can
be downloaded online28 and the preparation time involved is only creating class-appropriate
questions. Goblin Threat and The Information Literacy Game 29 have few institution-specic
questions, so therefore could be used by anyone for library instruction. The designers of the
Information Literacy Game furthermore designed this game to be easily customizable by any
librarian who wanted to change the questions. While trivia games often give game-based
learning a bad reputation, they can be used effectively in the right circumstances.
Another example of low-effort, high-return games are outreach trivia games. We have
done a number of trivia games for Banned Books Week over the past several years. For the
rst two years that I included a trivia game, I hung game posters around either the campus
or the library. In the rst year of this game, I created a series of pictograms. These were
picture-puzzles that represented titles of well-known controversial books, such as the fol-
lowing representation of The Grapes of Wrath. Correct responses to each clue were entered
into a rafe for a gift certicate at the end of the week.
In each case, we had very few entries, but we concluded it was still good publicity.
Knowing When to Create a Library Game (Snyder Broussard) 37

The return on investment increased considerably when we moved the clues onto the librarys
Facebook page and invited individual submissions for each clue by email, rather than a game
sheet that encouraged a single submission for all clues. Our number of entries over the course
of that week has gone from just a few to several hundred. In addition to the Banned Books
Week activities aimed at the whole school, I also work with an education professor who
teaches a course on Literacy for Middle and Secondary Schools, to create an hour-long dis-
cussion on banned books in schools. As a class, they end the discussion by casually playing
a combination of past trivia games, which serves as a fun review and closure activity.

How Will You Get Participants?

While games are associated with intrinsic motivation, educational library games will
not necessarily attract a large voluntary crowd. The subject of the game must either provide
a strong pull, or the game must be a required activity. So far in the literature, the only
library games that are successful without being required are those for outreach. These out-
reach events are usually built around something that has inherent appeal to potential par-
ticipants or the library offers its space to an already existing game community. The initial
goal is to entertain, and very little instruction is attempted.
Many librarian-game designers have found that captive audiences are essential for edu-
cational games. This may be in the form of having the students physically in the library or
classroom as a required part of a course, or that the librarians reach out to professors asking
that students be required to participate. Often a professors promise of extra credit is enough
to draw the necessary participants, even if the number of points is relatively small.
Requiring participation in
educational games is controversial.
Some say that if participation is
required, then the activity is no
longer a game, as many denitions
of game involve the activity
being voluntary.30 However, I feel
that in the case of educational
library games, our primary goal is
to educate students. The skills we
aim to teach them are critical to
higher education and also to the
broader goals of developing life-
long learners. Library instruction
can be painful to all, or we can
make an effort to make it enjoy-
able. This may be through games
or through other creative active
learning initiatives. I am comfort-
able with using the term game
loosely, or sometimes prefer
game-like activity. I enjoy seeing Pictogram from Banned Books Week 2009 representing
my students smile while they the Grapes of Wrath.
38 Games in Libraries

explore the library and its resources and demonstrate an increase of knowledge and under-
standing at the end of the activity. I am not terribly concerned that there is little chance
they would play these games for fun in their free time.
I have never felt guilty about requiring a game because the students have usually demon-
strated enjoyment and signs of learning, and I have never designed an educational game that
was not meant to be required. The Lyco Map Game, which focused on the physical history
of our campus, was designed to be played over the course of an hour in a large interdisciplinary
class. I made the assumption that it would be required without properly communicating
with the coordinator for the class, and the schedule lled before the game was included.
Instead of being played in class as it was designed to be, the game was made available over
a 24-hour period as a recommended activity. As a result, only about a dozen in a class of
about eighty played the game despite the promise of gift certicates for the top three teams.
This illustrates a nal point about getting participants. It is important to consider not
only the student players, but also the professor you are working with. Because professors
are the primary teachers, their buy-in is critical. It is a good idea to inform professors when
you will have their students playing a library game for instruction so that they will not be
surprised by something other than what they were expecting. Furthermore, depending on
the purpose of a particular game, it may be appropriate for the librarians to seek professors
input on what learning goals the game should address. Professors know their assignments
best and this gives them more reason to provide their moral support.

Do You Have the Resources to Support the Game?

As elsewhere in our profession, the most precious resources for game design are funds,
creativity, skills, and time. While available resources could be considered a situational con-
straint, they deserve special attention because game design can easily be very time consuming.
Many library game projects have involved large amounts of resources without being suc-
cessful in the end. It is important to take a thorough and accurate inventory of resources
available and resources needed before committing to a game as an educational activity.
Surprisingly, great educational games do not necessarily require a good deal of money.
In a previous study limited to digital library games,31 I found that a majority of the successful
games did not cost much. Indeed, many of the digital games with large budgets were either
never completed or were later abandoned in favor of something else. Several were built with
student or professional programmers and the money ran out or the students graduated
before the game was completed. Others were completed but did not meet the intended
goals when put to the real test.
Money is closely related to skills in that most of the funds spent on game design is spent
on programmers and artists to compensate for the lack of those skills among the library staff.
The Ohio State University libraries built their online orientation game called Head Hunt 32
using a student who was already employed by the library, and it was built to be easily updated
without special technical knowledge. The librarians at the University of Alabama designed
Project Velius with social networking and very basic website design skills. My online games
use programming found in Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies.33 Furthermore,
as previously mentioned, games built by others can sometimes be used at your library.
The primary skill needed for game design is creativity. At the very least, you need a
clever ability to borrow ideas from others and reassemble them in a new way. I believe I
Knowing When to Create a Library Game (Snyder Broussard) 39

fall into this second category. All of the nancial resources and programming ability in the
world cannot replace for creativity, while creativity can surmount a lack of other resources.
Combined with good instructional design skills, librarians can create inexpensive yet amazing
game-based learning experiences. However, if a librarian wishes to design an educational
game but is not comfortable with his or her creativity, or is simply not nding inspiration,
holding a focus group with students is a way to borrow others creative skills to get the game
design process going. I will discuss this further in a later chapter.
Additionally, most games require strong organizational skills. No matter what type of
game is being played, there are numerous moments where multiple outcomes are possible.
The designer must account for all possibilities that lead either to a dead-end or to a successful
completion of the game. Many games can fall apart with a small mistake. So far, most edu-
cational library games are linear, with one correct path to successful completion of the
game. For online games, this usually involves selecting the correct answer on multiple choice,
matching, or short-answer questions. Sometimes it involves successfully completing a series
of activities. Either way, the players choices are relatively limited by the game. While check-
ing the game for the correct path is easy, it takes strong organizational skills to check all of
the possible combinations of wrong answers.
For real-world games, the need for organizational skills increases because players are
not limited by multiple choice. In our game-based freshman orientation, color-coded clues
were posted on walls and desks around the library. These signs made the activity more
game-like, and also served as check-points so that students could not complete the orien-
tation without doing the things they were asked to do. Having so many tracks, each with
about a dozen individual activities, and requiring students to do things in a particular order,
created many places where the activity could fall apart. I am not a particularly organized
person, and I know too well that it is easy to become blind to details when you become so
immersed in a project. You know what something is supposed to say, and your brain does
not necessarily register what it actually says. Fortunately, I was co-designing this orientation
activity with a highly-organized and detail-oriented colleague and we did countless rounds
of testing with different groups of players.
If it is an online game, there is an additional requirement of computer programming and
graphics skills. I chose Adobe Flash as the software for my tutorials and games because it
allows for a great deal of interactivity and it was not hard to obtain a campus license. I found
Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies provided enough knowledge of ActionScript
for the kind of games I wanted to build in Flash, and I was able to learn the programming
language efciently. This book teaches the raw code rather than Flashs programming assistance,
which allows for exibility in combining different pieces of code to do new things. My pro-
gramming skills are very limited, but have been enough to create Goblin Threat and Secret
Agent in the Library, both of which I consider to have been very successful games. If you do
not have in-house programming skills, then you must consider the cost of hiring someone
who does have those skills, which can quickly accumulate to a considerable sum.
Time is an even more critical resource in game development. While trivia games may
not take long to develop and might be suited for the intended purpose, any other type of
game does require a good deal of time to develop. In fact, even experienced game designers
usually underestimate how long any given project will take to complete. While you may be
using familiar tools in the game, you may not be using them in familiar ways. You may
have to learn or re-learn something related to the games technology. And sometimes you
have to temporarily walk away from a project when the frustration point reaches a certain
40 Games in Libraries

limit and pick it up when your mind has cleared. Nothing sties creativity and innovation
as much as stress.
Several years ago, I made the mistake of thinking with a few successful digital games
under my belt, I could produce a game based on Carmen Sandiego for our modern language
colloquium in a span of two weeks. And it was a time of year when I had many other
responsibilities. This was a big mistake. The game neither informed nor entertained. In
the class, we ultimately gave up on the game and fell back on a lecture, as much I hated to
do that. Unless you are using exactly the same game mechanic and graphics, and you are
simply changing the content, every game is very different and its design should never be
In addition to the time spent brainstorming, designing, and building a game, most
games require a good deal of testing. Many educational games follow some type of sequence,
whether it is a story or a series of locations. Any hiccup in organization can cause such a
game to fall apart while players are playing. I have another detail-oriented librarian colleague
who is usually happy to serve as my initial tester. After incorporating her feedback into the
game, I reach out to student workers at the library. They are very convenient and willing
play-testers, however they are often more familiar with the library than typical students. I
have also reached out to other students on occasion. Our football coach graciously lent us
his sophomore players for an hour during football camp to test our freshman orientation
and a handful of students in our Creative Arts Society were happy to provide feedback on
my online plagiarism game in exchange for home-cooked food.
It is often helpful to design educational games in teams. Even if one librarian is the
primary designer, having another creative person to talk things out with goes a long way.
We have found that it often takes someone with game design knowledge and creativity (or
at least a creative ability to adapt other peoples ideas) and one or two people with exceptional
organizational/detail-oriented skills. It often also helps to have a productive pessimist
involved. This is someone who often looks at what could possibly go wrong, and helps nd
solutions for preventing such events. Librarians often work in teams, so take advantage of
the combination of talents your staff possesses for more effective game design.
A number of librarians have found ways to use qualities of game-based learning in
their instruction without designing games. Waelchli34 used many fantasy football analogies
in a summer orientation for athletes and found they retained more information. Schiller35
advocates breaking up instruction and offering students a chance to practice skills and slowly
increase challenges, just like players do in the game Portal. Martin and Ewing36 encourage
presenting library resources as power-ups, the video game term for the useful tools that
players earn as they play and improve.
Game-based learning has many potential advantages, and the more librarians implement
it in their classrooms and share the results, the faster we can improve this fascinating method
of learning. Game-based teaching can be an incredibly rewarding experience when done
correctly. The very rst step to successful game design is to carefully consider whether a
game is the most appropriate method of instruction given its particular circumstances. It
is important to consider the situational constraints, return on investment, how the game
will attract players, and the necessary resources before the design actually begins. Only if
the game designers are condent that these four criteria are favorable to game design should
they proceed.
Knowing When to Create a Library Game (Snyder Broussard) 41

1. James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2003).
2. Kurt Squire, Changing the Game: What Happens When Video Games Enter the Classroom?, Journal
of Online Education 1 (AugustSeptember 2005): n.p.
3. Ibid.
4. John Kirriemuir and Angela McFarlane, Literature Review in Games and Learning, Futurlab Series,
Report no. 8 (October 26, 2006), accessed November 4, 2012,
5. Kurt Squire and Constance Steinkuehler, Meet the Gamers: They Research, Teach, Learn, and Col-
laborate. So Far, without Libraries, Library Journal, 130 (April 2005): 3841.
6. Kirriemuir and McFarlane, Literature Review in Games and Learning; Squire, Changing the Game.
7. Squire, Changing the game.
8. Kirriemuir and McFarlane, Literature Review in Games and Learning.
9. Ibid.
10. Squire, Changing the Game.
11. Richard Van Eck, Digital Game-Based Learning: Its not just the Digital Natives who Are Restless,
EDUCAUSE Review 41(March-April 2006): 1630.
12. Karen Markey, et al., Will Undergraduate Students Play Games to Learn how to Conduct Library
Research? Journal of Academic Librarianship 35 ( July 2009): 303313.
13. Karen Markey, The Benets of Integrating an Information Literacy Skills Game into Academic Course-
work: A Preliminary Evaluation, D-Lib Magazine 16 ( July/August 2010): n.p., accessed August 2, 2011, http://
14. Jason Battles, Valerie Glenn, and Lindley Shedd, Rethinking the Library Game: Creating an Alternate
Reality with Social Media, Journal of Web Librarianship 5 (2011): 114131.
15. Mary Broussard, Lyco Map Game, Lycoming College, accessed March 18, 2013, http://www.lycoming.
16. Christy Branston, From Game Studies to Bibliographic Gaming: Libraries Tap into the Video Game
Culture, Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technolog y 32 (AprilMay 2006): 2429.
17. Jennifer McCabe and Steven Wise, Its all Fun and Games until Someone Learns Something: Assessing
the Learning Outcomes of Two Educational Games, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 4
(December 2009): 621.
18. Mary J. Snyder Broussard, Digital Games in Academic Libraries: A Review of Games and Suggested
Best Practices, Reference Services Review 40 (2012): 7589.
19. Battles, Glenn, and Shedd, Rethinking the Library Game.
20. Jessica R. Olin, Socializing with the Undead: Humans vs. Zombies and Learning in the Library (pre-
sentation, The Library Orientation and Exchange (LOEX) Annual Conference, Columbus, OH, May 4, 2012).
21. Come Out & Play Festival, accessed March 18, 2013,
22. Mary Broussard, Secret Agent in the Library, Lycoming College, accessed March 18, 2013, http://www.
23. Scott Rice and Amy Harris, The Information Literacy Game, University of North Carolina Greens-
boro, accessed March 18, 2013,
24. Dennis Charsky, From Edutainment to Serious Games: A Change in the Use of Game Characteristics,
Games and Culture 5 (April 2010): 180.
25. Raph Koster, Theory of Fun for Game Design, (Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005).
26. Mary Broussard and Jessica Urich, Goblin Threat, Lycoming College, accessed March 18, 2013,
27. Dawn Eckenrode, An Amazing Race through the Library: Reality Television meets Problem-Based
Learning, in Practical Pedagog y for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student Learning, eds.
Douglas Cook and Ryan L. Sittler (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2008), 127138.
28. An example template can be found at
29. Rice and Harris, The Information Literacy Game.
30. Roger Caillois, Man, Play, and Games (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1961).
31. Broussard, Digital Games in Academic Libraries.
32. Nancy OHanlon, et al., Head Hunt: The Game, The Ohio State University, accessed March 18,
33. Andrew Harris, Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006).
34. Paul Waelchli, Librarians Sport of Choice, College & Research Libraries News 69 ( January 2008): 10
42 Games in Libraries

35. Nicholas Schiller, A Portal to Student Learning: What Instruction Librarians can Learn from Video
Game Design, Reference Services Review 36 (2008): 351365.
36. Justine Martin and Robin Ewing, Power Up! Using Digital Gaming Techniques to Enhance Library
Instruction, Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13 (2008): 209225.

Battles, Jason, Valerie Glenn, and Lindley Shedd. Rethinking the Library Game: Creating an Alternate
Reality with Social Media. Journal of Web Librarianship 5 (2011): 114131.
Branston, Christy. From Game Studies to Bibliographic Gaming: Libraries Tap into the Video Game Cul-
ture. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technolog y 32 (April-May 2006): 2429.
Broussard, Mary J. Snyder. Digital Games in Academic Libraries: A Review of Games and Suggested Best
Practices. Reference Services Review 40 (2012): 7589.
Broussard, Mary, and Jessica Urich. Goblin Threat. Lycoming College. Accessed March 18, 2013. http://www.
Broussard, Mary. Lyco Map Game. Lycoming College. Accessed March 18, 2013.
_____. Secret Agent in the Library. Lycoming College. Accessed March 18, 2013.
Caillois, Roger. Man, Play, and Games. New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1961.
Charsky, Dennis. From Edutainment to Serious Games: A Change in the Use of Game Characteristics.
Games and Culture 5 (April 2010): 180.
Come Out & Play Festival. Accessed March 18, 2013.
Eckenrode, Dawn. An Amazing Race through the Library: Reality Television meets Problem-Based Learn-
ing. In Practical Pedagog y for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student Learning, edited
by Douglas Cook and Ryan L. Sittler, 127138. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries,
Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2003.
Harris, Andrew. Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006.
Kirriemuir, John, and Angela McFarlane. Literature Review in Games and Learning. Futurlab Series, Report
no. 8 (October 26, 2006). Accessed November 4, 2012.
Koster, Raph. Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005.
Markey, Karen, et al. Will Undergraduate Students Play Games to Learn how to Conduct Library Research?
Journal of Academic Librarianship 35 ( July 2009): 303313.
Markey, Karen. The Benets of Integrating an Information Literacy Skills Game into Academic Coursework:
A Preliminary Evaluation. D-Lib Magazine 16 ( July/August 2010).
Martin, Justine, and Robin Ewing. Power Up! Using Digital Gaming Techniques to Enhance Library Instruc-
tion. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13 (2008): 209225.
McCabe, Jennifer, and Steven Wise. Its All Fun and Games Until Someone Learns Something: Assessing
the Learning Outcomes of Two Educational Games. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 4
(December 2009): 621.
OHanlon, Nancy, et al. Head Hunt: The Game. The Ohio State University. Accessed March 18, 2013.
Olin, Jessica R. Socializing with the Undead: Humans vs. Zombies and Learning in the Library. Presentation
at the Library Orientation and Exchange (LOEX) Annual Conference, Columbus, OH, May 4, 2012.
Rice, Scott, and Amy Harris. The Information Literacy Game. University of North Carolina Greensboro.
Accessed March 18, 2013.
Schiller, Nicholas. A Portal to Student Learning: What Instruction Librarians can Learn from Video Game
Design. Reference Services Review 36 (2008): 351365.
Squire, Kurt, and Constance Steinkuehler. Meet the Gamers: They Research, Teach, Learn, and Collaborate.
So Far, without Libraries. Library Journal, 130 (April 2005): 3841.
Squire, Kurt. Changing the Game: What Happens When Video Games Enter the Classroom? Journal of
Online Education 1 (AugustSeptember 2005): n.p.
Van Eck, Richard. Digital Game-Based Learning: Its not just the Digital Natives who Are Restless. EDU-
CAUSE Review 41 (MarchApril 2006): 1630.
Waelchli, Paul. Librarians Sport of Choice. College & Research Libraries News 69 ( January 2008): 1015.
The State of the Game:
ALA Games and Gaming Round Table

Created in 2012, the American Library Associations Games and Gaming Round Table
(GameRT) has the simple mission of providing a place for librarians to gather who are interested
in learning more about games and gaming, as well as to foster the exchange of ideas and con-
cerns about the use of games and gaming in libraries. In addition to creating an awareness of
the value of gaming and play in all of its various forms, GameRTs focus includes offering
librarians needed support in the areas of game programming and collection development.
The spark for forming this group was rst ignited when Scott Nicholson participated
in a Dance Dance Revolution (DDR ) demonstration hosted by Jenny Levine at the American
Library Associations midwinter conference in 2007. This experience, along with his back-
ground in gameplay, inspired Dr. Nicholson to create the Library Game Lab at Syracuse,
which explores gaming and its use in libraries. The research at this lab showed that while
many libraries were using games and interested in gaming, there was no single place for
these gamers to share their ideas.1 In 2008, encouraged by Jenny Levine and John Chrastka,
who also were interested in spreading the benets of gaming, Dr. Nicholson founded an
ALA Games and Gaming members initiative group. At the outset, the goals for this group
were to create a space for all sorts of games, all sorts of users, and all sorts of libraries to
come together and share knowledge of and passion for gaming. This members initiative
group was the birth of the Games and Gaming group at ALA.

The Growth of Gaming in Libraries

The idea and practice of games and gaming is not new to libraries.2 Over the years,
many public libraries have made space available on an ongoing basis geared towards tradi-
tional gameplay, such as chess, checkers, cards and other board games, in addition to spon-
soring board game clubs.3 The idea of gaming in libraries has now expanded and includes
video game play, clubs, and tournaments.4 Collectible card games, such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, are
being included in tournament action, along with video console games, such as Super Smash
Brothers Brawl.5 For more information, a partial list of libraries that host gaming programs,
along with examples of the types of games offered, can be found at the Library Success: A
Best Practices Wiki on the Libraries Hosting Gaming programs page.6 Further, a number
of different models for gaming programs can be found through the ALA Library Gaming

44 Games in Libraries

Often, libraries have also made it possible for members of the community to host their
own games and clubs inside the library. For example, the National Scrabble Association
lists close to 750 libraries where people can play Scrabble.8 Libraries are optimal venues for
patron-hosted Scrabble club events.9 As an additional inspiration towards increased library
game hosting, Wizards of the Coast offers Dungeons & Dragons downloadable kits.10 Orig-
inally a game based on pencil, paper and a dice, Dungeons & Dragons has spawned a new
generation of library-oriented gamers.11 This is evidenced by the Afternoon Adventures for
Dungeons & Dragons kits, which are sold out at present owing to their popularity.12 As infor-
mation needed to solve problems in the game are readily available in the library setting,
Dungeons & Dragons would seem to be an effective and educational way to gather people
together to play. For example, if the quest requires a specic skill or knowledge, the library
would usually have a book detailing it, whether it is shipbuilding or architecture.13 Thus,
libraries are at a useful, in between place where they can offer games and gamers a place to
play away from home, in addition to an educational experience.

Digital Game Formats

While games are not new in themselves, game formats are in constant evolution.14
While at times, causing worry, it is the digital aspect of gaming that is generating much of
the excitement. Like other types of technology have done in times past, the new digital for-
mat is causing many to question the purpose and place of gaming in libraries. But is gaming
really that rare in a library? If not, why is it that so many libraries have come to accept and
even embrace the practice of games and gaming while others require hard data before they
will offer any support?
It is a common understanding that reading is good. Reading stimulates the brain and
imagination. Libraries exist because of the value our culture places on reading and literature.
Why would we want to allow space for games? Steven Johnson notes that reading came rst,
so it is seen as more benecial than other learning formats, such as games, in particular.15
He further notes that games could be as equally valuable for brain stimulation and asks the
reader to envision an alternate world where games came rst.16 Johnson argues that in this
alternate universe, games are seen as an immersive non-linear world with three-dimensional
musical soundscapes that can be navigated and controlled by the player, while books are
viewed as at words on a page where the reader has no control.17 In that alternate universe
context, Johnson goes on to point out that games are multisensory, while books only use a
small part of the brain.18 Further, in that alternate context, viewpoints could shift in favor
of games as offering the user a chance to work with others to solve a problem or explore,
whereas books could be seen as isolating to the reader.19 If games were rst, would people
wary of having parts of the library dedicated to books?
As John Kirriemuir notes, the majority of people who have not been exposed to gaming
get their knowledge of games from mass media.20 While Kirriemuir emphasizes that it is a
smaller percentage of the population who are unaware of what a video game really is, he
points out that the media being the primary informational source about gaming is an unfor-
tunate circumstance.21 This is due to the negative aspect given to games via the mainstream
media, as many times, if a game is being discussed on the news, it is due to a controversy
or about some perceived negative aspect of gaming.22
By contrast, people across all demographics play games that are safe, social and mentally
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 45

stimulating.James Paul Gee, who has written extensively on gaming, points out that good
video games incorporate good learning principles using identity, interaction, production,
risk taking and customization to immerse a person into a community of practice.23 Further,
a good game engages a person in a learning process so that they will go out of their way to
garner the knowledge needed to become better at their role in this identity.24 From a warrior
learning how to swing his sword and block his opponents more effectively, to a farmer plant-
ing the right crops, and even to a scientist trying to solve a problem and save the world,
games offer the ability to ll many roles and to increase ones knowledge of those roles in
the process.
While the mechanics needed to actualize these things in the real world are not easily
transferable, the ability to analyze and solve problems is something that the gamer can take
away from the gaming process as a benet of the experience. For example, Dungeons &
Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game mentioned in an earlier section, features warriors
who hack their way through treacherous environments with life and death balanced on the
roll-of-the-dice and basic math.25 A player has to analyze their character and its skills to
better survive campaigns.26
Another example where the gamers skill crosses over into real world use is in the game
Foldit.27 In 2011, scientists who could not solve a particular proteins structure challenged
the users of Foldit, an online protein folding puzzle game, to solve it.28 The Foldit players
were able to produce a basic model of the structure in less than a week.29 This model was
rened by the scientists to a workable model and has led to further scientic discoveries.30
Many games give players a way to learn from and interact with others. Farmville, the
free Zynga Facebook game, has been used in a managerial accounting class to help students
learn how to run a business.31 The instructor uses this game because it offers students a
chance to plan, budget, and invest, while working well with his course content.32 This game
also requires students to become familiar with social media in order to cooperate with other
students/farmers.33 There was no statistical difference between the scores of the students
who used Farmville and those that did not, but the students felt that it enriched their under-
standing of the course content.34
The ability to analyze and problem solve using gaming is a concept that is gaining
more traction in public school libraries and classrooms. Teachers and librarians who game
have realized that gaming is a great way to learn. The American Association of School
Librarians (AASL) wrote Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, which is a set of beliefs
for creating an efcient learner.35 Brian Mayer points out the ways games address at least
three of these beliefs directly, which include: reading is a window to the world; inquiry pro-
vides a framework for learning; and the denition of information literacy has become more
complex as resources and technologies have changed.36 Games offer ways to address each
of these beliefs easily in a way that engages and challenges students. Mayer emphasizes that
quality games provide a way to address these beliefs by giving students an opportunity to
raise and explore deep and meaningful questions.37 These inquiries happen in a safe envi-
ronment where the student is free to grow and explore, modifying behavior with no real
adverse consequence.38 That is, a poor decision in the gaming environment does not harm
the student, but rather, it allows them to modify her behavior in order to achieve success.39
Games allow a student to take on an identity, learn about that identity through reading and
observation, and then use what they read to help them navigate successfully through the
game environment. These are some of the positive aspects of engagement in games. GameRT
hopes to advocate for games and gaming by highlighting these key benets of gaming.
46 Games in Libraries

In 2007, Scott Nicholson and some of his Syracuse University LIS students conducted
a phone survey to gauge the state of gaming in libraries. Their study broadly dened gaming
to include anything from hosting the local chess club to allowing patrons to play Web-
based games to circulating tabletop or digital games to providing resources for patrons to
create their own games.40 With a result of at least 77 percent of the public libraries sup-
porting gaming in some form or fashion, this sample of 400 public libraries showed that
gaming is not rare in public library settings.41 Further, another 43 percent of these libraries
actively run gaming programs, although only 20 percent circulate games.42 Over eighty per-
cent of the libraries agreed that their patrons also play web-based computer games on the
public PCs while visiting the library.43
Why have games as part of a library collection? As many libraries have provided access
to traditional card and board games for years, why does offering games in different formats
or expanding on the games collection appear daunting to so many? Each time a new tech-
nology or format is introduced, it seems that libraries face similar questions. Sandy Farmer
expresses it best when it comes to collecting this type of material in our libraries:
Children and teens without access to video games are missing out on a part of their
culture that is and will be relevant to them in the future. While older generations can sing
the entire Gilligans Island theme song, children today have entire conversations that take
place using a cultural frame of reference that comes from video gaming.44
The Entertainment Software Association reports on the state of the digital gaming industry
each year. Their 2012 report found that the average digital game player is 30, and that 37
percent of game players are over 36.45 About sixty percent of parents play games with their
children at least once a month.46 While these reports focus on digital games and do not take
into account the number of games of Monopoly, Clue or other card and board games in house-
holds, the numbers alone make clear that gaming is relevant to children, teens, and adults.47
Further, it is about the time spent and the continuity of a practice over time and how that
practice affects those engaging in it. In the case of gaming, the time and continuity of practice
aspects have rendered it an important part of the culture and have done so for decades.
Thus, it can be said that games are entwined with the cultural aspects of the community.
This inuence is an ongoing process renewing itself over time, with new players coming
into the fold, introduced by those who came before. For example, there are many adults
who are introducing their children to classic video, board and card games they themselves
played as children and young adults. John Kirriemuir notes that despite seeming new, video
games have been played inside homes for over 30 years.48 He points out that access to video
game consoles such as Atari, was available in the mid70s onwards.49 In terms of providing
access to this type of classic video games collection, libraries could do so not only because
it reects an aspect of culture, a snapshot from a moment in time, but also as an additional,
non-nostalgic basis for understanding technological capabilities and platforms available at
the time, for those who wish to be the game creators of future generations. In view of games
and their position as culturally inuential, it is imperative that libraries collect these items,
as games are relevant to the cultures and lifestyles of the surrounding community.

Gaming Industry Figures and Demographics

Michael Gallagher, the President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association
(ESA), emphasizes that games are pervasive in electronics, as the great majority of electronic
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 47

devices have a screen allowing for interactive gameplay.50 Further, the gaming industry,
especially in the area of digital games, is having a huge impact on American culture and its
economy.51 For example, ESA reports that in 2011, consumers spent about $24.75 billion
on video games, hardware and accessories, including handheld devices.52 This shows that
digital games, in particular, are an economic force. Stephen Siwek points to gures showing
that the entertainment software industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the
United States economy with growth of 10.6 percent from 2005 to 2009 and 16.7 percent
from 2005 to 2008.53 In terms of digital formats alone, the study shows that the retail sales
of digital formats rose in 2011 by 11 percent from 2009 gures, while the sale of physical
formats has dropped by the same percentage during that time.54 While overall growth in
the industry has slowed slightly in the last few years, as detailed in the above prot gure
variances between 2008 and 2009,55 discounting video games is to ignore a large part of
the communitys culture.
Who plays games? There is a long-standing myth that portrays gamers as antisocial,56
teenaged boys.57 However, according to the ESA 2012 Study, American players are an average
age of 30 years old58 and 47 percent are women,59 which reframes the image of gamers.
David Farrier reports that in 2010, a gaming survey for Interactive Games & Entertainment
Association (iGEA) was conducted by Bond University of New Zealand, showing that 78
percent of New Zealand gamers surveyed are over 18 years of age,60 while the average gamer
is 33 years of age.61 In the iGEA survey, the results showed that 44 percent of gamers
are women, while 56 percent are men.62 Numbers, overall, point to the fact that gamers
are not teenaged boys. The idea that gamers are antisocial was deftly dealt with by Lina
Eklund, whose study at Stockholm University showed that gamers playing games with
family is such a common activity that the media-created myth of the lone gamer must
be questioned.63 These results are in line with the ESA 2012 Study numbers, which show
that 62 percent of American gamers are playing with others in person or online.64 According
to that report, 78 percent of players who play in groups do so at least one hour per week,
while 33 percent of those surveyed play social games.65 Even further, 40 percent of gamers
play with their friends and 34 play with their family members.66 These statistics show that
games are an important part of our social makeup and culture, notwithstanding gender and
Board games are also seeing prot increases, as according to the NDP Group, board
game sales gures rose about 3 percent in 2009.67 In 2008, NDP reported that board games
had climbed 6 percent to $794 million in sales, which was even more signicant, as overall
toy sales had declined 3 percent during that same year.68 Just prior to that time, there was
some uctuation in the board game sales market, as after having their best year in 2006
with $802.2 million in sales, which was a 13 percent increase over 2005, board game sales
had dropped off 9 percent in 2007.69 However, the more recent gures show that the board
game market is on the upswing, pointing to an increase in the popularity of board games.
As a clue to this phenomenon, R.J. Street opined that board games sales, while appearing
to be somewhat recession-proof, are also most likely being bolstered by hobby games increas-
ing visibility in the retail markets, owing to their being sold in a larger variety of stores,
including book sellers, such as Barnes & Noble, as well as major retail chains.70 Yehuda
Berlinger notes in Purple Pawns 2012 Worldwide Game Industry Survey: Covering Non sports,
Non video Games that mainstream board games sales are supported by brand associations,
which are driven by popular movies, television shows, books and book series.71
According to the 200405 Statistical Abstract on the United States, 17.7 percent of
48 Games in Libraries

Americans (37 million people) had played a board game in the preceding 12 month period.72
In fact, board games are such an important part of culture that Hasbro recently polled the
public as to which Monopoly game piece should be retired and what should replace it.73
The vice-president of marketing for Hasbro Gaming, Jonathan Berkowitz, said that people
from all over the world voted in this contest.74 There were fans from 120 countries, including
Djibouti, Guam, Kyrgyzstan, and Liechtenstein.75 This event not only garnered attention
for a well-loved game, but it showed that people are vested in their favorite pieces and that
even a simple game piece has meaning to them as a gamer.

The Games and Gaming Round Table is a collective of librarians who know that
games are great for libraries. This round table hopes to be the place where all librarians
can go for information and assistance in collecting and maintaining a game collection regard-
less of format. Although libraries probably have had some games available for patrons,
these same libraries are now actively creating collections centered on gaming and game cre-
ation and nd that they need an advocate. GameRT wishes to be that advocate for these
libraries and others who are expanding into the new horizons of the digital gaming expe-
The ofcial mission of the Games and Gaming Round Table (GameRT) is to provide:
a forum for the exchange of ideas and concerns surrounding games in libraries;
a myriad of resources for the library community that support the building and
maintaining of library game collections;
a force for initiating and supporting game programming in libraries;
an awareness of, and need for, and the support of the value of gaming and play in
libraries, schools, and related learning communities;
create an awareness of the value of games and gaming in library outreach and
community engagement plans; and
a professional and social forum for networking among librarians and non-
librarians interested in games and gaming.76
What does GamesRT wish to provide and specically what do we see, at this time, to
be issues that libraries need to address in order to support games and gaming? In a nutshell,
GamesRT wishes to provide support for librarians by offering resources for, advancing the
awareness of games and gaming in libraries, in a professional forum where they can meet,
discuss issues and solve problems in the area of games and gaming in libraries. There are
many issues that GamesRT sees as extremely important to the practical management of
games and gaming in libraries, including curation and preservation, intellectual property,
cataloging and collection development, which will be discussed in the sections below.
Further, the American Library Association was created to provide leadership for the
development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the
profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information
for all.77 GameRT will use the resources offered by ALA to help with the specic goal of
providing a place for exchanging ideas and concerns for games in libraries, in addition to
the underlying goals of gaming advocacy and awareness, as detailed in the GamesRT mission
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 49

Facilitating Connections
Our rst goal is to offer a space for GameRT members to exchange ideas. This space
is now available to current GameRT members in the ALA Connect forum. Members
of GameRT are able to see a list of other members and post questions or ideas related to
games and gaming. Through this forum, we can also connect members to other parts of
the ALA that are focusing on gaming, such as the YALSA Gaming Interest group and
the LITA Game Making Interest group. One of the ongoing roles of the GameRT is to
become the gaming nexus for people across the organization to nd each other and share
The American Library Association holds an annual Midwinter Meeting and Annual
Conference with an approximate combined presence of 35,000 attendees.78 GameRT is
given a space and allotted time during each of these events to hold meetings and give pre-
sentations. This is a great way for GameRT and its members to disseminate specic knowl-
edge not only to members of the round table, but also an opportunity to learn and share
with others who have an interest in games. GameRT presentations have been very well
received, with a broad range of subjects such as event planning, assessment, and metadata
related to gaming.
Another event that the GameRT helps facilitate is ALA Play, which is a social event
every Friday night of the ALA Annual Conference.79 At ALA Play, attendees can experience
a wide variety of games, costume play (cosplay), graphic novels, and other forms of play
appropriate for all ages. Librarians looking to try out a wide variety of gaming experiences
can do so in this safe and fun environment with gaming experts from GameRT. ALA Play
was started through a grant by the Verizon Foundation to explore games and literacy.80 ALA
Play, as an event, was so popular that it has continued at annual ALA meetings since that

Inspiring Local Programs

In sponsoring ALA International Games Day @ Your Library (IGD), GameRT already
provides one avenue for libraries to offer outreach and support for games and gaming. This
event was started by Jenny Levine and Scott Nicholson in 2007, and grew out of an idea
to attempt to set a worlds record for the number of people playing the same game at the
same time at libraries around the world. IGD is in its fth year and is a valuable way for
libraries and their communities to join together and engage in play on one specied day
each year in the fall; specic information for upcoming events can be found at the ofcial
IGD website, which is In addition, IGD has been useful in raising
awareness of gaming in libraries to the publishers of games; in response, publishers such as
Hasbro, North Star Games, PopCap and Ravensburger have supported the effort with free
games for participating libraries. IGD has been a great success across the United States and
the world, with approximately 100,000 participants since its start. This important event
includes over 1,000 libraries each year playing a wide variety of digital and table top games.
Several tournaments are hosted allowing competitions with gamers in all 50 states and from
several countries around the world including Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines and
the United Kingdom.82 During IGD, participating libraries run a gaming program that is
relevant to their local community. Many of the sponsors have provided libraries with different
50 Games in Libraries

tabletop games over the years and ALA members have created video guides to help libraries
learn how to use those games for a gaming experience. The Ann Arbor District Library has
coordinated national video game tournaments for the event; in 2012, these were a Mario
Kart and Super Smash Brothers Brawl tournament.83 Other libraries run board game events,
either providing the games or encouraging patrons to bring their own games.
As a library with a reluctant administration can use this nationally-sponsored event to
show the benet of gaming as a tool for engagement within the library, it is of value to the
library. This type of event is helpful for getting people of all ages together to play and inter-
act. Once a library has this audience, they can promote other library services as well.
GameRT has a committee that helps guide people through hosting this event each year.
Once a library sees how easy a gaming event can be, they can go on to use it as a model for
any other gaming events that they wish to lead on their own. Even though this event is a
great success each year it is a small part of what GameRT seeks to achieve, organizationally,
on behalf of librarians and the communities they serve.
Gamers are everywhere. Librarians who wish to show off everything that the library
offers know that this shared interest is a great way to get people into the library. Gaming
events can be used to get people of all ages into a library. Once patrons are there a library
can then introduce other aspects of the library that are useful, teach patrons how to use the
library more efciently, or even start to encourage patrons to create their own games. These
types of events help people realize that the library is not just a storage space, but a place to
learn and engage. GameRT hopes to encourage and guide librarians in the use of games as
an outreach tool.

Game Creation in Libraries

One plan in the works is for GameRT is to support librarians who wish to add game
creation to their librarys existing programs. Game creation programs can be very powerful
in drawing in patrons who already enjoy games and enabling them to take that next step
and create games. The concept of creating games mixes the concept of games with the
Maker movement, which is reusing and repairing things to avoid buying new replacements.84
This is another useful service that is growing in libraries. Listed below are several advantages
in game creation programs as opposed to game playing programs.
Game creation programs can be much cheaper than trying to keep up with the newest
consoles and technology required by game playing programs. Tabletop games can be made
out of poster board, index cards, dice, and playing pieces. Game modication can start with
existing games where players can create their own rules and cards. Games dont have to be
played on a table; since the heart of a game is play, any way that people can come up to
play with something can then be turned into a game by adding rules and goals. A library
game design program for families can come out of just using the tchotckies miscellanea col-
lected from the ALA exhibits to create games!
There are a number of free or inexpensive tools to help libraries wanting to run a
digital game design program. For children and those just starting to program, Scratch
( is a free tool designed to teach programming concepts through dragging,
dropping, and experimenting. Over three million games created in Scratch are available
through the vibrant Scratch community website.85 While Scratch is a powerful tool, it has
a cartoon-based interface which may turn away teenagers. The Kodu Game Lab is a visual
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 51

programming tool used to make games on either the PC (free) or the Xbox ($5.00), and
may be a better choice for teen patrons. There is a Kodu community website with games,
tutorials, and other resources useful to librarians wanting to run a Kodu program at http:// Another free tool worth considering is Choicescript (http://www. Choicescript is a program-
ming language used to create text-based choose-your-own-adventure games, which can t
in well with a reading program. Unlike Scratch and Kodu, Choicescript is a text-based
coding language; however, as it is designed to assist with a specic type of game, it is not
as complex as most languages.
Game creation uses many more skills than it takes to play games. To create a game,
patrons have to be proactive and make a plan, be creative, develop goals, overcome obstacles,
develop rules, build up the game and then test and revise the game. As a side note, teens
who are not interested in careers may nd they can use their passion for games to connect
with careers in art, programming, music, writing, or design. For stakeholders skeptical of
gaming in libraries, game creation in libraries can be a justiable compromise because of
the broad set of skills required. Librarians looking to learn more about game design can
read Rules of Play (Salen and Zimmerman) for an academic treatment or Game Design: How
to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish (Pulsipher) for a hands-on approach. In
addition, the LITA Game Making Interest Group can provide additional guidance in this
Game creation is still game playing! During the game creation process, participants
will be playing and testing games. When the games are nished, a different library program
can be held to have a game fair where the public can be invited to play games created by
members of the community. All of the benets in playing games still exist for creating
games. At the Georgetown County Library System, they have used game design in several
ways from engaging youth in technology through video game design to supporting other
programs by using game design as a focus for topic related activities. Donald Dennis, BYTES
program manager, says that our best success came with adapting North Star Games party
games Wits and Wagers and Say Anything as research objectives and social consciousness
aids. Youth would research questions for the Wits and Wages game show we hosted in sup-
port of our Personal Investment Education (PIE) programming sponsored by FINRA. This
allowed us to offer rewards both for participating in game events and for helping us craft
the game questions we used.86
Game design programs do not have to take months of weekly meetings. Game Jams
are events where people get together and make games in a few hours or a few days. The
Global Game Jam is a 2-day event where sites around the world create digital and tabletop
games on the same topic87; libraries can host a local site for the Global Game Jam to get
involved with game creation. Libraries can also run a Game Jam for their own library,
inviting participants to come together and create games for the library! One future area of
development in GameRT is to work with the LITA Game Making Interest Group to support
libraries in their game creation efforts.88

To date, there is no periodical dedicated solely to games and gaming in libraries.
GameRT wishes to highlight publications that are useful and to eventually create a publi-
52 Games in Libraries

cation of its own. A publication of this type would offer librarians a place to publish their
ideas on games and gaming programming in libraries, collection development issues, and
ideas as to how gaming can be used in the area of education and information literacy in
one place. Despite the popularity of gaming, many people do not understand the diversity
of games. A publication for librarians pointing out the benets of gameplay would be bene-
cial to education and learning.
But what would librarians publish? There are already many well regarded blogs on
gaming, game reviews, and the industry such as Gamasutra,89 Kotaku,90 and Board Game
Geek.91 While there are quite a few general articles about libraries and gaming, there are
not many that describe the specics of games and gaming in libraries. Some of the articles
that might be most helpful to librarians can be found in the chapter, Gaming Resources for
Librarians, A-Z and Beyond: An Annotated Bibliography by Jonathan Kirsch. GameRT also
has an online space where our members can post information and best practices related to
gaming in libraries.92 The group hopes to expand on this space and make this information
easily accessible as well as up to date, in order to be benecial for librarians in charge of
evolving collections. GameRT will be a place to access useful information for several areas
related to gaming.

Collection Development
One area of interest is the subject of collection development. It is one area, in particular,
where GameRT is keen to see more activity. Many libraries are collecting with their patrons
leisure needs in mind, but there is also a need for guidance in historical and educational
collections. Selection criteria are currently being developed at individual academic libraries.
Elizabeth Tappeiner and Catherine Lyons published a paper in 2008 that provides a good
start for an academic collection with a goal of supporting academic study in a variety of
elds, including media and cultural studies, visual arts, and educational psychology.93
Their criteria are physical characteristics, implications for teaching and learning, subject
content, and the cultural and historical value of the game.94 Danielle Kane, Catherine
Soehner, and Wei Wei recommend establishing a selection policy that takes into account
content, added value, ease-of-use and maintenance.95 Brian Mayer and Christopher Harris
have provided helpful guidelines for starting a school library board game collection in their
2010 book, Libraries Got Game: Aligned Learning through Modern Board Games.96 Their
goal was to have a curriculum aligned collection that could be used as an education resource,
not just in one school but across the whole district.97 These games would need to be fun
to engage the students, but would also need to meet curriculum standards across content
In considering what to add to a library game collection, physical characteristics and
access or ease-of-use are also very important. What type of game format is good for a par-
ticular library? Most libraries will have to consider the implications of their chosen format(s)
and its evolution as technology changes. A board game collection is a good place to start
when developing a gaming collection. This type of collection is less costly than a video
games collection and can be used in-house or circulated. While any library that deals with
audio-visual collections should be used to changes in technology, video game collections
will have additional issues. For example, decisions will need to be made about older games
and formats. How do we access these older games? Is the collection split between an archive
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 53

collection of older games for display only and a selection of playable games for use? Is an
emulated game as good as the original played with the original console and controllers?
Does the library just want to move forward with the new games or do the plans include an
effort to preserve the old?
Another collection development decision is the types of titles to be collected. Collection
development decisions need to be made that support the librarys mission. There are
many genres of games and a library can choose to collect one or all of them. While these
titles could be the popular games that everyone loves to play, they could also be titles that
have achieved other goals or hold value aside from great gameplay. For example, a well-
designed game can be a form of visual ne art, which would give that game added appeal
for visually-inspired game animators. Although some critics, such as Jonathon Jones,
argue that games cannot be art because they are not a personal vision,99 the Museum of
Modern Art (MoMA) has added fourteen video games to its collection. MoMA picked
these games which include the titles Myst, Portal, and Flow because of their design qualities.
John Maeda argues that this is appropriate because they do offer an experience although it
is the users experience and not the artists.100 Other questions can also be asked. What is
the value added to a collection by collecting any particular title? What are the greatest games
of all time? Who gets to decide? These questions can most aptly be answered by the library
itself, in terms of the needs of its community, which are reected in the mission of the
What value does each game have to the collection as whole? In their paper, Mary
Laskowski and David Ward talk about the value of the video game collection at the Uni-
versity of Illinois.101 Their article reiterates the need for a good core collection, but emphasizes
moving beyond just commercial games towards collecting user-created content, non-
commercial games, web-based games and even game modications.102 Game modications,
mods, are user-created content. Publishers allow this modication of copyrighted content
because it garners loyalty and extends the life of the game. User-created and non-commercial
game creation will become cheaper and more readily available for consoles with the release
of the Android-based Ouya console, which has a completely open design.103 These new
developments encourage libraries to focus on content and how the game adds value to the
collection much more than format. Librarians developing a table top game collection need
to consider a core collection as well. There are many different types of genres that accomplish
different goals for this format as well. Libraries Got Game: Aligned Learning Through Modern
Board Games by Brian Mayer and Christopher Harris lists great games for school libraries.104

Negotiating Licensing Agreements

Licensing and rights management for games in libraries can be complicated for digital
games collections. Currently, libraries are struggling with the legal implications of end user
licensing agreements (click agreements), digital rights management and streaming game
portals. These legal issues can greatly hinder the collection of digital PC and streaming
However, Darby Orcutt of North Carolina State University Libraries offers an easy
and effective way to negotiate digital streaming rights, which is to try focusing on getting
the perpetual rights granted rather than making negotiations in terms of leased content.105
In this way, it is possible to make a collection that is available to its users on a continued
54 Games in Libraries

basis without having to worry about changing terms of licensing agreements. With that
idea in mind, Ms. Orcutt has created a standardized agreement for most copyright holders
that is clear and easy to understand.106 Easily adaptable for use in any academic library, the
wording of the agreement is as follows: A license for unlimited, protected by authentication,
streaming in perpetuity to all registered staff, faculty, students, and patrons at North Carolina
State University.107
By succeeding in this particularly thorny issue, Ms. Orcutt has led the way for other
academic librarians to easily negotiate their own agreements for streaming rights in perpe-
tuity. GamesRT looks forward to providing guidance to academic and other libraries with
intellectual property rights concerns, in addition to offering creative alternatives in the area
of digital rights management, licensing and other agreements.

Curation and Preservation

Once we have a collection how do we preserve it? What type of preservation is needed
for video games? What type of preservation is needed for tabletop games? Can games be cir-
culated or is in-house the best option? These questions need to be answered by each library.
While recycling old games, a librarian might decide to collect new games. However, many
libraries want to have an archive of every card game ever invented. If so, the library needs
to make decisions for collecting, curating and preserving these items so others can benet
from the work.
Gaming enthusiasts realized the need for preservation of games early on. Technology
is advancing so quickly that many games that they loved were being left behind in older
formats. They began trying to save games from disappearing by programming emulators.
To save a game, programmers write software that mimics the operating systems of older
arcade machines, consoles, and operating systems. Programmers are also able to copy the
code from some of these older games so they could be played on the emulators.108 Librarians
and archivists appreciate the work that these groups have started, but this work was done
without consistent consideration of the rights holders and many of them do not follow
copyright law.109 More institutions are now actively collecting and preserving video games
and the hardware it runs on. Trevor Owens, a digital archivist with the Library of Congress,
says that video games are a challenge for preservationists because rights issues and the variety
of hardware and software platforms.110 The Library of Congress is one of the entities collecting
video games and dealing with these issues. Their primary goal for this 3,000 item collection
was simply proper storage of each game, box and guide into an archival box.111 Preserving
Virtual Worlds is another entity led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences.112 They released a nal report that
discusses the challenges related to preserving a virtual world with Second Life as their case
study.113 The Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection on the History of Microcomputing at Stan-
ford University, which documents computer gaming from the late 1970s through 1995, is
one of the broadest digital game collections available, having 6,300 pieces of commercially
available software.114 This vast collection also includes game realia, mostly in the area of
hand-held devices, along with hardware and printed materials.115 The University of Texas
at Austin has also begun collecting video games and their related hardware.116 As more and
more institutions begin this process, information about the best way to preserve and curate
this type of material will be made available.
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 55

Cataloging Issues
If a library has a collection is it necessary to catalog it? Again, this is a local decision.
There are resources available for describing both tabletop and board games. Many games
do have records in Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC). Efforts are underway
to create more efcient metadata for these records. The Online Video Catalogers Cataloging
Policy Committee is in the process of forming a subcommittee to create genre headings for
video games. This committee will determine if video games need genre terms, evaluate the
available Library of Congress Subject Headings and poll expert communities for suitable
terms. New terms will be created if needed. The nished list of terms will be forwarded to
the Library of Congress.117 There will be at least one GameRT liaison present on this sub-
committee to provide input and follow up on the work being done. The University of
Washington Information School collaborated with the Seattle Interactive Media Museum
to develop a metadata scheme for describing video games. They developed a core metadata
scheme and cataloged this collection to determine the schemes usability. This test showed
that video games, like other non-text items, are challenging to describe. Future plans will
include extending the core elements and a user study to gather information on elements
useful to gamers.
As was noted above, GamesRT wishes to provide support for librarians by offering
resources for, advancing the awareness of games and gaming in libraries, in a professional
forum where librarians can meet, discuss issues and solve problems in the area of games
and gaming in libraries. While there are many issues involved in the practical management
of games and gaming in libraries, including curation and preservation, intellectual property,
cataloging and collection development, these issues can be brought to the GamesRT envi-
ronment, where they can be discussed with the assistance of other librarians who are also
interested in games and gaming in libraries. One thing that GamesRT especially wishes to
do is to gather up the vast knowledge of our membership and create basic guidelines as to
best practices for all of these issues. A go-to resource of this type is particularly valuable to
anyone starting a collection or beginning game related programs. Further, best practices
standards can be used to convince the administration to participate as well as show that
many goals can easily be met without great expense. A game collection can be many things,
in theory, but to be able to provide this type of collection, in reality, libraries need guidance
in the areas of technology, copyright, and access. GameRT hopes to provide this guidance
by being a place for people to share their knowledge and ideas.

1. Scott Nicholson, Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages (Medford,
NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2010), xiii, accessed December 11, 2012,
2. Scott Nicholson, Go Back to Start: Gathering Baseline Data about Gaming in Libraries, Library
Review 58, no. 3 (2009): para. 2, accessed December 11, 2012, doi: 10.1108/00242530910942054.
3. Ibid.
4. Teen Game Night, Whats Happening for Teens?, Bloomingdale Public Library, accessed February
21, 2013,
5. Ibid.
6. Libraries Hosting Gaming Programs, LibSuccess, last modied December 7, 2012, http://www.lib
7. The Librarians Guide to Gaming: An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming @Your Library, American
Library Association, accessed February 21, 2012,
56 Games in Libraries

8. Scrabble Library Roster, National Scrabble Association, accessed February 19, 2012, http://www2.
9. Welcome to Libraries, National Scrabble Association, accessed February 19, 2012, http://www2.
10. Afternoon Adventure with D&D, Wizards of the Coast, accessed March 4, 2013, http://www.wizards.
11. About Dungeon and Dragons, Wizards of the Coast, accessed March 4, 2013, http://www.wizards.
12. Afternoon Adventure with D&D.
13. Peter Bebergal, How D&D Taught Me to Use the Library, Wizards of the Coast, accessed March 4,
14. Nicholson, Go Back to Start: Gathering Baseline Data about Gaming in Libraries.
15. Steven Johnson, Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Todays Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us
Smarter (New York: Riverhead Books, 2005), 1819.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid., 20.
19. Ibid.
20. John Kirriemuir, The Librarian as Video Game Player, New Review Of Information Networking 12
(2006): 61, accessed December 5, 2012, doi: 10.1080/13614570701198262.
21. Ibid., 61.
22. Ibid.
23. James Paul Gee, Good Video Games and Good Learning, Phi Kappa Phi Forum 85, no. 2, (2005):
34, accessed December 5, 2012, Library & Information Science Source,
24. Ibid.
25. About Dungeon and Dragons.
26. Dungeons & Dragons Mathematics, The Monkey House, last modied May 4, 2008, http://www.
27. Fold it: Solve Puzzles for Science,, last modied March 13, 2012,
28. Leila Gray, Gamers Succeed Where Scientists Fail, UW Today, September 19, 2011, http://www.
29. Ibid., para. 4.
30. Ibid.
31. Cynthia L. Krom, Using Farmville in an Introductory Managerial Accounting Course to Engage Stu-
dents, Enhance Comprehension, and Develop Social Networking Skills, Journal of Management Education
36, no. 6, (2012): 849, accessed March 4, 2013, doi: 10.1177/1052562912459029.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Ibid., 858.
35. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, American Association of School Librarians, accessed February
27, 2013,
36. Brian Mayer, Games and the 21st-Century Standards An Ideal Partnership. Knowledge Quest 40,
no. 1: 4651 (2011): 48, accessed February 27, 2013, Library & Information Science Source, https://libproxy.
library. unt. edu:9443/ login?url = http:// search. ebscohost. com/ login. aspx?direct = true&db = lls&AN = 525
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid.
39. Ibid.
40. Scott Nicholson, The Role of Gaming in Libraries: Taking the Pulse (2007): 2, accessed February
12, 2013,
41. Ibid.
42. Ibid.
43. Ibid., 25.
44. Sandy Farmer, Gaming 2.0, American Libraries Magazine (2013): 1, accessed December 11, 2012,
45. Entertainment Software Association, Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry, 2012
Sales, Demographic and Usage Data, Entertainment Software Association, accessed March 4, 2013, http://
46. Ibid.
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 57

47. Ibid.
48. Kirriemuir, The Librarian as Video Game Player, 61.
49. Ibid.
50. Entertainment Software Association, 2.
51. Ibid.
52. Ibid., 11.
53. Stephen E. Siwek, Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 Report (2010): 1, Entertainment Soft-
ware Association, accessed March 4, 2013,
54. Entertainment Software Association, Essential Facts, 11.
55. Siwek, Video Games in the 21st Century, 1.
56. Lina Eklund, New Research Changes the Image of the Typical Computer Gamer, Press Release,
Stockholm University, January 14, 2013, accessed March 4, 2013,
57. David Farrier, NZ Gamers Not Just Anti-social Teenage Boys: Study, 3News, August 16, 2010, para.13,
58. Entertainment Software Association, Essential Facts, 2.
59. Ibid., 3.
60. Farrier, NZ Gamers, para. 14.
61. Ibid., para. 20.
62. Ibid., para. 21.
63. Eklund, New Research Changes, para. 6.
64. Entertainment Software Association, Essential Facts, 5.
65. Ibid.
66. Ibid.
67. R. J. Street, Board Game Sales Up Analysis Runs Rampant, Purple Pawn: Game News across the
Board, accessed February 22, 2013,
68. Board Games Up 6% in 2008 to $794 Million, ICv2, February, 16, 2009,
69. R. J. Street, Board Game Sales Up, para 2.
70. Ibid.
71. Yehuda Berlinger, 2012 Worldwide Game Industry Survey: Covering Non sports, Non video Games,
Purple Pawn, March 7, 2013: 3,
72. United States and U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004. (Washington,
DC: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, Data User
Services Division, 20042005), 764, accessed February 22, 2013,
73. Adriana Pratt, Monopoly Gamers Choose the Cat to Replace the Iron, ABC News, February 6, 2013,
74. Ibid., para. 5.
75. Ibid.
76. GameRT (Games and Gaming Round Table) | ALA Connect, ALA Connect, accessed December
12, 2012,
77. Mission & History | American Library Association, American Library Association, accessed December
12, 2012,
78. Conference Services | American Library Association, American Library Association, accessed Decem-
ber 12, 2012,
79. Robin Brenner, June 1, 2012 (7:00 pm), comment on ALA Connect, ALA Play 2012 Costume Theme:
Doctor Who & Steampunk, ALA Connect, last modied June 1, 2012,
80. Archive for the Verizon Grant Category, American Library Association, last modied April 28, 2009,
81. New Date for IGD13-November 16, International Games Day@ Your Library, American Library
Association, January, 23, 2013,
82. Jenny Levine, Libraries Got Game during International Games Day @ Your Library, Hufngton Post,
November 2, 2012,
83. International Games Day 2012 Wrap-up: So Much Awesomeness, I Love, An Initiative
of the American Library Association, accessed February 22, 2013,
84. Description: Maker Movement, P2P Foundation, last modied March 4, 2013, http://p2pfounda
58 Games in Libraries

85. Lifelong Kindergarten Group, Scratch: Imagine, Program, Share, MIT Media Lab, accessed January
17, 2013,
86. Donald Dennis, email message to Scott Nicholson, March 7, 2013.
87. Global Game Jam | January 2527, 2013, last modied March 3, 2013,
88. LITA Game Making Interest Group, American Library Association, accessed January 17, 2013,
89. Gamasutra: The Art and Business of Making Games, Gamasutra, accessed March 4, 2013, http://
90. Kotaku, The Gamers Guide, Kotaku, accessed March 4, 2013,
91. Gaming Blogs Wiki, Board Game Geek, accessed March 4, 2013,
92. Games in Libraries, American Library Association, accessed January 17, 2013, http://www.shforinfo.
93. Elizabeth Tappeiner and Catherine Lyons, Selection Criteria for Academic Video Game Collections,
Collection Building 27, no. 3 (2008): 121, accessed February 12, 2013, doi: 10.1108/01604950810886040.
94. Ibid.
95. Danielle Kane, Catherine Soehner, and Wei Wei, Building a Collection of Video Games in Support
of a Newly Created Degree Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Science & Technolog y Libraries
27, no. 4 (2007): 8384, accessed February 12, 2013, doi:10.1300/J122v27n04_06.
96. Brian Mayer and Christopher Harris, Libraries Got Game Aligned Learning through Modern Board
Games (Chicago: American Library Association, 2010): 6465, accessed February 12, 2013, http://public.
97. Ibid.
98. Ibid.
99. Jonathon Jones, Sorry MoMA, Video Games Are Not Art, Jonathan Jones on Art Blog, The
Guardian, November 30, 2012,
100. John Maeda, Video Games Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art, Opinion, Voices from the
Field, Wired, December 4, 2012,
101. Mary Laskowski and David Ward, Building the Next Generation of Video Game Collections in Aca-
demic Libraries, The Journal of Academic Librarianship 35, no.3 (2010): 269273, doi:10.1016/j.acalib.
102. Ibid.
103. Ouya Console, OuyaConsole, accessed March 4, 2013,
104. Brian Mayer, Libraries Got Game, 81.
105. Darby Orcutt, Mainstreaming Media: Innovating Media Collections at the NCSU Libraries, Pro-
ceedings of the Charleston Library Conference (2011): 451452, accessed March 4, 2013, doi: 10.5703/12882
106. Ibid., 452.
107. Ibid.
108. Libby, Jeffrey S, The Best Games in Life are Free?: Video Game Emulation in a copyrighted world,
Suffolk University Law Review 36 (2003): 843, accessed March 4, 2013,
game+emulation+in+a+copyrighted+world percent29+and+date+is+2003.
109. Joanna Barwick, James Dearnley and Adrienne Muir, Playing Games with Cultural Heritage: A
Comparative Case Study Analysis, Games and Culture 6, no. 373 (2011): 376, accessed March 4, 2013, doi:
110. Trevor Owens, Yes, The Library of Congress Has Video Games; An interview with David Gibson,
The Signal Blog, Digital Preservation (blog), Library of Congress, September 26, 2012,
111. Ibid.
112. How Will We Preserve Virtual Worlds?, Preserving Virtual Worlds: An NDIIPP-Partner Project
Led by UIUC in Partnership with Maryland, RIT, Stanford and the Library of Congress, accessed March 4,
113. Jerome P. McDonough, Robert Olendorf, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, Doug Reside, Rachel
Donahue, Andrew Phelps, Christopher Egert, Henry Lowood, and Susan Rojo, Preservation of a Virtual
World Final Report, IDEALS: Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship, August
31, 2010,
114. Scope and Content: The Cabrinety Collection on the History of Microcomputing, Stanford Uni-
versity, paras. 12, accessed March 4, 2013,
The State of the Game (Robson, Nicholson and McPeek) 59

115. Ibid., paras. 34.

116. Ramona Kelly, The Center for American History at UT Austin Announces New Video game Archive,
Briscoe Center for American History, Press Release, University of Texas, April 19, 2007, http://www.cah.utex
117. OLAC/Cataloging Policy Committee (CAPC): ALA Annual Meeting Minutes: Friday, June 22,
2012, OLAC/Cataloging Policy Committee, accessed December 12, 2012,
les/archived_minutes/CAPCminutes2012-06-22.pdf; Jin Ha Lee, Joseph T. Tennis, and Rachel Ivy Clarke.
Domain Analysis for a Video Game Metadata Schema: Issues and Challenges, Theory and Practice of Digital
Libraries, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 7489 (Berlin, Heidelberg, Germany: Springer 2012), 280
285, accessed March 4, 2013, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-33290-6_30.

American Association for School Librarians. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Accessed February 27,
American Library Association. Archive for the Verizon Grant Category. Last modied April 28, 2009.
American Library Association. Conference Services | American Library Association. Accessed December
12, 2012.
American Library Association. GameRT (Games and Gaming Round Table) | ALA Connect. Accessed
December 12, 2012.
American Library Association. The Librarians Guide to Gaming: An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming
@Your Library. Accessed February 21, 2012.
American Library Association. LITA Game Making Interest Group. Accessed January 17, 2013. http://www.
American Library Association. Mission & History | American Library Association. Accessed December 12,
American Library Association. New Date for IGD13-November 16. International Games Day@ Your Library.
Last modied January, 23, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2012.
Barwick, Joanna, James Dearnley, and Adrienne Muir. Playing Games with Cultural Heritage: A Comparative
Case Study Analysis. Games and Culture 6, no. 373 (2011): 376. Accessed March 4, 2013. http://gac.
Bebergal, Peter. How D&D Taught Me to Use the Library. Wizards of the Coast.
Berlinger, Yehuda. 2012 Worldwide Game Industry Survey: Covering Non sports, Non video Games. Purple Pawn,
March 7, 2013.
Bloomingdale Public Library. Teen Game Night, Whats Happening for Teens? Accessed February 21,
Board Games Up 6 percent in 2008 to $794 Million. ICv2, February, 16, 2009.
Brenner, Robin. ALA Play 2012 Costume theme: Doctor Who & Steampunk. ALA Connect. Accessed
March 4, 2013.
Eklund. Lina. New Research Changes the Image of the Typical Computer Gamer. Press Release. Stockholm
University, January 14, 2013.
Entertainment Software Association. Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry. 2012 Sales,
Demographic and Usage Data. Accessed December 11, 2012.
Farmer, Sandy. Gaming 2.0. American Libraries Magazine. (2013): 1. Accessed December 11, 2012. http://
Farrier, David. NZ Gamers Not Just Anti-Social Teenage Boys: Study. 3News, August 16, 2010. http://
www. 3news. co. nz/ NZ-gamers-not-just-anti-social-teenage-boys- study/ tabid/ 418/ articleID/ 170933/
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Gee, James Paul. Good Video Games and Good Learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), (2005): 34. Accessed
December 5, 2012.
60 Games in Libraries

Global Game Jam. Global Game Jam | January 2527, 2013. Accessed January 17, 2013. http://globalgame
Gray, Leila. Gamers Succeed Where Scientists Fail. UW Today, September 19, 2011. http://www.washington.
How Will We Preserve Virtual Worlds? Preserving Virtual Worlds: An NDIIPP-Partner Project Led by
UIUC in Partnership with Maryland, RIT, Stanford and the Library of Congress. Accessed March 4, 2013.
I Love International Games Day 2012 Wrap-up: So Much Awesomeness. Accessed on February
22, 2013.
Johnson, Steven. Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Todays Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter.
New York: Riverhead Books, 2005.
Jonathon Jones. Sorry MoMA, Video Games Are Not Art. Jonathan Jones on Art Blog. The Guardian,
November 30, 2012.
Kane, Danielle, Catherine Soehner, and Wei We. Building a Collection of Video Games in Support of a
Newly Created Degree Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Science & Technolog y Libraries
27, no. 4 (2007): 8384. Accessed February 12, 2013. doi:10.1300/J122v27n04_06.
Kelly, Ramona. The Center for American History at UT Austin Announces New Video game Archive.
Briscoe Center for American History. Press Release. University of Texas, April 19, 2007. Accessed March
4, 2013.
Kirriemuir, John. The Librarian as Video Game Player. New Review Of Information Networking 12 (2006):
61. Accessed December 5, 2012. doi: 10.1080/13614570701198262.
Krom, Cynthia L. Using Farmville in an Introductory Managerial Accounting Course to Engage Students,
Enhance Comprehension, and Develop Social Networking Skills. Journal of Management Education 36,
no. 6, (2012): 849. Accessed March 4, 2013. doi: 10.1177/1052562912459029.
Laskowski, Mary, and David Ward. Building the Next Generation of Video Game Collections in Academic
Libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 35, no.3 (2010): 269273. Accessed February 12, 2013.
Levine, Jenny. Libraries Got Game During International Games Day @ Your Library. Hufngton Post,
November 2, 2012. Accessed December 12, 2012.
got-game-during_b_2066268. html.
Lee, Jin Ha, Joseph T. Tennis, and Rachel Ivy Clarke. Domain Analysis for a Video Game Metadata Schema:
Issues and Challenges. Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries: Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 7489
(2012). Accessed March 4, 2013. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-33290-6_30.
Libby, Jeffrey S. The Best Games in Life are Free?: Video Game Emulation in a Copyrighted World. Suffolk
University Law Review 36 (2003): 843. Accessed March 4, 2013.
lnacademic/?verb=sr&csi=139120&sr=TITLEpercent28The+best+games+in+life+are+freepercent3F+ Video
game+emulation+in+a+copyrighted+world percent29+and+date+is+2003.
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Maeda, John. Video games Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art. Opinion, Voices from the Field,
Wired, December 4, 2012.
Mayer, Brian. Games and the 21st-century Standards An Ideal Partnership. Knowledge Quest 40, no. 1:
4651 (2011): 48. Accessed February 27, 2013.
Mayer, Brian, and Christopher Harris. Libraries Got Game Aligned Learning through Modern Board Games.
Chicago: American Library Association, 2010. Accessed February 12, 2013.
McDonough, Jerome P., Robert Olendorf, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, Doug Reside, Rachel Don-
ahue, Andrew Phelps, Christopher Egert, Henry Lowood, and Susan Rojo, Preservation of a Virtual World
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Nicholson, Scott. Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages. Medford, NJ:
Information Today, Inc., 2010. Accessed December 11, 2012,
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58, no. 3 (2009): para. 2. Accessed December 11, 2012. doi: 10.1108/00242530910942054.
Nicholson, Scott. The Role of Gaming in Libraries: Taking the Pulse, (2007): 2. Accessed February 12,
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Wizards of the West Coast. Afternoon Adventure with D&D. Accessed March 4, 2013. http://www.wizards.
Gamication in Libraries

Recently, gamication has become a popular topic of conversation across many elds.
Though the term has only emerged over the last several years, the basic concept has been
around for much longer. From airline frequent yer miles to traditional library summer
reading programs, points and rewards have been used as motivators since long before the
term gamication was coined. But the current interest in this topic is not merely based on
a catchy new name. The increased prevalence of internet connectivity, particularly through
the exploding popularity of mobile devices, and new research suggesting that there are real
benets to be gained from gamication have also contributed to its newfound popularity.
While much of the initial development in this eld has come from business enterprises,
such as Foursquare and Nike, gamication is also gaining ground in other elds. The 2013
Horizon Report Higher Education Edition highlighted games and gamication as one of
six technologies to watch in education, estimating that they would achieve mainstream
adoption in higher education within the next two to three years.1 Some institutions are
already well ahead of this trend. The Rochester Institute of Technology instituted Just Press
Play starting in the fall of 2011 to gamify the students undergraduate experience in their
School of Interactive Games & Media.2 Similarly, Quest to Learn is a New York City public
school for grades 6 through 12 that has been integrating games and game mechanics through-
out their curriculum since 2009.3 While these are some of the more ambitious examples of
gamication in action, many other educators and institutions are integrating game mechanics
into discrete projects and programs, making the topic an increasingly important one for
educators at all levels.
This chapter provides an introduction to gamication with a focus on how it relates
to libraries. The rst section will dene the concept and explain both the advantages and
disadvantages that accompany gamication. The second section offers several examples of
gamication in the eld of library and information science. These descriptions are meant
to inspire and guide those that are considering introducing gamication to their own insti-
tutions. Finally, the conclusion will offer some tips for those who are considering developing
their own gamied programs.

Dening Gamication
Though the underlying concept of incorporating game mechanics into a range of activ-
ities is not a new one, the word gamication is a relatively recent construct. The rst known
use of the term was in 2008 and it was not widely used until late in 2010.4 As gamication
has gained popularity, many potential denitions have emerged. Perhaps the most common

Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 63

is the use of game design elements in a non-game context.5 This denition is broad enough
to cover many styles of gamication from commercial uses of game mechanics to educational
ones. But because it is broadly drawn to encompass many examples of the phenomenon, it
is also vague and while it may allow scholars to determine whether a specic service or cre-
ation amounts to gamication, it does little to inform or guide those looking to use these
techniques. And, in fact, the paper that proposed it spent several pages elaborating on each
of the concepts included in this brief denition. For this reason, a more detailed denition
proposed by Karl M. Kapp is preferable, particularly for those hoping to use gamication
in an educational setting. According to Kapp, Gamication is using game-based mechanics,
aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and
solve problems.6 The breadth of this description of gamication hints at all of the possible
approaches that can be taken to gamication, ranging from the inclusion of elements taken
directly from games, such as leaderboards, points, achievements and similar components,
to more generally taking inspiration from the philosophies at work in successful games.
Additionally, this denition goes beyond the base features of gamication to include the
underlying goals that have lead to the adoption of gamication, namely to engage, motivate,
promote and solve. Focusing on these objectives as much as on the selection of game elements
is important in order to develop a meaningful use of gamication that achieves the stated
Critiques of gamication often say that in many cases gamication amounts to little
more than implementing points, badges and leaderboards (PBLs), but this indictment is far
from the full story. The sky is the limit for the types of game mechanics that a creative
designer can incorporate into a gamied system. Even if PBLs are used in a game, they can
nevertheless be meaningful if employed in a targeted manner, particularly when combined
with other elements. As Kapp puts it: Dont think of gamication as only the use of badges,
rewards and points; instead, think of the engaging elements of why people play games
its not just for the points [its] for the sense of engagement, immediate feedback, feeling
of accomplishment, and success of striving against a challenge and overcoming it.7
Beyond the actual game elements, this statement also hints at the fact that gamication
should be focused rst and foremost on its goals. Rather than selecting PBLs or other game
elements and then nding a way to use them to increase engagement, the best examples of
gamication will start with clear goals, such as specic outcomes or increased engagement
in specic activities, and only then will decide which game mechanics are best suited to
achieving these objectives.

The Rewards of Gamication

While this denition explains what gamication is, the question remains of why it has
grown so popular over such a short period of time. Undoubtedly part of the reason for this
growth is the prevalence of internet connectivity and the emergence of vendors that offer
off-the-shelf options for companies interested in gamifying their websites,8 which have com-
bined to make it possible, particularly for commercial entities, to quickly and easily incor-
porate gamication into their activities. But, gamications popularity is based on more
than just its ease of implementation. Some of this comes from players physical response to
games. Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter note in their book on the topic that [s]tudy after
study has shown that games activate the brains dopamine system, which is associated with
64 Games in Libraries

pleasure. Neuroscientists have also found intriguing parallels between the brains response
to games and the process of inquiry. As renowned game designer Raph Koster writes: With
games, learning is a drug.9 This response can be replicated with successful gamication
and can help to not only make the process pleasurable but also to keep players coming back
for more.
This is particularly true for activities that players may be initially reticent to undertake.
As will be discussed in more depth in the next section, some critics argue that the extrinsic
motivation associated with gamication can be detrimental to the inherent intrinsic moti-
vation an individual has for a task. However, this is mostly true for tasks for which the
individual already has intrinsic motivation and, as Kapp notes, [w]hen a task is seen as ini-
tially having low value, extrinsic motivators do help learners get started.10 Thus, while
gamication is not suitable for every situation and activity, this illustrates that there is a
place for gamication with respect to certain types of activities that may have a low perceived
value even if their actual value is much higher than an individual may actually realize.
Gamication and games can also be excellent educational devices because of the imme-
diate feedback they can provide. Regardless of the type of reward provided, players know
fairly quickly whether they have succeeded. Advancing to the next level, receiving a badge,
earning more points, moving up on the leaderboard, all of these tell the player that they have
succeeded. And the opposite is also true; if a player does not meet the requirements of the
game, the player immediately knows that this is the case and can try again. This type of feed-
back can be very valuable as an instructional tool. Again Kapps review of the relevant studies
is instructive here, allowing him to conclude that receiving feedback at the time of an activity
can have educational advantages.11 In a game context, all feedback, even negative feedback, is
valuable in a way that may not be apparent in other contexts. Failure can be made less intim-
idating than it often is in real life, which in turn can allow it to have positive outcomes such
as encourage[ing] exploration, curiosity, and discovery-based learning.12 As game expert
Jane McGonigal argues, the right kind of failure feedback is a reward. It makes us more
engaged and more optimistic about our odds of success. If we fail, and we can try again,
then we still have a mission.13 While McGonigal is referring here to games rather than gami-
cation, a system that is carefully crafted to apply gamication in a way that incorporates this
aspect of games can also achieve this constructive and engaging approach to failure.
Gamied systems can also have the exibility to permit players to choose their own
approach to the game. This can be illustrated with the example of badges in any number of
games. Often it would be almost impossible for players to earn every available badge and few,
if any, players try to do so. Instead, players identify the badges that are relevant to them or t
with their interests and pursue those. The same is equally true of many games that rely more
heavily on points; often there are many ways to earn those points and players can pick and
choose amongst the various methods to nd those that are of most interest to them. This ex-
ibility and the element of individual choice is key to making the experience meaningful for
a range of participants and enriching participants experience with the system. As Scott Nichol-
son, director of the Because Play Matters game lab at the School of Information Studies at
Syracuse University, New York argues, [m]eaningful gamication focuses on introducing ele-
ments of play instead of elements of scoring. The same activities will not be meaningful to
all users, so designers need to provide a variety of game-based activities to appeal to different
users or a customizable gamication system where users can create their own activities.14
Ideally, gamied systems that achieve this balance of elements can help players to
achieve ow. A concept dened and popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ow is the
Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 65

state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the
experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake
of doing it.15 McGonigal discusses this concept extensively in relation to games, noting
that Csikszentmihalyis research showed that ow was most reliably and most efciently
produced by the specic combination of self-chosen goals, personally optimized obstacles,
and continuous feedback that make up the essential structure of gameplay.16 While she
focuses primarily on how ow can be achieved through fully featured games, these key ele-
ments are the same ones that can make a gamied system successful. This overlap is hardly
surprising and it highlights the ultimate goal towards which gamication can aspire, namely
helping participants to achieve ow, which will, in turn ensure that they have intrinsic moti-
vation for continuing to engage with the system.

Potential Problems
For all of those who extol the virtues of well-designed gamication, there are also those
who believe that gamication, particularly poorly designed gamication, does more harm
than good. And, these detractors are not merely being negative; research has supported the
belief that gamication can have unintended consequences in certain situations. In their
2001 meta-analysis of data from 128 separate experiments, Edward L. Deci, Richard Koest-
ner, and Richard M. Ryan found that expected tangible awards did signicantly and sub-
stantially undermine intrinsic motivation, and this effect was quite robust.17 While this is
an important nding and one on which those implementing gamication must certainly
focus, the authors appear to suggest that many of the features of well-designed gamication
projects are exactly the type of activities that will help participants to become intrinsically
motivated. They noted that the results indicate that, rather than focusing on rewards for
motivating students learning, it is important to focus more on how to facilitate intrinsic
motivation, for example, by beginning from the students perspective to develop more inter-
esting activities, to provide more choice, and to ensure that tasks are optimally challenging.18
Because customization and challenge have already been identied as key elements of suc-
cessful gamication, it seems as though high quality examples of gamication may actually
increase players intrinsic motivation based on these ndings. Jane McGonigal provides
another defense against the accusation that extrinsic motivation decreases intrinsic motivation
by arguing that game points and achievements dont have extrinsic value yet so as long
as the main prize is glory, bragging rights, and personal ero, the danger of devaluing a
pleasurable experience with game feedback is relatively low.19
Beyond the risk that gamication may harm intrinsic motivation, many have also
argued that gamication is little more than pointsication. Writing on this topic, Margaret
Robertson notes that gamication isnt gamication at all. What were currently terming
gamication is in fact the process of taking the thing that is least essential to games and rep-
resenting it as the core of the experience.20 Ian Bogost takes this argument a step further
coining the term exploitationware because of the way that many of those implementing
gamication, mostly from the commercial sector, use gamication, often specically PBLs,
in a way that exploits and abuses the participants.21 These are valid complaints about many
of the existing examples of gamication. Frequently, companies think that merely adding
points or badges to their web presence will automatically make it more engaging and, there-
fore, protable. But, these concerns are primarily aimed at this period of unthinking and
66 Games in Libraries

widespread application of PBLs. The critics are concerned because those that claim to gamify
are not actually meaningfully considering the full spectrum of available game mechanics.
While this complaint likely also applies to some examples of gamication in libraries, it is
also the case that it is possible to avoid some of these concerns by taking the time to learn
how games work and to implement elements that will actually achieve the goals that they
have set for their use of gamication.
Another important concern when considering gamication is how the system impacts
privacy. Gamication systems often collect a signicant amount of data about how players
interact with the system to award points and track achievements as well as to monitor usage
of the system. In fact, Gabe Zichermann, the author of Gamication by Design, argues that:
No matter what your preconception of points may be, they are an absolute requirement
for all gamied systems. As the designer, it is imperative that you value and track every
move your players make even if those scores are only visible to you in your management
console and not to them. In this way, you can see how your players are interacting with
your system, design for outcomes, and make appropriate adjustments.22
Some may argue that this is an extreme approach, and in fact, Zichermann is one of
the authors that Bogost has criticized in his writing about the exploitationware concept,23
but it does indicate the amount of data that is being collected by many gamication systems.
And, with this information come privacy concerns. Keeping patron data private is an impor-
tant concern to many librarians and one that they are accustomed to considering when
making policy changes. Implementing gamication should be no different than implement-
ing any other program that involves patron data. It is important to consider privacy pro-
tections when developing any system that will collect personal information.
All of these potential problems with gamication are seen in many existing gamied
systems. While they are avoidable, too often the creators of gamied systems fail to ade-
quately consider such issues when developing their system. Understanding and considering
these critiques of gamication is an important part of evaluating whether gamication is
right for a specic institution and designing a system that will achieve the programs goals.
Anyone contemplating the use of gamication should be sure to structure their programs
to address these potential issues.

Case Studies
Many libraries are already experimenting with incorporating game elements into their
programs. These efforts can range from gamifying one discreet aspect of the librarys activities
or services to gamifying the entire library experience to improving librarian professional
development opportunities with the addition of game mechanics, but regardless of the
approach taken, all of the cases described in this section share an openness to experimentation
and a desire to make the target activities more engaging with carefully targeted game ele-
ments. While bringing gamication into libraries may initially seem daunting, these examples
show that it is not only an achievable goal, but also well worth the effort.

Connect Your Summer

At Canton Public Library (CPL) in Canton, Michigan, gamication proved to be the
ideal tool to revitalize a traditional summer reading program that wasnt generating the
Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 67

desired positive patron interactions and overall engagement. Faced with signicant budget
cuts and reduced stafng levels, the librarys staff realized they needed to nd a way to
decrease the summer reading program strain on staff while simultaneously increasing engage-
ment. Introduced in 2011, Connect Your Summer24 proved to be the solution to both of
these problems. Unlike the previous summer reading program, which followed a more tra-
ditional model with participants coming to the library to receive stamps for books read,
Connect Your Summer gamied the process by allowing participants to earn online badges
for a whole host of activities including reading, attending library or community events, or
any number of other relevant participant-developed activities.25 According to Laurie Golden,
Marketing and Communications Manager at CPL, one key advantage of the program was
that it had the exibility to allow participants to choose activities that resonated with them
and customize their program.26 Connect Your Summer has far fewer restrictions than a tra-
ditional summer reading program. There are no age restrictions, no obligation to participate
in any particular type of activity (including reading) and no requirement that participants
be physically located in any particular place. This opened the program to a whole new audi-
ence. Families participated together, some choosing to participate as a group and even those
who traveled for the summer were able to be active participants.27 As Golden noted in an
interview with American Libraries, One grandmother in the area has seven grandkids in
different states. They signed up together and played online.28
The game mechanics themselves are fairly simple. After creating an account, partici-
pants are presented with information on the available badges and can decide which to earn
(the rst year there were 10, but some badges were revised and the list was increased to 12
for the second year). In addition to these advertised badges, the program included surprise
badges for those who completed activities above and beyond those that were explicitly
included in the game,29 such as commenting on the blog or asking support questions.30
Earning each badge is as simple as completing one or more of the available activities and
clicking a button verifying its completion. Badges are displayed online, either publicly or
privately, and a public leaderboard ranks participants by number of badges earned. To add
an additional social component, participants have the option of sharing a description of
their activities on the Connect Your Summer website. During the rst year of the program,
participants could only earn each badge once, but in 2012, participants could earn each
badge multiple times, which opened the program up to greater participation and made the
process more exible.
After two years, the numbers show the programs success. During its rst year, players
earned 2,871 badges and shared how they earned an elite 1,337 of them on the librarys
blog.31 In the second year, over 1,400 participants ended up on the public leaderboard,
with the top participant earning over 1,000 badges.32 While some cheating has been observed
and participants get blocked for a short time if they earn too many badges in any given day,
there was an intentional decision to have as few rules as possible, further contributing to
the programs freedom.33
Though the game mechanics are simple, CPL has put considerable effort into devel-
oping and improving the program. During the initial development stages, a fairly small
committee of library staff worked on the project with the developer rapidly building the
website using a variety of open source software including Drupal and specically the User
Badges module.34 Following the rst year of the program, CPL surveyed both participants
and staff.35 Using this information in connection with the usage data from the program,
they were able to revise it for the second year to make it more enjoyable for everyone.36
68 Games in Libraries

This meant revising some badges, introducing prizes into the program and revising the pri-
vacy policy to address confusion.37 At the same time, they also addressed the fact that many
of the staff did not feel engaged with the program.38 To solve this last problem, the program
was revamped in its second year to create a committee for each badge. Every employee of
the library was assigned to a committee, which was responsible for activities relating to that
particular badge, including promotion.39 While the second year was even more successful
than the rst, they continue to look at the data and make revisions as they look towards its
2013 iteration.
Overall, the program has been a very successful one. Based on CPLs experience,
Goldens advice to other librarians considering this approach is to denitely do it but also
that they should offer traditional paper-based options for those who prefer them.40 While
requiring a commitment from the staff and the skills of a web developer, Connect Your
Summer has demonstrated that gamication can be used to reinvent summer reading for a
whole new audience.

Summer Game
At the same time that Connect Your Summer was under development, the Ann Arbor
District Library (AADL) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was also gamifying their summer reading
program. With their existing program, they found that they were encountering exactly the
types of problems that critics of gamication predict; children who were enrolled in the
summer reading program would read the number of books required by the program and
then stop, even if they had previously been avid readers.41 Moreover, library staff spent more
time administering the program than having productive interactions with patrons.42 The
new program, called Summer Game, was designed as a framework to incentivize library
patrons to have fun using their library all summer.43 To achieve this goal, AADL took an
approach similar to that taken by CPL. They opened the program up to include all ages
and to include activities that could be done as a group. While they also continue to offer a
paper version of the summer reading program for those who prefer it, the new program is
conducted online with a separate option available for those who prefer to play via text mes-
sage.44 Activities that are eligible for points range from attending an event, to tagging, rating
or reviewing items in the catalog, to commenting on a blog post.45 Players can also earn
badges for specic activities, such as nding the portable energy meters that the library has
available for patrons46 or attending specic events at the library.47 Originally, badges were
not intended to play an important role in the game, but they proved to be so popular that
additional badges have been created, including some that were contributed by library patrons
who enjoyed the game so much that they wanted to become involved in its development.48
This approach to badges exemplies the overall method that the team has taken towards
developing the game. Throughout both summers that Summer Game has been offered,
AADL has collected data about every aspect of the players interactions with the game and
has used this information to continue to rene the gameplay. While the initial development
of the game took only four months, Eli Neiburger, AADLs Associate Director of IT and
Production, notes that the game period itself, the 10 weeks between the last day of school
and the rst day of school, is the most intense development period for the game during
both years weve run so far.49 This continual revision and monitoring allows AADLs team
to respond to feedback as they receive it in many instances and, where that is not possible,
to make changes for the next time that Summer Game is offered. For example, in 2012,
Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 69

Summer Game debuted the Secret Summer Game Shop, which included special items that
were only available to players who found the shop in the catalog each Friday from July 27th
to August 31st and had earned enough Secret Shop Tokens and Summer Game Points to
pay for the items.50 But, the team found that a small subset of players was able to monopolize
all of these items, leading them to discontinue that feature in the future.51
This consistent effort to improve the game has paid off for AADL. The rst year of
Summer Game attracted more participants than the previous years summer reading program
had and the second year of Summer Game built on this initial success by attracting even
more participants. As Neiburger put it, [t]he program continues to exceed our goals after
two seasons. More players played, more engagement, more content, more event attendees,
more excitement, more love for the library.52 It has also proven to be a valuable marketing
tool for the library, getting participants excited about the library again and subtly teaching
them about services they may not have known existed. It has increased visits to the librarys
website not only during the game but on an ongoing basis and has spawned two additional
games. One, the Points-O-Matic Click-O-Tron,53 offers points for working within the
librarys catalog by picking the more helpful of two user reviews of a book (many of which
were generated during the summer game), tagging good images, performing optical character
recognition correction, and other tasks.54 The other is a more direct outgrowth of Summer
Game and offers activities similar to those found in the summer throughout the rest of the
year. During the rst year that it was offered, this game was called Treasure Quest and
focused on activities related to encryption and in its second year, it was called Streets Quest
and focused on having participants interact with local historical markers.55 These markers
were part of the Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit and activities in the game
required participants to interact with the online exhibit, nd historical materials related to
those markers online, and visit various historical markers around town.56 These games keep
patrons engaged with the library throughout the year and, in the case of the Points-O-
Matic Click-O-Tron, incentivize patrons to make contributions to the library.
AADL has clearly found a way to make gamication resonate with their patrons and
to use it to increase library usage, promote specic services, teach digital literacy and add
joy to library interactions. Their program illustrates the importance of responding to the
feedback received from participants to achieve the full potential of such a program. Perhaps
even more importantly, it demonstrates the importance of one of their central tenants and
the advice that Neiburger offers to other libraries that are considering gamication, Fun

Primary Source Corps

Academic libraries share the need to increase patron engagement, but have a very dif-
ferent mission than public libraries. Despite these differences, gamication provides inter-
esting opportunities for academic libraries as well. Successful integration of gamication
into an academic library often means focusing on how gamication can support the specic
educational and engagement goals of the institution. One example of how a library can use
gamication to engage students while simultaneously achieving other educational goals is
the University of Colorado Boulders Primary Source Corps. Created with money from an
Innovative Seed Grant from the Universitys Ofce for the Vice Chancellor of Research, the
game was based on the dual goals of (1) improve[ing] ndability and creat[ing] context for
our World War I Collection Online; and (2) educat[ing] students about how crowdsourced
70 Games in Libraries

information resources like Wikipedia and Wikisource, a sister project concentrating on pri-
mary sources, are created.58 Through the game players work directly with both primary
source documents and the Wikisource interface in a way that is simultaneously entertaining
and educational.
Primary Source Corps challenges players to engage with primary source documents in
a variety of ways to earn points. To start, users are tasked with adding primary source doc-
uments from a specied digital collection to Wikisource,59 which is a digital library available
for free texts. Once a document has been uploaded to Wikisource, players can earn additional
points for improving the documents ndability and to give more information about the
document through activities including correcting OCR text, adding context or categorization
to the document or adding links from Wikipedia.60 The name of the game comes from the
fact that it is themed around the Army Corps of Engineers, a theme that also contributes
to some of the gameplay elements, such as the selection of missions, the medals that players
unlock for various achievements, and the practice of referring to types of tasks within the
game as specialties. Players with the most points top the games Leader Board, which
also displays any medals a player may have earned next to their username.61 The game is
designed to take advantage of the fact that both Wikisource and Wikipedia entries are rou-
tinely reviewed with the rules clearly stating that: If a players contributions are deleted
from Wikisource or Wikipedia, he will lose the points initially gained from that mission.62
This ensures that players abide by both the rules and the spirit of the game while also guar-
anteeing that the end result is high-quality information that will make the primary sources
more ndable and usable.

Primary Source Corps logo (image courtesy University of Colorado Boulder).

Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 71

Though the librarians at the University of Colorado Boulder conducted the initial
research to determine whether gamication was well suited to achieving their goals for the
project, they turned to outside experts for help in developing the game mechanics and nal
product.63 With their grant funds, they ultimately hired a consultant with expertise in
gamication to design the mechanics of the game and also a part-time student programmer
to build a prototype based on the specications, a process that took approximately nine
months.64 Once this prototype was operational, [a] further two months was required for
a team of game usability experts to undertake a heuristic evaluation and a professional web
programmer to make as many of the recommended revisions to the game as possible with
the remaining grant funds.65 The nal product shows many of the hallmarks of a well-
designed gamication project, including offering players multiple types of activities to allow
them to choose those that are most meaningful to them, a scoring mechanism and progress
bar that gives players immediate feedback on their activities, a leaderboard to facilitate com-
petition and clear rules combined with a mechanism for evaluating contributions to encour-
age high-quality work.
Primary Source Corps is currently open to participants but remains under review with
plans already in place to modify the system in response to upcoming changes to the Medi-
aWiki platform.66 The librarians responsible for creating the game, Holley Long and Thea
Lindquist, note that this dependence on a third-party platform led to some additional com-
plications as they designed the game. Their initial design for the game required users to add
citations to primary materials to existing Wikipedia entries. However, once they discovered
that citations to primary sources are discouraged by Wikipedia and are often deleted, they
modied their game to accommodate the editorial guidelines of the Wikipedia and Wik-
isource communities and solicited comments on their project through Wikimedia open
forums before it was deployed.67 Their advice to other libraries is if you plan to incorporate
an outside platform into your gamication design, get in touch with the platforms stake-
holders as soon as possible and do not assume they will be as excited by your use of it as
you are!68 Despite these initial setbacks, Primary Source Corps illustrates how a successful
gamication project can be integrated into a community beyond the patrons of the institution
that is creating it and also how library staff can collaborate with outside experts to realize
their goals through the targeted use of gamication principles.

While the previous examples demonstrate that it is possible to successfully gamify
specic library activities, it is also possible to gamify patrons entire library experience.
LibraryGame,69 from the UK company Running in the Halls Limited, offers just such an
experience and is available in versions customized for both academic and public libraries.
Originally created with the goal of enhancing the discovery interface and injecting a bit
of playfulness and microsocial interaction into otherwise dry solitary experiences,70 it is
designed to reward users for a variety of activities from checking out books to using the
library at specic times to even asking reference questions made possible by connecting the
game to the library management system as well as the librarys turnstiles or self check-out
machines if desired.71
In use since November of 2011 at the University of Hudderseld in West Yorkshire,
England, the initial prototype of Lemontree, the academic version of LibraryGame, allows
patrons to progress through the game by earning points for using the library. As players
72 Games in Libraries

Photograph of a Lemontree user account (image courtesy LibraryGame).

accrue points and progress through the game, their Lemontree grows and their library
card heats up as represented by changing icons on their account.72 Players can also earn
achievements for specic activities such as an early bird badge for coming to the library
early in the morning or one of several badges available for borrowing books in specic
subject areas. All of the points in the game are reected on a leaderboard and the game can
be connected to social media accounts such as Facebook to allow players to display achieve-
ments publicly on their proles. The leaderboard gives patrons an opportunity to compete
for top honors in several elds, including total points, number of library visits and achieve-
ments earned and, at the University of Hudderseld, Lemontree is also congured to facilitate
competition with other users within specic programs and between programs at the uni-
LibraryGame is designed to provide exibility with different features available as part
of the Orangetree platform for public libraries and the Lemontree platform for academic
libraries.74 Both platforms offer libraries the ability to add a social element to their catalog
by providing a mechanism for patron-generated ratings and reviews and awarding points
for such contributions.75 The system also provides libraries with useful statistics about how
patrons use both LibraryGame and the library more generally.76 But, LibraryGame also
acknowledges the different needs of academic and public libraries through specialized features
for each platform. Orangetree for public libraries integrates with the librarys existing out-
reach efforts on social media networks, offers tools for moderating patron-generated content,
and is focused on increasing engagement from those who rarely or never use the library.77
By contrast, Lemontree acknowledges the teaching goals of academic libraries by offering
tools to help students to manage their citations and bibliographies, conduct effective research,
and integrate course reading materials into the game.78 By identifying players by department,
Lemontree also enables libraries to collect data on the ways that different departments
interact with the library.79 These elements ensure that LibraryGame is carefully tailored to
the needs and interests of both the institution that is using it and the patrons who are par-
Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 73

ticipating in the game in a way that will help to make the game more engaging and ensure
that the experience amounts to more than just pointsication added to the library expe-
Lemontree has proved to be popular amongst patrons at the University of Hudderseld.
Within the rst three weeks, 120 users had signed up for the site despite minimal marketing
efforts and approximately half of those users opted to connect it to their Facebook account.80
Since that time, the number of users has grown to about 1,500 active users or approximately
6 percent of the universitys entire student population.81 Many patrons have offered positive
feedback about their Lemontree experience with multiple participants stating that it has
encouraged them to use the library more frequently.82 This success has garnered signicant
interest in LibraryGame amongst libraries around the world with over 90 libraries expressing
serious interest in implementing the system at their institutions.83
The creators of LibraryGame advise librarians considering gamication that [g]ami-
cation is not a universal remedy for libraries and really works best when its complementing
other activities, we dont believe it can x things if theyre already beyond repair or there is
low motivation to do something for the users and its just there for the glamour factor.84
But for libraries that have a clearly articulated goal that can be facilitated through gami-
cation, LibraryGame shows how such a system can be successfully integrated into a librarys

Level Up Book Club

Started by two school librarians, the Level Up Book Club85 serves as an excellent exam-
ple of how gamication can revitalize professional development for librarians and educators.
The book club was created when Jennifer LaGarde, now the Lead Media Specialist at New
Hanover County Schools in Wilmington, North Carolina and Educator on Loan at the
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and Matthew Winner, Library Media
Specialist at Longfellow Elementary in Columbia, Maryland, started discussing Jane McGo-
nigals Reality Is Broken. As their discussion developed, they realized that they could involve
others in the conversation by creating a virtual book club open to anyone interested in
learning more about how gamication and game-based learning can be used in educational
settings.86 From there, gamifying the book club experience was the next logical step. As
LaGarde put it, the more we talked about it, the more we decided it would be fun to put
some of what we were learning to work by gamifying the book club itself.87 They started
the group in May of 2012 and by the end of August of that year, it had grown to include
46 members across three continents.88 Not surprisingly, the rst book on the schedule was
Reality Is Broken, but over the course of the rst two Seasons of the club, the list grew to
a total of six books, including nonction books about video games and ctional books
about games and gamication.89
While the group does have periodic online discussions about the books being read,
many of the activities have moved far beyond typical book club fair. Challenges have
included sharing quotes from books the group reads,90 creating an online video explaining
the value of gamication (in one hour or less),91 and making a game around a common
school activity92 to name just a few. In addition to maintaining a leaderboard that tracks
participation across all of the groups activities, LaGarde and Winner have also offered fun
prizes for winning individual challenges, including a 53-inch inatable Oscar93 and a t-
shirt emblazoned with a picture of the winners avatar.94 The combination of the professional
74 Games in Libraries

Lemontree buttons and bonus code cards (image courtesy LibraryGame).

development rewards gained through the groups activities and these tangible rewards offers
a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators for participants and has helped to keep
participants engaged in the groups activities.
In the midst of all of this fun and games, the group has effected real change too. Group
members have collaborated to create publicly available collections of resources on gami-
cation in education and libraries95 and, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, participated
in a Games4Good campaign to raise money for charities aiding in the recovery process.96
These efforts have been rewarded not only with impressive levels of engagement by group
participants, but also with Edublog Awards nominations for Best Group Blog,97 Best New
Blog,98 and Best Edu Social Network,99 all within the rst seven months after the groups
creation. Learning more about gamication has also inspired the groups leaders to apply
these principles in their schools libraries. LaGarde integrated game mechanics into many
aspects of her librarys services while working at her previous job and used the principles
of gamication to collaborate with multiple teachers at her school.100 Winner is also in the
process of working with a colleague to develop a gamied library media curriculum that he
hopes to debut at his school in the near future.101
As the Level Up Book Club enters its next phase, it is moving from a model of challenges
created by Winner and LaGarde for the membership to Co-Op mode where members
will take responsibility for developing two challenges for the group over a single month.102
This new approach will give participants hands-on experience creating gamied activities
that they can then apply in their own libraries and classrooms. While these activities might
seem impressive and a bit intimidating, it is noteworthy that the entire book club has been
based on a combination of freely-available Web 2.0 technologies, including a blog, a Tumblr,
a Diigo group, a LiveBinder and frequent Twitter conversations.103 It serves as an excellent
example of how two motivated educators can gamify professional development and in the
process, create a powerful network of like-minded individuals.
Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 75

Gamication in Your Library

As these examples demonstrate, successfully gamifying a program can mean developing
an entire new web presence, hiring an outside programmer or simply using freely available
social media tools. In fact, there is no reason that a gamied program needs to have any
online or electronic component. Each program can and should be unique because it must
be tailored to achieve the goals set for it and for the patron population. However, the fol-
lowing steps are worth following when considering the development of a gamication pro-
Pay Attention to the Players When considering whether or how to implement
gamication at your library, the rst and most important consideration should be
the audience for the program. This audience may be all the patrons at your
library or a specic subset of the patrons, but it is important to dene the
audience before you begin to develop the elements of the project. Determining
your audience will also help you to decide whether gamication is the right
approach. If you realize while looking at your patron groups that there is no
clearly dened audience for the program, gamication may not be the right
Set Your Goals Similarly, it is key that the goals of the project be dened before
you start the design process. This may seem obvious, but it is easy to think that
you can wait to rene your approach until after you have selected your game
mechanics and created an initial model of the program. While this may
sometimes work, it is unlikely to generate the type of carefully tailored game that
will be most successful. It is important to make sure that you have narrowly
dened your goals so that you arent selecting generic game mechanics but are
instead targeting your efforts towards achieving specic goals.104
Always Improve It is easy to think that once you have launched a gamication
system, your work is done. However, it is imperative that the system continue to
grow and improve, as several of the examples above note. Rening the game after
it is in action and responding to comments from players will ensure that you keep
the system tted to your goals. Incorporating a mechanism for ongoing updates
will also ensure that if the program is not meeting your needs, it can be changed.
Finally, this approach will make it possible to respond to any players who nd a
way to work around the intended rules of the game.
Focus on Fun Among the libraries proled above, one of the recurring pieces of
advice was to focus on keeping the gamied system fun. At the end of the day,
even a system that seems on its surface to meet all of the requirements of an ideal
example of gamication will fail if you are not able to capture this element of fun.
Often people think that designing a gamied program is easy, for example by
adding points, badges, and a leaderboard to an existing program. But this type of
shallow gamication is unlikely to succeed if it is not fun.
Gamication may initially seem straightforward and easy to implement, particularly
with the recent proliferation of examples of gamication across a range of industries. How-
ever, it is important not to underestimate the complexities of designing an effective and
meaningful example of gamication. The information in this chapter provides an overview
of the issues that you may face in designing a gamied system, but those looking to start
76 Games in Libraries

the process of creating a customized program for their library should consider the scholarship
that has already been done on this topic and on game design more generally. Investing the
time needed to design a system that is adapted to the needs of your library will help you
to succeed in achieving the goals you set for your gamication project.

1. NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition, The New Media Consortium, February 2013,
2. Just Press Play, accessed March 10, 2013, Additional presentations and publication
on the program are available at
3. Quest to Learn, accessed March 10, 2013,
4. Sebastian Deterding, Dan Dixon, Rilla Khaled and Lennart Nacke, From Game Design Elements to
Gamefulness: Dening Gamication (paper presented at MindTrek 11, September 2830, 2011, Tampere,
5. Ibid.
6. Karl M. Kapp, The Gamication of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for
Training and Education (San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2012), 10.
7. Ibid., xxii.
8. Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter, For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business
(Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press, 2012), 77.
9. Werbach and Hunter, 31.
10. Kapp, The Gamication of Learning and Instruction, 96.
11. Ibid., 227.
12. Ibid., 48.
13. Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
(New York: The Penguin Press, 2011), 6768.
14. Scott Nicholson, A User-Centered Theoretical Framework for Meaningful Gamication (paper pre-
sented at Games + Learning + Society 8.0, Madison, Wisconsin, June 1315, 2012), accessed March 10, 2013,
http://scottnicholson. com/pubs/meaningfulframework. pdf.
15. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psycholog y of Optimal Experience (New York: HarperPerennial,
1991), 4.
16. McGonigal, Reality Is Broken, 36.
17. Edward L. Deci, Richard Koestner and Richard M. Ryan, Extrinsic Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation
in Education: Reconsidered Once Again, Review of Educational Research, 71 (2001), 15.
18. Ibid.
19. McGonigal, Reality Is Broken, 156.
20. Margaret Robertson, Cant Play, Wont Play, Hide & Seek: Inventing New Kinds of Play, October 6,
2010, accessed March 10, 2013,
21. Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games: Exploitationware, Gamasutra, May 3, 2011, accessed March 10, 2013, php.
22. Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham, Gamication By Design: Implementing Game Mechanics
in Web and Mobile Apps (Sebastopol, CA: OReilly Media, Inc., 2011), 36.
23. Bogost, Persuasive Games: Exploitationware,
24. Connect Your Library, accessed March 10, 2013,
25. Laurie Golden, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.
26. Ibid.
27. Ibid.
28. Greg Landgraf, Summer Reading Levels Up, American Libraries, November 3, 2011, http://ameri
29. Connections, Newsletter published by Canton Public Library, summer 2011,
30. Laurie Golden, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.
31. Greg Landgraf, Summer Reading Levels Up,
32. All-Time Badge Leaderboard, Connect Your Summer, accessed March 10, 2013, http://www.cantonpl.
Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 77

33. Laurie Golden, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.

34. Brad Czerniak, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012. More information on the software used,
including links, can be found on the Connect Your Summer website (
35. Laurie Golden, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.
36. Ibid.
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid.
39. Ibid.
40. Ibid.
41. Greg Landgraf, Summer Reading Levels Up,
42. Ibid.
43. Eli Neiburger, Response to Questions Regarding Summer Game, emailed questionnaire, December
11, 2012.
44. Get Started, AADL Summer Game, accessed March 10, 2013,
45. Earn Points, AADL Summer Game, accessed March 10, 2013,
46. Eli Neiburger, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.
47. A full list of badges that were offered in 2012 can be found on the Summer Game website. Its the
BADGE LIST! AADL Summer Game, accessed March 10, 2013,
48. Eli Neiburger, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.
49. Eli Neiburger, Response to Questions Regarding Summer Game, emailed questionnaire, December
11, 2012.
50. Secret Shop Details, Button Sets restocked, and OH YEAH BADGE DROP!, AADL Summer Game,
accessed March 10, 2013,
51. Eli Neiburger, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.
52. Eli Neiburger, Response to Questions Regarding Summer Game, emailed questionnaire, December
11, 2012.
53. Introducing: the POINTS-O-MATIC CLICK-O-TRON! AADL Summer Game, accessed March
10, 2013,
54. Greg Landgraf, Summer Reading Levels Up,
55. Eli Neiburger, interview by Carli Spina, December 21, 2012.
56. As Promised: The Premiere of Streets Quest! AADL Summer Game, accessed March 10, 2013,
57. Ibid.
58. Holley Long and Thea Lindquist, Response to Questions Regarding Primary Source Corps, emailed
survey, December 10, 2012.
59. What is Primary Source Corps? Primary Source Corps, accessed March 10, 2013, http://libnet.colorado.
60. Ibid.
61. Leader Board, Primary Source Corps, accessed March 10, 2013,
62. How to Play, Primary Source Corps, accessed March 10, 2013,
source-corps/howtoplay. php.
63. Holley Long and Thea Lindquist, Response to Questions Regarding Primary Source Corps, emailed
questionnaire, December 10, 2012.
64. Ibid.
65. Ibid.
66. Ibid.
67. Ibid.
68. Ibid.
69. I have previously written about both LibraryGame and the Level Up Book Club in an article for AALL
Spectrum. Carli Spina, Gamication: Is It Right For Your Library? The Rewards, Risks, and Implications
of Gamication, AALL Spectrum 17 (2013).
70. Shay Moradi, Response to Questions Regarding LibraryGame, emailed questionnaire, December 11,
71. LibraryGame, accessed March 10, 2013, http://librarygame. co. uk/.
72. These mechanics are more fully explained on the website for the University of Hudderseld instance
of Lemontree. How does it all work? Lemontree, accessed March 10, 2013,
78 Games in Libraries

73. Leaderboards, LibraryGame, accessed March 10, 2013,

74. LibraryGame, http://librarygame. co. uk/.
75. Ibid.
76. Ibid.
77. Ibid.
78. Ibid.
79. Ibid.
80. LemonTree in Numbers! LibraryGame, December 6, 2011,
81. Shay Moradi, e-mail message to author, February 22, 2013.
82. Andrew Walsh, Lemontree and @librarygame: Turning Using the library into a game (presented at
In: Children in performative spaces, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 1112, 2012).
83. Shay Moradi, Response to Questions Regarding LibraryGame, emailed questionnaire, December
11, 2012.
84. Ibid.
85. Level Up Book Club, accessed March 10, 2013,
86. Matthew Winner, e-mail to author, January 10, 2013.
87. Jennifer LaGarde, e-mail to author, January 10, 2013.
88. Achievements, Level Up Book Club, accessed March 10, 2013,
achievements.html. I have participated in the groups activities.
89. The full list of books read during the rst two seasons, in the order they were read, is: Reality Is Broken
by Jane McGonigal, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee, Ill
Eat This Cricket for a Cricket Badge: A Gamication Novella by Darren Steele and Christine Chung, The
Gamication of Learning and Instruction by Karl M. Kapp, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Extra Lives:
Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell. Reading List, accessed March 10, 2013, http://levelupbc.blogspot.
90. See, for example, S2: Task 2: Kapp Quotes, Level Up Book Club, September 30, 2012, http://level
91. Task 11: Lights! Camera! Action! , Level Up Book Club, September 6, 2012, http://levelupbc.blogspot.
92. S2: Task 3: Design a Game, Level Up Book Club, October 14, 2012, http://levelupbc.blogspot.
93. And The Oscar Goes To, Level Up Book Club, September 16, 2012, http://levelupbc.blogspot.
94. And the Task 6 Avatar Winner is, Level Up Book Club, July 14, 2012, http://levelupbc.blogspot.
95. These resources can be found in the groups Live Binder (
?id=439108, accessed March 10, 2013) and the groups Diigo group (
up-book-club, accessed March 10, 2013).
96. Games4Good + Knowledge Quest = Week of EPIC WINS for #levelupbc, Level Up Book Club,
November 16, 2012, html.
97. Best Group Blog for Education 2012, The Edublog Awards, accessed March 10, 2013, http://edublog
98. Best New Education Blog 2012, The Edublog Awards, accessed March 10, 2013, http://edublogawards.
99. Best Social Network for Educators 2012, The Edublog Awards, accessed March 10, 2013, http://
100. Jennifer LaGarde, e-mail to author, January 10, 2013.
101. Matthew Winner, e-mail to author, January 10, 2013.
102. CO-OP mode, Level Up Book Club, February 9, 2013,
op-mode. html.
103. Jennifer LaGarde and Matthew C. Winner, Level Up Book Club, Knowledge Quest 41 (2012): 4849.
104. See for example, Kapp, The Gamication of Learning and Instruction, 166.

AADL Summer Game. Accessed February 19, 2013. http://play. aadl. org/.
Bogost, Ian. Persuasive Games: Exploitationware. Gamasutra, May 3, 2011.
Gamication in Libraries (Spina) 79

Canton Public Library. Connections. Last modied summer, 2011.

Connect Your Library. Accessed February 15, 2013.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psycholog y of Optimal Experience. New York: HarperPerennial, 1991.
Deci, Edward L., Richard Koestner and Richard M. Ryan. Extrinsic Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation in
Education: Reconsidered Once Again. Review of Educational Research, 71 (2001).
Deterding, Sebastian, Dan Dixon, Rilla Khaled and Lennart Nacke. From Game Design Elements to Game-
fulness: Dening Gamication. Paper presented at MindTrek 11, Tampere, Finland, September 2830,
2011, Tampere, Finland.
Just Press Play. Accessed February 20, 2012.
Kapp, Karl M. The Gamication of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training
and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2012.
LaGarde, Jennifer, and Matthew C. Winner. Level Up Book Club. Knowledge Quest 41 (2012): 4849.
Landgraf, Greg. Summer Reading Levels Up. American Libraries, November 3, 2011. http://americanlibraries
magazine. org/features/11032011/summer-reading-levels.
Lemontree. Accessed February 17, 2013.
Level Up Book Club. Accessed February 27, 2013.
LibraryGame. Accessed February 17, 2013. http://librarygame. co. uk/.
McGonigal, Jane. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New
York: The Penguin Press, 2011.
Nicholson, Scott. A User-Centered Theoretical Framework for Meaningful Gamication. Paper presented
at Games + Learning + Society 8.0, Madison, Wisconsin, June 1315, 2012. Accessed February 22, 2012.
http://scottnicholson. com/pubs/meaningfulframework. pdf.
NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. The New Media Consortium. February 2013. 6. http://
www.nmc. org/publications/2013-horizon-report-higher-ed.
Primary Source Corps. Accessed February 18, 2013. http://libnet. colorado. edu/primary-source-corps/.
Quest to Learn. Accessed February 20, 2013. http://q2l. org/.
Robertson, Margaret. Cant Play, Wont Play. Hide & Seek: Inventing New Kinds of Play. Last modied
October 6, 2010.
Spina, Carli. Gamication: Is It Right For Your Library? The Rewards, Risks, and Implication of Gami-
cation. AALL Spectrum 17 (2013).
Walsh, Andrew. Lemontree and @librarygame: Turning Using the Library into a Game. Presented at Children
in Performative Spaces, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 1112, 2012.
Werbach, Kevin, and Dan Hunter. For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business. Philadel-
phia: Wharton Digital Press, 2012.
Zichermann, Gabe, and Christopher Cunningham. Gamication By Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in
Web and Mobile Apps. Sebastopol, CA: OReilly Media, Inc., 2011.
Changing the Game: Using Badges to
Assess Information Literacy Instruction

By any number of metrics, higher education in the United States is broken. Increased
tuition costs, compromised labor systems, and bloated administrative budgets have collec-
tively undermined education in our colleges and universities.1 Despite evidence that todays
students are learning less than they have in previous generations, grade point averages
our predominant measure of achievement have never been higher than they are now. In
a recent study, Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healey collected data about grade ination
spanning the past seventy years. They report that 43 percent of all letter grades given during
that period were As, a gure that has increased 28 percent since 1960.2 Today, at least 73
percent of all grades at public schools are either As or Bs, which would suggest that
statistically-speaking, a C is no longer a representation of average work.3 Perhaps what is
most disturbing about grade ination is not that students are earning something they dont
deserve, but rather that they are spending thousands of dollars and discharging years of
their lives to pursue degrees that have been emptied of any real meaning. We have volumes
of statistical and anecdotal evidence to suggest that many students dont actually develop
critical thinking abilities during their time at college. A report by the National Assessment
of Adult Literacy suggests that fundamental literacy levels among college graduates have
declined precipitously. Today, as many as 20 percent of students who graduate from a four-
year institution have only basic quantitative literacy skills, meaning they are unable to esti-
mate if their car has enough gasoline to get to the next gas station or calculate the total cost
of ordering ofce supplies.4 Too often, our institutions are bound by a disengagement
compact, a feedback loop in which students evaluate professors favorably in exchange for
favorable grades in return.5 The problem is multifaceted; certainly professors need to stop
handing out easy grades, and due to the conict of interest between student and teacher,
colleges may need to stop handing out grades altogether.6
Nevertheless, letter grades are woven deeply into the fabric of college learning in the
United States and are part and parcel of faulty assessment models that have persisted for
decades. Academic libraries are situated alongside the crossroads of these fault-lines and are
tasked with the challenge of proving their worth, especially demonstrating the effectiveness
of the information literacy instruction they facilitate.7 However, measuring the impact of
information literacy instruction is notoriously difcult, especially when such instruction is
treated as secondary or tertiary to the regular learning that happens in a class. Additionally,
the bulk of teaching by academic librarians occurs apart from formal letter grade assessment,
which remains a powerful incentive for college students to do work. Maura A. Smale
describes the familiar dynamic:

Changing the Game (Battista) 81

[T]he librarian teaching students usually is not the students course professor and thus does
not have a preexisting relationship or rapport with them. Library instructors typically do not
assign grades to student work produced in information literacy sessions, and students may be
much more motivated to complete work that will be evaluated by their professors.8
Because work done during information literacy sessions is not graded, students may not
deem it important to demonstrate prociency or provide honest feedback about their learning
experience. To compound the matter, students are asked to evaluate information literacy
instruction sessions immediately after they conclude, often by lling out a form or survey;
therefore, they may lack the time to reect on the skills or research strategies they have
developed during a class session.
Game-based learning, especially in classes that measure progress by awarding badges,
offers some solutions to the situational challenges associated with information literacy
instruction.9 Digital badges, or representations of skills, literacies, competencies, and con-
cepts, have a twofold potential to encourage new opportunities for library instruction and
to improve the effectiveness of existing instruction sessions. Badges can, in turn, provide
libraries with an efcient way to measure the impact of their instructional programs on
information literacy learning outcomes. Thus far, the potential for gamication to guide
library instruction has been explored widely in the literature.10 However, even though these
articles and anthologies encompass a variety of ways that library instruction has incorporated
game-based learning principles, they do not focus on digital badges. In this chapter, I would
like to expand discussions of game-based instruction strategies for libraries and explore ways
that digital badges can catalyze information literacy learning. In particular, I believe that
badges can encourage student participation and yield effective, empirical measures to assess
the impact of library instruction. Badges are a exible system of metaphors that can be tied
to general or discipline-specic information literacy learning outcomes. Thus, they double
as a way for librarians to collaborate with teaching faculty when designing instruction pro-
grams. In what follows, I outline the reasons why many educators have adapted digital
badges, and I suggest several ways that librarians can develop badge systems and integrate
them into their teaching. Ultimately, the promise badges offer educators is that students
will learn more and recognize what they are learning more precisely than they do when
being evaluated by traditional grades.

Badges in Higher Education: A Situated Overview

The development of game-based pedagogy in higher education is a response to changes
in learning patterns among students of the digital age. According to Marc Prensky, these
changes have been so enormous that todays younger people have, in their intellectual style
and preferences, very different minds from their parents and, in fact, all preceding genera-
tions.11 Digital media and the concomitant technologies our students use each day have
resulted in epigenetic changes, even signicant neurological consequences or physiolog-
ical shifts that reconstitute the way todays students think and learn.12 Game-based learning
strategies are a reaction to these neurophysiological developments, and they promote envi-
ronments where students can take risks and learn from failure, both vital aspects of an edu-
cational process. Perhaps more importantly, pedagogical models that incorporate gaming
principles cultivate a sense of autonomy that is conducive to meaningful learning. Karl M.
Kapp links games in education to Self-Determination Theory, an approach that provides
82 Games in Libraries

freedom for students to determine the scope of their own education and represent their
achievements creatively.13 The shift from traditional pedagogies to game-based learning
allows students to grow through a process that is inherently fun, psychologically restorative,
and closely aligned with the patterns of digital interaction they experience in their daily
Although they are not games themselves, badges are an important element in game
design, for they simultaneously encourage and measure participation. Cathy Davidson, who
has proled the connection between human attention and learning, has been an evangelist
for open source digital badge systems, which she sees as a way to couple the productive ele-
ments of gaming with multimedia education.14 According to Davidson, the best kind of
badging systems recognize competencies, skills, training, collaborative abilities, character,
personal contribution, participatory energy, leadership and motivational skills, and other
so-called hard and soft individual and cooperative talents.15 In the fall of 2011, her inter-
disciplinary program at Duke University, the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology
Collaboratory (HASTAC) announced the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition, an
initiative co-sponsored by the Digital Media and Learning Competition and the MacArthur
Foundation.16 The program invited schools, colleges, agencies, and organizations to con-
tribute to, identify, recognize, measure, and account for new skills, competencies, knowledge,
and achievements for 21st century learners wherever and whenever learning takes place.17
Of the funded grant applications, the Mozilla Open Badges project has, I believe, the greatest
potential to institute a widespread, unied network of badges that would be recognized
inside and outside of the academy.18 Through a free Mozilla Firefox web extension called
Persona, which anyone can download and embed within the browser, the Open Badges
project offers an infrastructure for any person or organization to earn and display digital
badges.19 Individuals may also submit custom-designed badges, which recognize skills and
allow them to be framed in multiple contexts.20 While the Open Badges platform allows
educators to create a public community of learning, it also gives students a way to document
their accomplishments and market the skills they have learned to future employers.21
Movements to establish badge systems in higher education are motivated by dissatis-
faction with the way traditional assessment models reect accomplishments. Grades are an
inherently impoverished method of representing the skills, concepts, or platforms one could
learn in a class. In a typical college course, students encounter many discourses and engage
in a litany of projects, yet the sum of everything they do is condensed into a small continuum,
a scale that ranges from A-F. This scale, in turn, only encourages students to lose sight of
what they are learning and lobby professors for a letter theyd like to appear on their tran-
scripts. Davidson recognizes this vicious cycle and suggests that we will not eliminate
grade-grubbing until we change our current educational system.22 I believe that badges are
a tangible example of such change Davidson has in mind. Rather than expressing learning
outcomes in terms of a letter grade, badges explode the possibilities for progress in a course.
Since badges are often tied to specic competencies and skills, they help students realize
that learning is never a complete process, and it is certainly not a transaction that can be
quantied by a letter. They are metaphors that ask students to take ownership over what
they do encounter. Students recognize that there are limits to what one can learn in a class;
therefore, badges help them make choices about how they focus their efforts. As an alternative
to grades, badges help students emphasize the knowledge, skills, or literacies that are impor-
tant to them as well as others in their classroom community. Consequently, badges promote
accomplishment for reasons that are more related to intrinsic motivation than the desire to
Changing the Game (Battista) 83

seek external rewards or afrmation. A badge-driven game experience can work well when
instructors allow students to develop criteria for establishing and awarding individual
achievements. When the expectations for earning badges are articulated clearly, students
become hyper aware of the knowledge they acquire, and the process of learning can generate
a level of excitement that extends throughout a class.

Badges and Information Literacy Instruction

There are several reasons why badges are well-attuned to information literacy instruc-
tion, the rst being that the impact of information literacy instruction is difcult to quantify.
Megan Oakleaf documents this challenge in The Value of Academic Libraries, a report for
the ACRL. In it, she argues that [a]lthough librarians have long taught and assessed infor-
mation literacy, most of the published evidence of the impact of libraries on student learning
is sporadic, disconnected, and focused on limited case studies.23 Similarly, Derek Rodriguez
suggests that despite concerted efforts to articulate learning outcomes, libraries still lack
effective methods for demonstrating library contributions to student learning.24 Even after
facilitating multiple dispensations of library instruction, librarians and teaching faculty
often struggle to pinpoint the relationship between information literacy instruction and the
evidence students ultimately incorporate into their work. Perhaps this difculty is a conse-
quence of the fact that information itself is inherently complicated. Dave Cormier suggests
that information can be understood vis--vis the concept of a rhizome, a metaphor that has
been developed elsewhere by Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari.25 Cormier regards knowledge
to be a negotiation, a matrix of relationships where there is no center or authority but
instead endless connectivity and recursive patterns.26 The rhizome is an apt metaphor for
information literacy as well. Finding evidence and incorporating it into essays or other proj-
ects is a complex process that requires students to make many subtle decisions, learn from
mistakes, develop provisional search strategies, and appreciate ambiguity. Even though
information literacy is essentially the ability to negotiate this ever-proliferating vortex of
knowledge, it is a skill that is usually measured by polls, Likert scales, and multiple choice
questionnaires. These instruments are at least a little disingenuous because they condense
the skill of navigating the innite into a forum based on nite possibilities.
Given the indeterminate nature of information, badges are an effective way to encourage
student learning and provide a means of assessing information literacy learning outcomes.
Because they can be expansive, badge systems seem more congruent with information literacy
than simple assessment instruments like polls or multiple choice response forms. There is
no limit to the scope of badges within an individual system, and game designers can create
expansive environments that mirror the challenges of nding and evaluating information.
In fact, badge systems work best in a class when there are more achievements than any
student can feasibly earn in a semester. Yet within this expansiveness, badges afford students
a considerable amount of clarity about what they have learned. If the system is set up effec-
tively, the feedback students get when they earn an individual badge is instantaneous and
clearly-related to specic learning outcomes. By earning a badge, students demonstrate
prociency with a specic platform or thinking move, and they realize how their newly-
acquired knowledge ts within the larger rubric of information literacy.
Badges are also a way to build ongoing relationships with students and treat information
literacy learning as a holistic process, not as a fragmented sequence of one-shot instruction
84 Games in Libraries

sessions. They present new frameworks for learning in library instruction, where students
are motivated to develop research skills across their curriculum. I feel that this arrangement
works especially well in a small liberal arts college or high school setting, where a single
librarian may see the same students three-four times in different classes within the span of
an academic year. Badges can ameliorate the perceived redundancy of library instruction
by providing long-term goals for building research skills. Students can see each instruction
session as an opportunity to acquire more skills and build upon existing knowledge by earn-
ing more badges. Then, once badge systems are established, they double as a way for a
library program to measure the amount of students it reaches. As Shauna Masura explains,
by promoting the accumulation of badges within their instructional practices, librarians
can provide quantiable data to validate the skills that their services transfer to students.27
Through digital badge platforms, it is easy to calculate how many students earn badges or
how many badges have been earned in total, and this data can translate to evidence for the
learning that takes place through library instruction.

Badge Systems and Libraries: Applications

In order to introduce game-based learning principles into instruction, librarians should
use game elements, including badges, to help students recognize their acquisition of infor-
mation literacy learning outcomes. Badge systems, like all game-based learning pedagogies,
require a considerable amount of work to develop, and badge designers need to think about
narrative structure and visual appearance from the onset of the planning phase. As Kapp
writes, game-based learning is not solely made up of elements like badges, points and
rewards; rather, engagement, storytelling, visualization of characters, and problem solving
[are the] foundations upon which gamication needs to be built.28 Additionally, Kapp
points out, aesthetics matter, and the quality of badge design determines the degree to
which they can become conduits of skills and literacies.29 In other words, badges must
appear to be desirable or students will not want to pursue them. Any image editing software,
such as Adobe Photoshop or Google Picasa, can be used to make badges, or librarians can
use the tools available at Peer 2 Peer University Badgemaker to craft digital badges and asso-
ciate them with specic learning outcomes.30 Another exible design platform,,
allows users to upload images once they have been designed and turn them into digital
badges that are displayed throughout Mozillas Open Badges network.31
Game-based educators should also consider the logistics of administering digital badges
within a specic learning community. Fortunately, a growing assortment of digital tools is
available to help educators implement an instruction program that uses badges as the primary
mode of assessment. For example, learning management systems like Moodle or open-
source e portfolio platforms like Mahara can be used to create and award badges to students
who are enrolled in a class.32 Learning management systems are a particularly convenient
option for digital badges if they are already being used to facilitate instruction.33 Alternately,
instructors may choose to deliver a class or an information literacy program with Wordpress,
an accessible, open-source blogging platform.34 After installing a self-hosted instance of
Wordpress, course instructors can download the BuddyPress Achievements plug-in, which
offers the ability to upload digital badges, award them to individual blog users, and keep
track of each persons accomplishments via a leader-board.35 Administrators need only a
private domain or web space on a university server to host the content management system.
Changing the Game (Battista) 85

Wordpress and the plug-ins that enhance it are free and supported by a robust network of
Of the potential situations to implement digital badges, the most conventional is a
credit-bearing course. A librarian who teaches information literacy may use a system of
badges to evaluate student learning in lieu of (or in tandem with) conventional grades
assigned by the university registrar. For example, Curation Culture, a one-credit information
literacy seminar I teach, examines how social media and digital technologies have trans-
formed our lives and physiologically changed our brains.37 In this class, students are invited
to earn as many badges as they choose. There are at least 30 badges visible when the course
begins; others are unlocked as students reach various thresholds of participation throughout
the semester, and each of the badges correspond with the literacies, platforms, and achieve-
ments that are tied to the class learning objectives. Since the course takes as its theme infor-
mation literacy and social media, students who earn the Facebook badge, for instance, are
invited to explain how they create topically oriented lists of liked pages on Facebook
that are germane to their personal and professional interests.38 We discuss how list devel-
opment cultivates the literacies of curation evaluating the quality and relevance of
information and attention management, or the ability to manipulate social media plat-
forms and control the information we encounter each day. Students who earn the Facebook
badge by writing blog posts about their Facebook organization principles or agreeing to
show their accounts to the class and explain their logic of list-making. Every badge in Cura-
tion Culture has similar criteria, a list of skills students need to demonstrate in order to
earn an achievement. On the whole, the platform-related badges allow students to interpret
social media as a tool for organizing and evaluating information rather than merely as a
forum for personal entertainment. At the conclusion of a semester, students emerge not just
with a grade, but also with a digital prole of badges that calls attention to the skills they
have developed.
In most cases, students earn badges when they engage in metacognition, by writing or
engaging in class discussion. However, I should emphasize that badge systems do not resolve
the challenges of assessment completely. Evaluating students when they attempt to earn
badges can be as subjective as the task of assessing other kinds of projects, especially if one
sees education as a uid learning process. To counterbalance this conundrum, teachers
should create different genres of badges that can be awarded in distinct contexts. In Cura-
tion Culture, some badges are awarded automatically for participation in the course blog,
while others recognize the process of recursive learning, in which students return to a plat-
form or concept that they explored initially and demonstrate how they have expanded their
thinking or developed their knowledge. It can be difcult to determine whether or not the
work a student does is worthy of a badge. When in doubt, I err on the side of grace and
assume that awarding badges instills a sense of excitement in students and encourages them
to explore additional opportunities in the class.
Badges may also function independently from credit-bearing classes and can be imple-
mented within an ongoing series of library learning sessions. A library can maintain digital
portfolios with Mozilla Persona, chart progress in a campus learning management system,
or otherwise keep records for those who experience library instruction. One version of this
model is the Skillshares and Lib&Learn workshop series at the Claremont Colleges Library.
Char Booth, Instruction Services Manager and E-Learning Librarian at Claremont, orches-
trates a sequence of in-house training sessions for staff and faculty and tracks attendees
progress with a Frequent Offenders Card. After attending the requisite number of instruc-
86 Games in Libraries

tion sessions, workshop participants are eligible to redeem their cards and receive a gift cer-
ticate to a local bakery. The librarians at my own institution, the University of Montevallo,
have instituted a similar program. Each semester, we offer a Technology Instruction Work-
shop Series and feature badges as a reward for students who participate. Sessions on Twitter,
RSS, Zotero, and other platforms are open to students and faculty who would like to lean
how social media tools can be used to organize information. As a reward for participation,
we hand out physical badges to anyone who attends. Even though students are not required
to attend workshop sessions, we encourage them to take advantage of the chance to learn
skills and platforms that are applicable to their classes. Then, students and professors can
decide how they will integrate the workshops into their respective learning experiences. In
some cases, professors offer extra credit to students who show up, while in other instances,
faculty members attend as a form of professional development. Either way, our goal is to
see the badges be established in the university community as a reward that encourages par-
Librarians may also collaborate with a single department, major, or program on campus
to create badge systems. Individual departments or majors can develop badges that corre-
spond with the standard learning outcomes, competencies, and information literacy skills
in a specic discipline. For example, the University of California at Davis established an
interdisciplinary program in Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture. The program meas-
ures student progress by assigning a series of badges that represent the core competencies
of the program: strategic management, intrapersonal communication, systems thinking,
experimentation and inquiry, understanding values, and civic engagement.39 Students who
major in Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture are assigned digital portfolios, and when
they complete components of the degree program, they earn corresponding badges that are
displayed within those portfolios. According to Kevin Carey, the badges have realigned the
trajectory of the agriculture degree program. With the presence of badges, students cus-
tomize learning goals within the larger
curricular framework, integrate continu-
ing peer and faculty feedback about their
progress toward achieving those goals,
and tailor the way badges and the meta-
data within them are displayed to the out-
side world.40 This kind of program, in
my view, creates an ideal opportunity for
librarians to build ongoing collaborative
relationships with teaching faculty.
Librarians can easily develop badges that
signify core information-seeking skills
that are specic to a major or discipline.
These badges arise from discussions
between librarians and teaching faculty,
and they meet the needs of students in a
specic college or major.
I have used this model as a point of
departure to help a colleague pilot a badge
Metacognition Badge for Curation Culture. Badge program within the Department of Social
designed by Mike Price and Hunter Tinsley. Work at the University of Montevallo.
Changing the Game (Battista) 87

The Social Work program is in the process of developing a curriculum that encourages stu-
dents to pursue multiple professional literacies, including social media and multimodal
skills. Students in the program are bound by the Social Work Code of Ethics, which empha-
sizes the imperative for future practitioners to be advocates for systemic change and value
the worth of all human beings.41 To tie these philosophical principles to the tools needed
to serve as professionals, social work faculty will ask their students to earn badges that reect
core social work competencies, like ethics, professional identity and conduct, and critical
thinking. Similarly, they will earn badges that correspond to research-related literacies, like
an Empirical Article badge, a Self-Care badge, or a Social Justice badge. These com-
petencies, of course, arise out of the specic needs of social work students, yet they correlate
to existing information literacy learning outcomes as well. Badges complete the loop between
social work education and information literacy instructional design. The U.S. Census
Bureau Database Badge or the EBSCO PsychArticles Badge are two examples of badges
students can earn when they master information sources that are vital for professional prac-
tice. These badges create synergy between standard rubrics, like the ACRL Information
Literacy Competency Standards, and the needs of an individual discipline, like learning
how to nd data from the U.S. Census Bureau and write about that data in a way that pro-
motes social advocacy.42
Over time, badges can gain currency within a specic degree program, and teaching
faculty could recognize the accomplishments of students as they progress through the pro-
gram. For instance, a student who earns the U.S. Census Bureau badge in an entry-level
social work class can take ownership of that expertise in an upper-level class when she is
asked to retrieve data to prole a community. The badge becomes a token of a skill that
had been learned earlier. Badge systems like this are innovative because they invite students
to interpret their education not as a series of fragmented experiences in lower-level and
upper-level classes, but rather as a process that reinforces a composite journey toward
evidence-based professional practice. Alternative assessment systems like digital badges are
important because they recognize that students, do not gain knowledge, skills, or abilities
just from one course, just in their major, or just in the classroom; rather they enable insti-
tutions to capture student learning through all their interactions with institutional units.43
Both UC Daviss sustainable agriculture program and Montevallos Social Work program
indicate that badges can create cohesion in information literacy learning, which ultimately
can result in better assessment measures. In each instance, badges are effective because they
mitigate the challenges of assessing learning across disparate contexts in a university cur-
riculum. More so than grades, digital badges allow students to leave college with a sense of
ownership over their learning and accomplishments.

The Future of Badges

Grades are not the sum of higher educations problems, but they do exacerbate the
most challenging aspect of teaching: measuring the process of learning. Even though there
are a handful of successful badging programs throughout the academy, many educators have
legitimate, lingering questions about the potential for badges to transform education. One
overarching concern is that it remains unclear whether (or how) badges can coexist within
traditional, grade-based assessment systems, especially when students realize that letter
grades on a transcript are currently what inuence their ability to earn professional certi-
88 Games in Libraries

cations or gain admittance into graduate degree programs. Michael Resnick, one of many
so-called badge skeptics, worries that students will focus on accumulating badges rather
than making connections with the ideas and material associated with the badges the same
way that students too often focus on grades in a class rather than the material in class.44
If Resnicks suspicion is true, badges will become just another metaphor, a proverbial carrot
on the stick that drives students to be extrinsic learners. Some students will see through the
veil and translate badges into grades, which essentially nullies the dynamic of the course.
Still others are suspicious of badges and other game-based learning pedagogies because of
the way they have been co-opted by corporate entities. At the 2011 Summer Institute of the
Association for Cultural Studies, Carol Stabile suggested that badges and other game elements
are construed as neoliberal solutions to the problems of higher education (problems, she
points out, that can be traced directly to the privatization and neoliberal current in our
public institutions).45 It is entirely possible that gamication could fragment an education,
turning it into a series of modules to be completed in the vein of corporate training ses-
However, the greatest obstacle to digital badges as assessment and game-based learning
in general may be the amount of time it takes to make the concept familiar to students. I
have discovered that game-based learning is a radical revision of the educational process,
and for many students, the integration of digital elements and game-based principles into
the classroom can be disorienting, if not overwhelming. In order for digital badges to func-
tion properly, students need some kind of framework or incentive to understand the dynam-
ics of the game being played. To start, they must agree to play the game. When I taught
Curation Culture for the rst time, I wanted to discover if digital badges could replace tra-
ditional grades as motivation for participation and learning. I told each of the students that
regardless of how many badges they earned, I would le an A on their transcript for the
class. At the end of my Curation Culture class, I asked students to reect on their experience,
and I wondered if they saw the process of earning badges as part of a game. One student
responded to my in-class survey by saying that the achievement points sort of became a
competition, though there wasnt enough activity for it to feel all that competitive. While
it is clear that not all students respond to competition uniformly, there needs to be a shared
community understanding that there is a game taking place or else student participation
will stagnate. Without a shared community or compelling narrative, anyone who participates
in learning will have difculty translating the badges into a meaningful context. In the end,
students in my initial section of Curation Culture accomplished far less than I would have
liked, a result that reinforces just how powerful our existing method of grade-based assess-
ment actually is. Nevertheless, I am convinced that badges do offer the potential for students,
teachers, and librarians to revise the learning encounter in the classroom and even create
contexts for information literacy instruction where none had existed previously.
Badge systems will not automatically solve every challenge involved with assessing stu-
dent learning, but they will help information literacy instruction librarians crystallize their
expectations and develop effective collaborative relationships with teaching faculty. Badges
instill a sense of autonomy in students and are conducive to the learning modes of students
in the digital age generation. A number of digital tools make designing and facilitating a
game-based badge system in an information literacy instruction setting a possibility for
librarians. Given the condition of education in the United States, librarians and teaching
faculty should do something radical to change the game of instruction and assessment.
Badges have the potential to be such radical change.
Changing the Game (Battista) 89

1. For some recent studies on declining standards in higher education, see Andrew Delbanco, College:
What it Was, Is, and Should Be, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012) and Richard Arum and Josipa
Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
2. Catherine Rampell, A History of College Grade Ination, Economix (blog), July 14, 2011, http://econo
3. Ibid.
4. Robert W. Connor and Cheryl Ching, Can Learning Be Improved When Budgets are in the Red?.
Chronicle of Higher Education, April 25, 2010,
5. George D. Kuh, What We Are Learning About Student Engagement, Change 35 (2003), 28.
6. The 2009 annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges and Universities hosted a workshop
in which college administrators examined models at Antioch College, the New College in Florida, and other
institutions that employ non-conventional assessment systems. See Scott Jaschik, Imagining College without
Grades, Inside Higher Ed, January 22, 2009,
7. There is no shortage of articles about the plight of academic libraries in an age of restricted academic
budgets and widespread changes in digital technologies. For an overview of this discussion, see Scott Carlson,
For Making the Most of College, Its Still Location, Location, Location, Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb-
ruary 4, 2013,
8. Maura A. Smale, Get in the Game: Developing an Information Literacy Classroom Game, Journal
of Library Innovation 3, no. 1 (2012), 127.
9. Char Booth provides a succinct list of these challenges: Many library educators are involved in instruc-
tion on a part-time basis and therefore lack the immersive challenge that allows other educators to develop
skills quickly and keep current and engaged. Teaching librarians tend to have more limited interactions with
learners, meaning that it can be difcult to see immediate or long-term evidence of our interventions. Materials
and lessons are often repeated, which can generate a sense of redundancy or malaise. [] Our educational
contexts and institutional resources vary, making mandated curriculum nearly impossible to achieve (and con-
sequently difculty to train around shared content). Char Booth, Reective Teaching, Effective Learning:
Instructional Literacy for Library Educators (Chicago: American Library Association, 2011), 5.
10. Theresa McDevitt, ed., Let the Games Begin! Engaging Students with Field-Tested Interactive Information
Literacy Instruction (New York: Neal-Schumann Publishers, Inc., 2011); Ameet Doshi, How Gaming Could
Improve Information Literacy, Computers in Libraries 26, no. 5 (2006): 1417; and Amy Harris and Scott
E. Rice, eds., Gaming in Academic Libraries: Collections, Marketing, and Information Literacy (Chicago: Amer-
ican Library Association, 2008).
11. Marc Prensky, Digital Game-Based Learning (St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2007), 17.
12. N. Katherine Hayles, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 2012), 11.
13. Karl M. Kapp, The Gamication of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for
Training and Instruction (San Francisco, Pfeiffer, 2012), 63.
14. Cathy N. Davidson, Can Badging be the Zipcar of Testing and Assessment?. DML Central (blog),
February 21, 2012,
15. For an extension of Davidsons ideas on games and assessment, see Now You See It: How the Brain
Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn (New York: Viking, 2011).
16. Digital Media + Learning Competition 4: Badges for Lifelong Learning, Digital Media + Learning,
accessed March 3, 2013,
17. Ibid.
18. Jake New, Mozilla Releases Long-Discussed Software to Offer Badges for Learning, Chronicle of
Higher Education, March 14, 2013,
19. Introducing Mozilla Persona, an Identity System for the Web, Mozilla Persona, http://www.mozilla.
20. The Open Badges project is still in a developmental stage. To create uniformity, all badges submitted
must adhere to established design metadata specications. See Get Started Issuing Open Badges, Mozilla
Open Badges,
21. Emily Goligoski, Motivating the Learner: Mozillas Open Badges Program, Access to Knowledge 4,
no. 1 (2012), 1.
22. Cathy N. Davidson, Why Students Gripe About Grades, Inside Higher Ed, January 7, 2013, http://
23. Megan Oakleaf, The Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report (Chicago:
Association of College and Research Libraries, 2010), 14.
90 Games in Libraries

24. Derek Rodriguez, Understanding Library Impacts on Student Learning, In the Library with the Lead
Pipe (blog), June 15, 2011,
25. Cormier, Dave, Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum, Daves Education Blog, June 3,
26. Ibid.
27. Shauna Masura, Why Badges Matter for School Libraries, Library Media Connection 31, no. 1 (2012),
28. Kapp, 12.
29. Ibid., 4648.
30. P2PU Badgemaker, Peer 2 Peer University,
32. See About Moodle, Moodle, About Mahara, Mahara, http://www.
33. Blackboard, one of the most widely-used learning management systems, does not currently facilitate
badge systems in individual course shells. Many other products, such as Canvas, are developing badge capa-
bilities into their products.
34., Wordpress,
35. Achievements for Wordpress, Wordpress,
36. For an example of a learning community on Wordpress that uses the BuddyPress Achievements plug-
in, see my blog, Curation Culture,
37. About, Curation Culture (blog),
38. Platforms, Curation Culture (blog),
39. Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, University of California Davis http://asi.ucdavis.
40. Kevin Carey, A Future Full of Badges, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2012, http://www.
41. Code of Ethics, National Association of Social Workers, accessed March 27, 2013, http://www.
42. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Association of College & Research
Libraries, accessed January 16, 2013,
43. Richard P. Keeling, Andrew F. Wall, Ric Underhile, and Gwendolyn J. Dungy, Assessment Reconsidered:
Institutional Effectiveness for Student Success, International Center for Student Success and Institutional Account-
ability, (2008), 8.
44. Michael Resnick, Still a Badge Skeptic, HASTAC (blog), February 27, 2012, http://hastac. org/blogs/
45. Persisting Inequalities: Gamication and Education, ACS Summer Institute 2011, http://www.

About. Curation Culture (blog).
About Mahara. Mahara.
About Moodle. Moodle.
Achievements for Wordpress. Wordpress.
Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. University of California Davis. http://asi.ucdavis.
Arum, Richard and Josipa Roksa. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 2011.
Booth, Char. Reective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators. Chicago:
American Library Association, 2011.
Carey, Kevin. A Future Full of Badges. Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2012. http://www.chronicle.
Carlson, Scott. For Making the Most of College, Its Still Location, Location, Location. Chronicle of Higher
Education, February 4, 2013.
Code of Ethics. National Association of Social Workers.
Changing the Game (Battista) 91

Connor, Robert W. and Cheryl Ching. Can Learning Be Improved When Budgets are in the Red? Chronicle
of Higher Education, April 25, 2010.
Cormier, Dave. Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum. Daves Educational Blog. June 3, 2008.
Davidson, Cathy N. Can Badging Be the Zipcar of Testing and Assessment? DML Central (blog). January
7, 2013.
_____. Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn.
New York: Viking, 2011.
_____. Why Students Gripe About Grades. Inside Higher Ed, January 7, 2013. http://www.insidehighered.
Delbanco, Andrew. College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.
Digital Media + Learning Competition 4: Badges for Lifelong Learning. Digital Media + Learning. Accessed
March 3, 2013. http://dmlcompetition. net/Competition/4/research-development.php/.
Doshi, Ameet. How Gaming Could Improve Information Literacy. Computers in Libraries 26, no. 5 (2006):
Getting Started on Issuing Open Badges. Mozilla Open Badges.
Goligoski, Emily. Motivating the Learner: Mozillas Open Badges Program. Access to Knowledge 4, no. 1
(2012): 18.
Harris, Amy and Scott E. Rice, eds. Gaming in Academic Libraries: Collections, Marketing, and Information.
Chicago: American Library Association, 2008.
Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 2012.
Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Association of College & Research Libraries.
Accessed January 16, 2013.
Introducing Mozilla Persona, an Identity System for the Web. Mozilla Persona.
Jaschik, Scott. Imagining College without Grades. Inside Higher Ed, January 22, 2009. http://www.inside
Kapp, Karl M. The Gamication of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training
and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2012.
Keeling, Richard P., Andrew F. Wall, Ric Underhile, and Gwendolyn J. Dungy. Assessment Reconsidered: Insti-
tutional Effectiveness for Student Success. International Center for Student Success and Institutional Account-
ability. 2008.
Kuh, George D. What We Are Learning About Student Engagement. Change 35 (2003): 2432.
Masura, Shauna. Why Badges Matter for School Libraries. Library Media Connection 31, no. 1 (2012): 16
McDevitt, Theresa R., ed. Let the Games Begin! Engaging Students with Field-Tested Interactive Information
Literacy Instruction. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2011.
New, Jake. Mozilla Releases Long-Discussed Software to Offer Badges for Learning. Chronicle of Higher
Education, March 14, 2013.
Oakleaf, Megan. The Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report. Chicago: Asso-
ciation of College and Research Libraries, 2010.
P2PU Badgemaker. Peer 2 Peer University.
Persisting Inequalities: Gamication and Education. ACS Summer Institute, 2011. http://www.acssi2011.
Prensky, Marc. Digital Game-Based Learning. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2007.
Rampell, Catherine, A History of College Grade Ination. Economix (blog). July 14, 2011. http://economix.
Resnick, Michael. Still a Badge Skeptic. HASTAC (blog). February 27, 2012.
Rodriguez, Derek. Understanding Library Impacts on Student Learning. In the Library with the Lead Pipe
(blog). June 15, 2011.
Smale, Maura A. Get in the Game: Developing an Information Literacy Classroom Game. Journal of Library
Innovation 3, no. 1 (2012): 12647. Wordpress.
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience

Libraries have provided gaming to the public for well over a century. For example
British libraries attempted to lure patrons away from public houses by creating a safe envi-
ronment for the public to engage in games and other leisurely activities in the 1800s.1 Also,
as far back as the 1930s, the New York Public Library was luring in kids using chess and
board games.2 Over the years, libraries have used gaming for many reasons, mainly to
attract underserved patrons and provide entertainment for members of the community.3
Though there are many reasons to create game-based programming in a public library, in
this chapter, I hope to ignite a passion for connecting gaming directly to literature, thus
creating a literary gaming experience.

A Practiced Method
In Scott Nicholsons book, Everyone Plays at the Library, he compares preparing a gam-
ing program with that of a storytime. To plan a storytime, Nicholson suggests that librarians
should rst consider things like the purpose, participants overall experience, length of pro-
gram, age range, and a method to assess the storytimes impact. Once these vital questions
are considered, then the librarian pursues a story that ts the needs of the overall storytime
experience.4 Similar to a storytime experience, to create a literary gaming experience there
must be an understanding that the game, just like a story book in a storytime, needs to be
used as an inspiration or stimulus for an entire experience that can promote reading, instead
of simply focusing on the entertainment value of the game. A method of creating a literary
gaming experience that I would suggest involves similar principles one would follow when
planning a story time program with emphases on three key components: dening the purpose
of the gaming program, deciding what experiences one hopes to create for the program
attendees, and understanding the potential program demographic.

In creating game-based programming, the rst step is to dene the purpose for the
program. For the majority of library professionals, the purpose of library gaming programs
is more than simply playing games in the library. Even though entertainment is one of the
goals of a gaming program in a library, most libraries state that their goals are to bring
people into the library who typically dont use the library, to meet the needs of those who
already use the library and are seeking an additional service, and to create a community
activity that allows patrons to interact at the library.5
Whichever goals you decide on, always try to incorporate a theme or connection to a

Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 93

specic book, a series of books, or at the very least, a specic genre. The simplest form of this
idea would be to simply have an assortment of cheat code books at a Mario Cart Tournament
for attendees to browse or checkout while they wait on their turn to play. Another more in-
depth form of this idea would be to have a live action role playing game (LARP) where the
attendees can be teleported into a scene of a popular work of ction, like the cornucopia battle
in the Hunger Games. By providing the program attendees an opportunity to immerse them-
selves into a game that can be closely tied to a literary work, you can promote books to
reluctant readers, encourage current readers to try new genres, or create an environment where
your program attendees can meet new friends who have the same literary tastes.

Closely tied to the purpose is the experience you hope to create for attendees, which
can vary depending on the type of book you link to your program and most importantly,
which underlying concept of the gaming experience you hope to employ. In his book, Every-
one Plays at the Library, Scott Nicholson denes ve concepts which he calls The Five
Gaming Experience Archetypes. At least one of these ve concepts-Social, Narrative,
Action, Knowledge, and Strategy-can be found in every game ever created. Before you can
decide what type of game you want to use or create, you will need to decide which of the
Five Gaming Experience Archetypes you want to focus on.
SocialSocial gaming experiences focus on the interactions between players.
Social gaming differs from the narrative gaming experience in that players in
narrative games interact through the roles of the characters they portray in the
game. Social gaming experiences allow players to get to know each other instead
of getting to know the characters they are playing.6
NarrativeNarrative gaming experiences focus on the interaction between
players and the world in which the game is set. Storytelling is an important aspect
of these games; the game creator tells part of the story and sets the stage. And the
players, through playing the game, tell the rest of the story.7
ActionAction gaming experiences focus on the ability of the players to
manipulate the game state. These gaming experiences stress the physical skills of
the players, such as hand-eye coordination and reexes.8
KnowledgeKnowledge gaming experiences are those experiences that focus on
the knowledge from the external world that a player brings to the game. These
games can range from educational games used in a classroom to party games such
as the popular Trivial Pursuit in which players recall obscure facts to word games
such as Scrabble and Boggle.9
StrategyA strategy gaming experience focuses on the intellectual aspects of the
decision making required to play a game. These decisions include both the short-
term tactical decisions required to take advantage of the currant game stage and
the long-term strategic planning needed to guide a players actions over the course
of a game.10
Within each of the Five Gaming Experience Archetypes, a library professional should
be able to nd a variety of games that have a direct connection to literature. For instance,
if the focus is on a Social gaming experience, the library staff could use a literary based
board game like A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, which is based on A Game of
Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Because this is an analog game, players are forced to face
94 Games in Libraries

each other, thus facilitating social interaction. Maybe you want your attendees to experience
a narrative gaming experience and decide to use Activisions Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
video game, which allows from 14 players to take on the role of superheroes working
together to ght crime in the Marvel Comics universe. Or maybe you are like me and you
want go to the extreme and focus on creating a program using an assortment of the Five
Gaming Experience Archetypes, like when I introduced a group of teens to Susanne Collins
Hunger Games, by creating an environment where they participated in a social, narrative,
action, and strategy gaming experience by reenacting an exciting battle scene while using
marshmallow guns, which will be discussed later in this chapter. For each of the Five Gam-
ing Experience Archetypes there are countless possibilities to facilitate specic experiences
while still providing attendees with a fun, safe, and literature focused event.

Demographic and Difculty

Another factor to consider when planning any game-based programming includes under-
standing your demographic. Each age group of patrons that is served by the library has dif-
ferent abilities and reservations. It is important to realize the capabilities of the age group
you are planning a program for, but this is especially true when dealing with gaming. During
the decision making process of deciding what experience you want your attendees to have,
you will need to come to terms with the social, physical, and mental limitations your chosen
demographic might contain. For example, when working with teenagers you may learn that
because of the fear of peer ridicule, many teens will choose not to participate or to simply
not attend if the game is out of their comfort zone. Also, if you are planning a program for
senior adults, there might be some physical activities they are unable or unwilling to perform.
In the end, all you can do is try to learn what your community or chosen demographic enjoys
or is willing to try and then plan your game-based program accordingly.
After you dene the purpose of the gaming program, decide what experiences you
hope to create within the program, and understand the potential program demographic;
the next steps are to choose a gaming format and a specic game you would like to use as
a stimulus in order to create a literary gaming experience that can effectively connect a
gamer to a book.

Ways to Connect Gamers to Books

In many libraries, the best way to provide readers advisory assistance is through ref-
erence interviews. In these interviews, we ask questions like:
What authors do you like to read?
What are the last three books you read and enjoyed?
What did you like about the last book you read?
After learning the answers to these questions, the proper procedure for a librarian is
to attempt to connect readers with new titles or authors that contain elements similar to
the names and titles they mention in the reference interview.11 Now when it comes to the
generations of patrons under the age of 30, you can include questions like:
What games do you like to play?
Do you play video games, board games, or role-playing games?
What did you like about the game?
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 95

Games, like books, have subjects, and with a short interview you can determine what
makes a particular game appealing and offer some read-alike suggestions.12
Readers advisory can also take place during programs. Libraries have the potential to
connect a huge population of gamers to books that correlate with their favorite games. By
simply implementing gaming programs where the games already have a direct connection
to a book, the library staff will have an easier time providing a comparison between the
game and book. Within most game formats, including board games, video games, and role-
playing games (RPGs), game designers have used popular ction or historical truths within
the game designs. In fact, I think many people would be surprised by how many games out
there connect to works of literature.
In order to assist those who are interested in creating a literary gaming experience
during their library programs by connecting a game to a work of literature, I have supplied
a selection of game suggestions in the three primary gaming formats, which include board
games, video games, and role-playing games (RPGs), as well as other game-based programs
with literary emphases. Within each of the sections pertaining to the primary gaming for-
mats, I present the games in proles that focus on variables important to connecting the
games to literature based library programs.
Here is the structure of each game prole:
Game name, publisher, number of players, rating
Novel/Genre: A title and the author of a specic literary work or series
Platform: various consoles with which the game is available (if applicable)
Description: A short explanation of the games dynamics.

Boards to Books
One way to create a literary gaming experience with very little effort is to locate board
games that are based on popular literary works. Board games based on books can be an out-
standing way to help teens and adults become more interested in reading. For example, some
might have little interest in reading Tolkiens Lord of the Rings novels, but after becoming
immersed in the world of Middle Earth through gameplay, a few might change their minds.13
In these novel-based board games, players are introduced to the various sites and sounds of
foreign lands as represented in adventure, romance, mystery or fantasy books. There are
numerous board games that can provide players with a challenging and fun way to experience
both literature and gaming. A terric source to use in attempting to locate quality board
games that have a good literature connection is A few games that are
based on popular literature and can be easily adapted into a library program through a board
game club, graphic novel club, or even a family game night event are listed below.

Arkham Horror, Arclight, 18 players, ages 12 and up

Novel/Genre: Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Description: Arkham Horror is a team-oriented game based on H.P. Lovecrafts Cthulhu
Mythos. Participants select from 16 investigators and storm the city of Arkham. At the
outset one of the Ancient Ones (8 in total) are selected and it is the task of the investigators
to prevent it from entering our world. It is the job of the players to clean out the streets of
Arkham by combating a variety of monsters, but their main task is to close portals to other
dimensions that are opening up around town.14
96 Games in Libraries

Age of Conan: The Strateg y Board Game, Devir, 24 players, ages 12 and up
Novel/Genre: Conan by Robert E. Howard
Description: Age of Conan is a board game which puts players in control of one of
the major kingdoms of the Hyborian age, in the period of history well known through the
tales of the adventures of Conan the Cimmerian, the barbarian hero created by Robert E.
Howard. Players will ght with armies, sorcery and intrigue to make their kingdom the
most powerful of its age, and to secure on their side the mightiest hero of all Conan the
Batman: Gotham City Strateg y Game, WizKids Games, 24
players, ages 12 and up
Novel/Genre: Batman (DC Comics)
Description: Behind the faade of the great Gotham City lies an active underworld
of criminal activity. In Batman: Gotham City Strateg y Game, youll play as one of Gotham
Citys greatest villains The Joker, The Penguin, Killer Croc, or Two-Face and lead your
gang of henchmen to try to become the King of Crime in Gotham City! But beware, as
your hold on the city increases, so does the chance of your plans being foiled by Gothams
protector Batman!16
DC Comics Deck-Building Game, Cryptozioc Entertainment,
25 players, ages 15 and up
Novel/Genre: DC Comics Universe (comics & movies)
Description: In the DC Comics Deck-Building Game you will choose a superhero
Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, or Cyborg
then attempt to craft a deck lled with abilities and powers that can help you defeat all of
the earths most vilest villains.17
Dune, Avalon Hill, 26 players, ages 12 and up
Novel/Genre: Dune by Frank Herbert
Description: Set thousands of years in the future, Dune the board game is based on
the Frank Herbert novels about an arid planet at the heart of the human space empires
political machinations. Players will take the role of one of the factions attempting to control
Dune. Each faction must survive the deadly landscapes while battling with other players in
order to gain complete control of the planet.18
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (First Edition),
Beacon Multimedia S.A., 35 players, ages 12 and up
Novel/Genre: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice & Fire)
Description: In A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, players will become the leader
of one of the great Houses of Westeros. Players must give orders to armies, control main
characters, gather resources for the approaching winter, and survive the assault of their ene-
mies. Through resource management, diplomacy, and cunning, players seek to win domi-
nance over the land.19
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Blackre Entertainment,
12 players (can be expanded up to 4 players), ages 13 and up
Novel/Genre: The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
Description: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is set in Tolkiens Middle-earth
seventeen years from Bilbos birthday until Frodos departure from the Shire. This game is
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 97

a cooperative adventure game where players work together to complete quests and defeat
enemies. Also, this is a Living Card Game where new adventure packs are released monthly.20

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, Upper Deck Entertainment,

15 players, ages 14 and up
Novel/Genre: Marvel Comics Universe
Description: Set in the Marvel Comics universe, Legendary: a Marvel Deck Building
Game, requires players to try and build the strongest deck by recruiting powerful heroes to
combat the villains who keep popping up to cause trouble. Each time a player defeats villains
he/she gains those cards, which are worth points at the games conclusion. While players
are trying to defeat villains they also have to worry about the games supervillain mastermind,
who can cause all active players to lose no matter how many villains they have beaten.21

Pillars of the Earth, 999 Games, 24 players, ages 12 and up

Novel/Genre: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Description: Based on the bestselling novel be Ken Follet, Pillars of the Earth is a game
set at the beginning of the 13th century while the construction of the greatest and most
beautiful cathedral in England is being built. Players are builders who try to contribute the
most to this cathedrals construction and, in doing so, score the most victory points. The
player with the most victory points by the end of the game is declared the winner.22

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island, Filosoa Edition,

14 players, ages 10 and up
Novel/Genre: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe
Description: Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island is an impressive co-
op game where players are marooned on a deserted island, where theyll play the parts of
shipwreck survivors confronted by an unexpected adventure. Players will be faced with chal-
lenges of building shelter, nding food, ghting wild animals, protecting themselves from
weather changes, and many other similar situations that occurred in the best novels of Jules
Verne and Daniel Dafoe.23
(Information compiled with Jacen Chris Baker.)

Video Games to Books

In Gamers in the Library?, Eli Neiburger emphasizes that video games have become essential
for many in our society, especially among the younger generations. In fact, it still amazes me
to see a culture of adolescents who do not equate gaming as geeky or nerdy, and instead modern
young adults consider playing video games to be just as important as talking on the phone,
texting their friends, watching movies, or listening to music.24 With the understanding that
todays culture is so game-minded it is easy to say that video games have become a powerful
tool available for librarians to use to attract teens, children, and even adults into the library.
There have been many articles as well as books on the topic of explaining the benets
of playing video games, like in James Paul Gees book What Video Games Have to Teach us
About Learning and Literacy. Other texts like Beth Gallaways book Game On! Gaming at
the Library, explains how to incorporate gaming into libraries. Librarians are beginning to
understand that in order to attract new patrons or provide another benecial service for
communities, they must embrace video games in the library. I am a rm believer in embracing
98 Games in Libraries

video games into a librarys collection as well as incorporating them into programs. But, I
think some librarians might miss the true opportunity that video games provide, which is
having an interactive story based media that has many connections to popular literature.
Through the use of video games, librarians can provide a fun and entertaining program that
can encourage the attendees to read literature that correlates to the video game content.
There are many video games that have connections to literature, though because of
the mature content ratings, a lot of those titles might be difcult to build programs around.
A good source to use when attempting to locate quality video games to use in a library pro-
gram is A few video game titles that can easily be connected to literature
are listed below.

Dantes Inferno, Electronic Arts, 1 player, Mature

Novel/Genre: Inferno, the rst book of Dante Alighieris epic poem, The Divine Comedy
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360
Description: Dantes Inferno is an action-adventure RPG where players take on the
persona of Dante, the storys protagonist. Players will encounter exciting combat and
environment-based puzzles while they try to retrieve Beatrice, Dantes love from the furthest
reaches of Hell itself.25

Game of Thrones, Atlus Co. Ltd, 1 player, Mature

Novel/Genre: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Description: Game of Thrones is an action-adventure RPG video game that places the
player in the roles of two characters-one is a recruit in the Nights Watch and the other is
from one of the many small Houses in Westeros. Throughout the game, players will switch
between the two characters, in a style very similar to the way the books are written.26

Goosebumps: Horrorland, Scholastic Entertainment, 12 players, ages 10 and up

Novel/Genre: R.L. Stines Goosebumps series
Platform(s): Wii
Description: Goosebumps Horrorland is an adventure game set in a fright-themed amuse-
ment park lled with over thirty thrilling rides and bone-chilling attractions. Sounds like fun
until players discover the scares are all too real and nd themselves vanquishing vampires,
hanging on for life on the Roller Ghoster and battling Certain Death. As players endishly try
to escape the park, they will unravel a mystery, encounter a host of creepy horrors, monsters
and mummies plus trademark Goosebumps twists and cliffhangers. Goosebumps Horrorland
will offer the suspense, pulse-pounding action, tension and humor that denes the franchise.27

Lego Harry Potter: Years 14, Warner Brothers Interactive,

12 players, Everyone (all ages)
Novel/Genre: J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Description: Lego Harry Potter: Years 14 is a video game based on the Lego Harry
Potter line and its storyline covers the rst four lms of the Harry Potter series: Philosophers
Stone (Sorcerers Stone in the U.S.), Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet
of Fire.28
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 99

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5 7, Warner Brothers Interactive,

12 players, Everyone (all ages)
Novel/Genre: J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Description: Lego Harry Potter: Years 57 is based on the Lego Harry Potter line and
is based on the nal four lms in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hal-
lows Part 1, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.29

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, Warner Brothers Interactive,
12 players, Everyone (all ages)
Novel/Genre: The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Description: Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game is an action-adventure
RPG video game. Based on The Lord of the Rings books and lm trilogy, the game follows
the original storylines of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of
the King, taking players through the epic story events.30

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Activision and LucasArts,

12 players, ages 10 and up
Novel/Genre: Star Warsbased ction and Star Wars graphic novels
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Description: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a combination of the game Lego
Star Wars: The Video Game and its sequel Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. The
complete Saga allows players to travel through all six Star Wars lms.31

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Activision, 14 players, ages 13 and up

Novel/Genre: Marvel Comics Universe
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Description: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is an all-new Action/RPG that lets players create
their ultimate team from the largest superhero alliance ever as they engage in an epic quest
to determine the fate of the Marvel universe. For decades, Earths superheroes have opposed
evil in their own cities, and on their own terms. But now, Dr. Doom and a newly reformed
Masters of Evil have plans for world domination, and the heroes must band together to defeat
them. Players can create and control their own completely unique team, selecting from the
largest roster of legendary superheroes ever assembled in one game. Also, players will be
able to unlock unique comic book missions that reenact legendary Marvel battles.32

Pokmon Battle Revolution, Nintendo, 12 players, Everyone (all ages)

Novel/Genre: Pokmon graphic novels and Tracey Wests Pokmon Chapter Books
Platform(s): Wii
Description: Pokmon Battle Revolution is an action/ghting RPG video game that
takes place on a Pokmon-themed park called Poktopia. The objective is to win all the
Coliseum battles and become the Poktopia champion. This game allows players to enjoy
battling alone or the ability to compete against their friends in a 16 person single elimination
tournament mode. This game also has the ability to allow players to link their Nintendo
DS consoles to the game using the Pokmon Diamond and Pearl DS games.33
100 Games in Libraries

RPG to Books
Another way to create a literary gaming experience is through the use of Tabletop
Roleplaying Games (RPG). In an RPG there is a group of players and a game master (GM).
Players must create characters for use in the ctional worlds that are either provided in a
game or created by the group. One participant within the group acts as the game master
and sets the stage and presents challenges. Content and difculty will vary but many of the
basics of RPGs stay the same. For instance, during a game, the designated game master will
depict the environment and the players must explain the reactions of their characters in
accordance to the situation.34 The rules for the RPGs are usually in book form and can be
quite complex. These rulebooks present two types of information: (1) data about the game
world, players abilities and powers, and typical creatures and monsters, and (2) data about
the mechanics that the GM and players will use to make the game happen.35
Many probably assume that tabletop RPGs are simply games where players battle demons
and slay dragons, but in reality RPGs are story based games that allow players to examine
real issues within the context of a game. In a game, players will most likely experience com-
bat, but they will also be required to work through social situations, solve problems with
their mental prowess, and they are required to familiarize themselves with the laws of the
fantasy world in order to interact properly with the game.36 Since the 1970s, companies
have been creating numerous types of RPGs that span over many genres. There are RPGs
based on action/adventure, crime, fantasy, history, horror, mythology, the occult, science
ction, and many more. There are even RPGs that are set in the worlds of literature.
With access to numerous RPGs that already have direct links to popular ction, librarians
have the opportunity to introduce gamers to books with little or no effort. Also, librarians
can introduce individuals who are reading a book or series to a game format that will allow
them to experience their favorite novels rsthand. A terric source to use in attempting to
locate quality RPGs that have a good literature connection is A few games that
are based on popular literature and can be easily adapted into a library program setting are
listed below.

Call of Cthulhu, Chaosium

Novel/Genre: Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Description: In this mind-blowing RPG, ancient knowledge and dark secrets await
those brave or foolish enough to delve into the depths of the unknown. Discover terrifying,
malevolent creatures that defy the darkest recesses of the imagination. Confront horrifying
truths long hidden away from the minds of the sane. The risks of investigating such arcana
reach way beyond death the rewards exceed explanation. Inspired by the works of H.P.
Lovecraft, the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game is a self-contained d20 System game that
provides everything you need to explore the realm of horror.37

James Bond 007, Victory Games

Novel/Genre: James Bond books and lms.
Description: Based on James Bond books and lms, the James Bond 007 RPG allows
players to enter an exhilarating and treacherous world lled with spies, high speed chases,
gadgets, casinos, glamorous women, thugs, goons and villains. Playing as James Bond, or
any Agent or Rookie created, players follow the path of a secret agent taking action against
enemies of the free world.38
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 101

Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game, Archaia Studios Press

Novel/Genre: Mouse Guard graphic novel series by David Petersen
Description: Based on David Petersens Mouse Guard comic books and graphical nov-
els, players in this shared narrative adventure must join the Mouse Guard and defend the
Mouse Territories against predators and dangers.39

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Adventure Game, Decipher

Novel/Genre: The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien
Description: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Adventure Game is an introductory
RPG set in Middle-earth designed for players aged 1216. In this exciting game, based on
the Fellowships travels through the Mines of Moria, players can take on the pre-generated
roles of any of the nine members of the Fellowship and be guided through an adventure by
the Narrator.40

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Adventure Game: The Two Towers, Decipher
Novel/Genre: The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien
Description: In this adventure, players can take on the pregenerated roles of Aragorn,
Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli and be guided through an adventure that leads the heroes
across the plains of Rohan, into the city of Edoras, and nally to the siege of the Hornburg.
This is the second role-playing adventure game by Decipher, which is aimed at a younger

The One Ring: Adventures Over the Edge of the Wild, Cubicle 7 Entertainment
Novel/Genre: The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien
Description: The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild is the new role-
playing game based on The Lord of the Rings the most inuential [force] in fantasy. Its
set after the events of The Hobbit; the initial game is set [in] the region of northern Mirk-
wood and environs, with future releases expanding the scope of the setting to encompass
more of Middle-earth as the era moves closer to the looming War of the Ring.42

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: A Game of Thrones Edition,

Green Ronin Publishing
Novel/Genre: George R.R. Martins A Song of Ice and Fire
Description: A Game of Thrones Edition is the new core rule book for A Song of Ice
and Fire Roleplaying. Based on George R.R. Martins fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire
Roleplaying provides players with everything they need to create and run games in the
Seven Kingdoms where they will be transported into the best-selling novels and hit TV
shows. In this role-playing adventure, players will take on roles of key members of a noble
house navigating the perilous waters of Westerosi politics and intrigue.43

Starship Troopers, Mongoose Publishing

Novel/Genre: Robert Heinleins Starship Troopers
Description: In the Starship Troopers: the Roleplaying Game, players are transported
to a terrifying far-future where mankind battles the ravenous Arachnids in a struggle for
control. Players in this game take on the role of a Mobile Infantry Trooper, a member of
humanitys most advanced armed forces. Battling across space in a desperate struggle for
the control of a galaxy, players will not just be ghting for their lives but for the survival
of the human species.44
102 Games in Libraries

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, Palladium Books

Novel/Genre: Based on the comic books created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Description: Inspired by the comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, players can
create their own mutant animals with human skills and combat abilities and help humanity
with their own brand of vigilante justice. The book introduces Palladiums mutant animal
creation system with a variety of common North American animals. Also includes stats for
characters from the TMNT comics, as well as unique creations for the games setting.45

Literary Gaming Program Case Studies

A Hunger for Games
If you are familiar with popular teen literature, you have probably heard about Suzanne
Collins amazing dystopian trilogy, The Hunger Games. Teens and adults alike fell in love
with this action packed love story and there are even more people beginning to enjoy the
series now that the books are being made into movies. For the last two years I have created
and heard about some terric game-based library programs that have entertained Hunger
Games fans and even sparked new interest in reluctant readers.
One Hunger Gamesbased program that I have had great success with is the Marsh-
mallow Gun War: Hunger Games Edition. The purposes of this program were to attract
new teens to the library, to meet the needs of The Hunger Games fan base who already use
the library, to create a community activity that allows teens to interact at the library and
to provide a literary gaming experience. I fullled these goals by allowing participants to
experience one of the biggest battle scenes described in each of The Hunger Games books,
which were the cornucopia battles. In the program I wanted the teens to experience as many
of Scott Nicholsons Gaming Experience Archetypes as possible. I ended up focusing on
the social, narrative, action, and strategy gaming experiences.
For the social experience I had teens pair up or form groups with other teens they
did not know.
For the narrative experience I had the teens reenact a pivotal scene from the book.
For the action experience I supplied marshmallow guns and marshmallows in an
outdoor playing eld that simulated the battle eld.
For the strategy experience I placed all the marshmallow guns and marshmallows
(the marshmallows were in sandwich bags with 20 in each bag) in the center of
the playing eld and I had the teens line up around the perimeter of the eld and
run to retrieve their weapons and ammunition.
As a teen library assistant, I understood that with the teen demographic some teens might
not be able to or have the desire to perform physical activity; therefore I created a second
game at the conclusion of the battle where all the participants and teen spectators were
instructed to pick up as many marshmallows as possible, in order to receive a prize. Also,
I had the teens who did not want to participate help me referee and rell ammunition bags.
By providing a secondary game I was able to kill two birds with one stone; I provided an
opportunity for everyone to have a chance to win a prize, even if they did not participate
in the battle, and I had the hundreds of marshmallows cleaned up for free!
Every time I put on the Marshmallow Gun War: Hunger Games Edition it has been
a complete success. To date, I have implemented the Marshmallow Gun War: Hunger
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 103

Games Edition program three times. The rst time I attempted the event, I had 20 par-
ticipants, the second time I had 40 attendees, and the third program was held at the smallest
branch in our library system and 17 attended. Each time I had the program I gave away
The Hunger Games books and movie to the winning tributes. The teens who participated
loved the programs and have asked numerous times to do it again. I would suggest this pro-
gram, or a similar one, to librarians looking for an imaginative way to promote a book or
Other Hunger Gamesbased gaming programs I have heard about include a Hunger
Games: Survival Night where teens were grouped into districts and had to use the materials
provided to create a shelter that could protect them from outside elements.46 Another library
had their teens compete in an archery contest, a Peetas cupcake designing contest, a Hunger
Games Jeopardy game, and a tribute costume design and fashion show.47 There has even
been a scholastic book fair where individuals of all ages could participate in a Hunger
Games Live Action Role Play (LARP).48

I Choose You Pikachu!

Two famous phrases that are synonymous with one of the most popular video game
franchises of the last 20 years are I Choose You Pikachu! and Gotta Catch Em All.
Pokmon has been hugely popular since its release in 1996. For those who might be less
familiar with Pokmon you will need to understand that in the Pokmon game series,
players act as trainers who go on journeys to collect ctional creatures called Pokmon.
As they catch Pokmon, they are mentored by wise scientists and must pay attention to all
the bits of information that are presented along the way and use these facts to draw con-
nections and make decisions.49 Though the popularity of Pokmon seems to be declining,
it has successfully branched out from its initial release to a role playing game, manga graphic
novels, anime, video games, card games, books, toys, and more.50
The potential for Pokmon to be a valuable program tool for libraries has already
been seen. Libraries all across the United States have been using Pokmon tournaments
both in video game and collectable card game formats for years. For librarians interested
in taking full advantage of this potential, the purpose of Pokmon themed programs
can be to attract new tweens and younger teens to the library, to meet the needs of the
Pokmon fan base who already use the library, to create a community activity that allows
tweens and younger teens to interact at the library, and to provide a literary gaming expe-
By using the Pokmon trading card game or video games like Pokmon Battle Revolution
for the Wii, librarians can provide program participants with both social and strategy gaming
experiences while still having a direct connection to literature. Because most Pokmon fans
play handheld video game systems such as the Nintendo DS, Nintendo DS Lite, and the
Nintendo DSi, if the library has a Wii and is willing to purchase Pokmon Battle Revolution,
this can provide an opportunity for your Pokmon fans to connect to the Wii through their
DS systems and compete against each other on the big screen.51 A Pokmon gaming program
can easily provide reluctant young readers with a desire to seek out stories about their
favorite cartoons or video game characters. If anyone needs more information on how to
set up a tournament with Pokmon cards or the video games you can contact your local
comic book or gaming store, as well as check out Erin Helmrich and Elizabeth Schneiders
book Create, Relate, & Pop @ the Library.
104 Games in Libraries

Another programming idea, similar to a Pokmon themed program, is to host a Yu-
Gi-Oh! tournament. Yu-Gi-Oh! began as a comic series written by Kazuki Takahashi in
1996. The Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game was rst launched by Konami in 1999 and Yu-Gi-
Oh! the cartoon released in 2000 and all across the U.S. Yu-Gi-Oh! exploded in popularity.52
The fan base for Yu-Gi-Oh! includes tweens, teens, and even adults. While the card gaming
aspect of Pokmon seems to be declining, the Yu-Gi-Oh! collectable card game is still pop-
As a former nationally ranked Yu-Gi-Oh! competitor, I have seen rsthand the potential
for connecting gamers to literature. I began watching the original Yu-Gi-Oh! animations
and decided to play a few of the video games. After a while I began to play the card game
at local tournaments held in comic book stores and gaming stores. While I began to play
the game and continued watching the animations, I picked up the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga style
graphic novels and immediately fell in love with manga. Over the years I have ceased com-
peting in Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments, but I still instruct teens and tweens in competitive play
during library programs, as well as continue to read numerous manga titles.
Yu-Gi-Oh! can be an expensive hobby because many gamers feel the need to purchase
new cards that are released every so often in order to maintain their deck for competitive
play. For this reason many librarians are reluctant to host Yu-Gi-Oh! events. At rst, I was
also reluctant to host tournaments because of the fear that some attendees would get dis-
couraged because they did not have the best cards or for the fear of someones cards getting
stolen. It occurred to me that there was a solution, which was to purchase Yu-Gi-Oh! struc-
ture decks. A structure deck is a theme-based pre-built Yu-Gi-Oh! deck that you can pur-
chase at most stores that carry games and toys. For example, I contacted the owner of Mad
Maxs Comics, a local comic and gaming store in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and was
given a great discount on ten different structure decks, deck sleeves, and deck boxes (the
sleeves and boxes are to protect the cards from the wear and tear of constant shufing and
dueling). After acquiring my supplies, I began hosting Yu-Gi-Oh! structure deck tourna-
ments, where participants could come and learn how to play Yu-Gi-Oh! without having to
invest any money in the game.
The purpose of Yu-Gi-Oh! themed programs can be to attract new tweens and teens
to the library, to meet the needs of the Yu-Gi-Oh! fan base who already use the library, to
create a community activity that allows tweens and teens to interact at the library and to
provide a literary gaming experience. By using the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game librarians
can provide program participants with both social and strategy gaming experiences while
still having a direct connection to literature. If you have no experience with collectable card
games call or visit your local gaming store and they will likely be glad to instruct you in
gameplay and possibly provide free or discounted materials to get your programs started.

A Puzzling Experience
Two years ago, when I was visiting a middle school for the public library, I found
myself in need of a simple and luring program that could be used in a school lunchroom
atmosphere that also encouraged reading. I wanted this program to entice students into the
library, particularly those who typically dont use the library, while maintaining a fun and
literature focused event. I also knew from experience that when you are trying to entice stu-
dents to speak to you during lunch, their most social part of the day, having a game with
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 105

prizes is necessary. The remedy to my dilemma came to me when I found Eric Berlins The
Puzzling World of Winston Breen, the rst of his three books.
In the story, the protagonist Winston Breen can only be described as an extreme puzzle
enthusiast. So when Winston and his sister nd some strange puzzle pieces in an antique
box, its only natural that Winston try to nd out where the box came from and what the
words on the puzzle pieces might mean. Soon, Winston and his friends are hunting for a
long-hidden treasure, accompanied by the town librarian, a giant ex-policeman, a pretty
reporter, and a pair of mysterious strangers who arrive out of nowhere looking for the
loot.53 Each book is lled with a variety of fun and head-scratching puzzles that are available
for download at
Using candy and other prizes as an enticement, I had the teens attempt to solve the
different puzzles from the book that I had downloaded and printed off for the school outreach
event. By using the free puzzles I was able to create a social and knowledge based gaming
experience, while introducing the students to a new book series. For my demographic of
sixth through eighth graders and their teachers, I knew I would need puzzles with different
levels of difculty. Luckily, in each of the books, there are easy puzzles and more difcult
puzzles. The author, Eric Berlin, had already done all the work for me.
If you nd yourself in a situation similar to the one I was in, I would highly recommend
Eric Berlins three books. In addition, another program possibility that can take advantage
of Eric Berlins books would be a book club held at a school or library, where you can read
aloud The Puzzling World of Winston Breen. By reading the book out loud with the students,
you can stop when Winston nds a new puzzle and have the students try to solve it. After
giving the students ample time to attempt to solve the puzzle you would then continue
reading the story until you found out the puzzle solution. I promise that you will have the
teens begging to continue. There are also more puzzles in the back of each of the books
that you can give to the participants to try and solve before the next book club meeting.

Throughout the chapter, I have presented a practical method of creating a literary
gaming experience, while highlighting the many ways a library can connect gamers to books.
Even though my experience with gaming in libraries is primarily focused on teens and
tweens, it is important to realize that gaming can be used as a library activity for all ages.
In fact, regardless of what your target age is or whether your programs purpose is to attract
the underserved into the library, to provide relevant programming for those who already
use the library, or to create a library-run community activity, always attempt to deliver a
literary gaming experience. In the end, by focusing on creating a literary gaming experience,
you have the potential to introduce individuals to a lifelong love of reading in addition to
simply providing them with entertainment.
Just like the storytime experiences that have been prominent in modern libraries for more
than a century, gaming in the library offers a mixture of educational and entertaining elements
that offer a natural attraction to library users. Using some of the examples and methods dis-
cussed in this chapter, the reader can use ones own creativity in tandem with a plan that ts
ones demographic, library space, and staff skill sets. Even as gaming formats have ourished
since the days of purely physical games, the popular inuence of games of all types, now pro-
moted through all types of media, is greater than ever before. Most games can be reduced, in
106 Games in Libraries

essence, to interactive storytelling. This makes them perfect tools for librarians as they seek
to nourish the minds of budding readers in the 21st century and beyond.

1. Scott Nicholson, Go Back to Start: Gathering Baseline Data about Gaming in Libraries, Library
Review 58, no. 3 (August 2009), 20314.
2. Jenny Levine, The Games People Play, American Libraries 39, no. 7 (August 2008): 38, Academic
Search Complete, EBSCOhost (33573014).
3. Nicholson, Go Back to Start, 20314.
4. Scott Nicholson, Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages, (Medford,
NJ: Information Today, 2010), 1718.
5. Nicholson, Go Back to Start, 20314.
6. Nicholson, Everyone Plays at the Library, 28.
7. Ibid., 107.
8. Ibid., 81.
9. Ibid., 35.
10. Ibid., 29.
11. Beth Gallaway, Game On!: Gaming at the Library (New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2009), 75.
12. Ibid., 75.
13. Susan Weber, Board Games Based on Books, Love to Know Board Games, accessed February 21,
2013, http://boardgames. lovetoknow. com/Board_Games_Based_on_Books.
14. Arkham Horror, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://boardgamegeek. com/boardgame/
15. Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://board
gamegeek. com/boardgame/27848/age-of-conan-the-strategy-board-game.
16. Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://boardgame
geek. com/boardgame/130911/batman-gotham-city-strategy-game.
17. DC Comics Deck-Building Game, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://boardgamegeek.
18. Dune, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013. http://boardgamegeek. com/boardgame/121/dune.
19. A Game of Thrones (First Edition), BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://boardgame
20. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://board
21. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://board
22. The Pillars of the Earth, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
23. Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island, BoardGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
http://boardgamegeek. com/boardgame/121921/robinson-crusoe-adventure-on-the-cursed-island.
24. Eli Neiburger, Gamers in the Library?: The Why, What, and How of Video game Tournaments for All
Ages (Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2007), 2.
25. Dantes Inferno, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
26. Game of Thrones, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
27. Goosebumps: Horrorland, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://videogamegeek.
28. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 14, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://videogamegeek.
29. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 57, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://videogamegeek.
30. Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://
31. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://videoga
32. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, VideogameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://videogamegeek.
Creating a Literary Gaming Experience (Ward) 107

33. Pokemon Battle Revolution, VideoGameGeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://videogamegeek.
34. Cason Snow, Tabletop Fantasy rpgs: Tips for Introducing Role-Playing Games in Your Library, School
Library Journal 55, no. 1 ( January 2009): 2425, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (35992172).
35. Nicholson, Everyone Plays at the Library, 109.
36. Ibid., 10812.
37. Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game, rpggeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
38. James Bond 007, rpggeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
39. Mouse Guard, rpggeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
40. The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Adventure Game,, accessed March 10, 2013, http://index.
41. The Two Towers Roleplaying Adventure Game,, accessed March 10, 2013, http://index.rpg.
42. The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild,, accessed March 10, 2013, http://index.
43. A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: A Game of Thrones Edition, rpggeek, accessed March 10, 2013,
44. Starship Troopers, rpggeek, accessed March 10, 2013, http://rpggeek. com/rpgitem/57565/starship-
45. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness,, accessed March 10, 2013, http://index.
46. Hunger Games: Survival Night was a teen program held at the Middle Tyger Library in Lyman SC.
47. Leah, Hunger Games Teen Program, Creative Library Programs (blog), May 4, 2011, http://creativeli html.
48. The Hunger Games larp (Live Action Role Play), Bookmarked! (blog), September 23, 2009, http://
49. J. P. Porcaro, The Pokemon Generation, School Library Journal 56, no. 5 (May 2010): 2425, Academic
Search Complete, EBSCOhost (50337474).
50. Erin Helmrich and Elizabeth Schneider, Create, Relate, & Pop @ the Library: Services & Programs for
Teens & Tweens (New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2011), 126.
51. Ibid., 127.
52. Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards, accessed February 21, 2013, html.
53. Eric Berlin, About the Books, The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, accessed February 26, 2013,
http://winstonbreen. com/index. html.

Berlin, Eric. About the Books. The Puzzling World of Winston Breen. Accessed February 26, 2013. http://
BoardGameGeek. Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. Arkham Horror. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://boardgamegeek.
BoardGameGeek. Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://
boardgamegeek. com/boardgame/130911/batman-gotham-city-strategy-game.
BoardGameGeek. Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game. rpggeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://rpggeek.
BoardGameGeek. Dantes Inferno. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. DC Comics Deck-Building Game. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://
BoardGameGeek. Dune. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. A Game of Thrones (First Edition). BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://
BoardGameGeek. Game of Thrones. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://videogamegeek.
108 Games in Libraries

BoardGameGeek. Goosebumps: Horrorland. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://videogame

geek. com/video game/115779/goosebumps-horrorland.
BoardGameGeek. James Bond 007. rpggeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
http://boardgamegeek. com/boardgame/129437/legendary-a-marvel-deck-building-game.
BoardGameGeek. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 14. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://video
gamegeek. com/video game/74638/lego-harry-potter-years-14.
BoardGameGeek. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 57. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://video
gamegeek. com/video game/112676/lego-harry-potter-years-57.
BoardGameGeek. Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10,
2013. game/130126/lego-the-lord-of-the-rings-the-video-game.
BoardGameGeek. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http:// game/71145/lego-star-wars-the-complete-saga.
BoardGameGeek. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://videogame
BoardGameGeek. Mouse Guard. rpggeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. The Pillars of the Earth. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://boardgame
BoardGameGeek. Pokemon Battle Revolution. VideogameGeek. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://videogame game/74419/pokemon-battle-revolution.
BoardGameGeek. Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island. BoardGameGeek. Accessed March
10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: A Game of Thrones Edition. rpggeek. Accessed
March 10, 2013.
BoardGameGeek. Starship Troopers. rpggeek. Accessed March 10, 2013.
Gallaway, Beth. Game On!: Gaming at the Library. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2009.
Helmrich, Erin, and Elizabeth Schneider. Create, Relate, & Pop @ the Library: Services & Programs for Teens
& Tweens. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2011.
Levine, Jenny. The Games People Play. American Libraries 39, no. 7 (August 2008): 38. Academic Search
Complete, EBSCOhost (33573014).
Neiburger, Eli. Gamers in the Library?: The Why, What, and How of Video game Tournaments for All Ages.
Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2007.
Nicholson, Scott. Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages. Medford, NJ:
Information Today, 2010.
Nicholson, Scott. Go Back to Start: Gathering Baseline Data about Gaming in Libraries. Library Review
58, no. 3 (August 2009): 20314.
Porcaro, J. P. The Pokemon Generation. School Library Journal 56, no. 5 (May 2010): 2425. Academic
Search Complete, EBSCOhost (50337474).
Skotos Tech. The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Adventure Game. Accessed March 10, 2013.
Skotos Tech. The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild. Accessed March 10, 2013.
Skotos Tech. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Accessed March 10, 2013.
Skotos Tech. The Two Towers Roleplaying Adventure Game. Accessed March 10, 2013. http://index.
Snow, Cason. Tabletop Fantasy rpgs: Tips for Introducing Role-Playing Games in Your Library. School
Library Journal 55, no. 1 ( January 2009): 2425. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (35992172).
Weber, Susan. Board Games Based on Books. Love to Know Board Games. Accessed February 21, 2013.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards. Accessed February 21, 2013.
Welcome to My Multiverse:
Gaming for the Most Voracious
and Eclectic of Avid Readers

Let the Games Begin

In the past, not many libraries were game-friendly, though thankfully, these days most
are dragging themselves into the 21st century, albeit in some cases resembling tubercular ele-
phants on the search for a convenient place to lay their bones. In the past, libraries may have
had the odd chessboard or Monopoly set stuffed away in the childrens section with the toys,
as if the librarians were just a little embarrassed to be perceived as providers of something
so not-literary. But perhaps it is time or past time to redene the concept of literacy.
Maybe, just maybe, its more than simply reading and writing. Literacy can certainly be
dened at its most basic as working with a set of symbols, learning how to derive meaning
from the symbols, and applying a set of rules to manipulate the symbols.1 In reading and
writing, the symbols are letters, numbers, punctuation and spacing. But knowing how to
use and manipulate these symbols is the underlying meaning of literacy in all its forms.
A player engaging in any kind of gaming is constantly, as she or he advances through
the learning curve, developing and using these old and new symbols. Players think critically
and analyze information, make informed decisions and apply knowledge to new situations
when interacting with the games setting and cultures, share knowledge and weigh moral
consequences of their actions, and participate in creating stories that last beyond the end of
the session. By addressing these standards and demonstrating the direct link between gaming
and learning, RPGs can gain support from administrators and teachers.2 In other words, lit-
eracy: its not just reading anymore. Sometimes, shockingly, it can well be gaming.
Games fall into a vast list of categories, divisions, sub-divisions and, no doubt, hemi-
semi-demi divisions. Is this particular adventure game real time, text or graphic? Is that
specic role-playing game western, fantasy, tactical, rogue or sandbox? Classic board game,
role-playing game, video game, online multi-person game?3 Can a librarian whose main
focus is, by denition, books use games to entice and encourage gamers to sample the
joys of simple reading and, dare it be suggested, research? In other words, are gamers a lost
cause when it comes to the old-school joys of reading books?
The answer, of course, is no. Games, precisely like books and movies and comics and
television shows, inspire loyalty and devotion in their fans and followers. Their appeal could
not be clearer or more obvious. Games, like the aforementioned books, movies et al., are
ctional universes which allow their players to enter into alternate realities. Gamers, by
their very nature, seek to escape into other worlds, realms, ideas.

110 Games in Libraries

But wait. Isnt that the very denition of reading? And not merely in the sense of escaping
into ction, for there are multitudes of other worlds to wander into based securely on fact
and science. Ask any ten-year old boy or, in my own case, girl about the joys of dinosaurs,
or space, or digging up artifacts to piece together the distant or not so distant past.
But what is there for the most voracious and fanatic of readers in the vast variety of
genres and areas of gaming? The reader who devours a particular genre, be it mystery, science
ction, or the various permutations of fantasy? In other words, the reader who enjoys escaping
into a ctional universe. According to that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, a ctional
universe is a self-consistent ctional setting with elements that differ from the real world.
It may also be called an imagined, constructed or ctional realm.4 And these worlds appear
in books, naturally, but cant they also serve as the basis for games?
Let us consider two books that address the reader marked by excessive enthusiasm
and often intense uncritical devotion, also known as the fanatic5 reader. Either of these
books would be excellent bases for a new gaming paradigm: Libriomancer, a 2012 urban
fantasy by Jim C. Hines, and The Number of the Beast, classic science ction by Robert A.
Heinlein, released a generation earlier in 1980.

Romancing the Book

In Jim C. Hines Libriomancer,6 the main character Isaac Vainio is a libriomancer, a
member of the secret organization founded ve centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Lib-
riomancers are gifted, at times of dire danger and distress, with the very useful magical
ability to reach into books and draw forth objects. There are limitations, naturally, primarily
that the object retrieved must t through the dimensions of the open book. This prevents
the libriomancers from bringing forth, for example, Panzer tanks or Gatling guns or starships
or trained intelligent wolf packs who howl in eardrum-shattering harmonics. Smaller
weapons, devices and tools, however, are fair game. One of the inherent dangers of the lib-
riomancer ability is that the unwary or untrained practitioner may accidentally bring forth
something she or he did not expect. One may reach into a book and get bitten by a vampire
or a zombie. Suddenly, a plague erupts, or a deadly sub-class of no-longer-imaginary crea-
tures shares the planet. Or perhaps a fearful futuristic gene-spliced microbe hitches a ride
on some high-tech gun as it is snatched through the portal. Oops, another plague; call the
CDC stat.
So the concept behind the ability of the libriomancer is a delightful basis for a book-
lovers game, with powers available to the readers who are able to recognize powerful artifacts,
in any book they might have read that bears repeating: in any book they might have
read and then withdrawing that artifact for use in the game. The dangers inherent to the
same books must also be considered. While this may be a bit too esoteric for readers who
tend to stay within one particular genre, for those who read widely it could open up a vista
of integrating a huge range of different books into one scenario. As a plus, this game has
no need to be set in some pseudo-medieval world, or within a zombie-infected underground
city, or a castle full of shooters; literally any time or location can be used, past or present
or future, Earth or Alpha Centauri or Barsoom.
The mention of Barsoom, as an early example of science ction, leads me inexorably
to Robert A. Heinlein, the dean of science ction, winner of awards too numerous to men-
tion, and writer of what has been called the Competent Man (and Woman).
Welcome to My Multiverse (McAbee) 111

A Beast of a Number
Robert Anson Heinlein was born in 1906 and died in 1988. In a writing career that
extended over fty years, he published one award-winning book after another and inuenced
not only writers and fans, but scientists and engineers. His work ranged from fantasy to
hard science ction to social commentary, and his attitudes towards the abilities of women
were years ahead of his time.7 In his 1980 book The Number of the Beast, he not only tells
the exciting adventures of four very different, brilliant people working together, but he also
displays his own love for the writer/creator of powerful and consuming ctional worlds.8
The denition of a ctional crossover is the placement of two or more otherwise dis-
crete ctional characters, settings, or universes into the context of a single story. They can
arise from legal agreements between the relevant copyright holders, unauthorized efforts by
fans, or common corporate ownership.9 Heinleins book draws from his love of the earliest
ction which must have inuenced him as a child: L. Frank Baums Oz books, Lewis Carrolls
Wonderland, Edgar Rice Burroughss Barsoom series, Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels and
others. Who, once having read of these places and times, would not want to visit them?
Heinlein shows how it might be possible in Beast. First of all, his character, brilliant
mathematician Jacob Burroughs, redenes mathematically the Biblical 666 into (6,6)6 i.e.
six to the sixth power, taken to the sixth power, or 1.03144 1028 or something more than
ten million sextillion.10 Big number, yes, and far too big for most of us to grasp, but what
he does with the number is even bigger. He posits that the original Number of the Beast was
instead a mathematical equation which told or foretold? the number of actual universes,
not in our usual concept of four dimensions, but extrapolated into six. I will spare you the
mathematical concept of six dimensions at right angles to each other mainly because I
dont understand it myself and cant really picture its non-Euclidian ideas but the main
characters in Beast have the use of a continua craft controlled by a self-aware A.I. articial
intelligence computer. In this craft, whose name is Gay Deceiver, the four main characters,
on the run for their lives, end up visiting the aforementioned Barsoom, Liliputia, Wonderland,
Oz and other places, including ending up in a world created by Heinlein himself.11
For the primary concept in The Number of the Beast is that a creator of ction, if he/she
is powerful enough, builds an actual world somewhere within that (66)6 number of universes.
Whew! Okay, away from the math, fun in and of itself of course, and back to the fun
of creating worlds. If one takes Heinleins concept and looks at it in a gaming perspective,
a limitless or, at least, something along the order of ten million sextillion, which is close
enough to limitless for me number of possible worlds are available for visitation.
And for the gleaning and harvesting of powers, tools, weapons, ideas, concepts, loca-
tions, characters, dangers, adventures.

Books and Beasts

Two books, Libriomancer and The Number of the Beast, their publication dates separated
by over thirty years, are by writers with very different backgrounds, the books genres urban
fantasy versus science ction. (In a geeky aside, the father of the pulp magazine, Hugo
Gernsback12 insisted we call what we now know as science ction, the less melliuous sci-
entiction; the result was, of course, to no avail and to his lasting disappointment though,
to throw him a bone, the biggest award in science ction writing is called the Hugo after
112 Games in Libraries

him. End of geeky aside.) Now, what did the writers of Libriomancer and The Number of
the Beast both share? Love of books, naturally; but let us dene that even further to the love
of sheer and unadulterated storytelling.
Scott Nicholson, associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Information
Studies, suggests that we need to reframe the way we think about game playing in libraries
and look on it as a distinct form of storytelling.
Storytelling is a key service in public and school libraries. A good storyteller will engage the lis-
tener by opening the door to another world. Through the eyes of the character in the story, those
listening can mentally engage with a different time and place, exploring decisions and roles that
they would not encounter in their everyday lives. Those listening to the story in the library may
or may not check out books, but that was not the reason for the storytelling program. Story-
telling creates a comforting and inviting environment for people to spend time in the library.13
Nicholson goes on to point out, Gaming is participatory storytelling. Unlike with a xed
story, games allow players to create the story as they go along and interact with each
other as characters in this story and many times these interactions improve the relationship
between the players outside the game, even crossing traditional social boundaries. As it
allows the players to engage in different activities, gaming can improve the different types
of mental and physical skills that are difcult to engage in other ways.14
Participatory storytelling. Chew on that for a moment. Instead of an omnipotent sto-
ryteller seated before a group of listeners, now we have, through interpolating this into a
gaming scenario, a more democratic and more equal participation between the teller and
the listener. A shared experience in which the role of storyteller can now be as full of
surprises as the role of listener.
But how to design such a game? Lets give it a name, rst: Welcome to My Multiverse.
Then lets take a shot at designing it, with the able assistance of Christina Yu, a lecturer in
English at Kean University and Southern Connecticut State and technology blogger for

Gaming for Book Lovers: Welcome to My Multiverse

We have the concepts: from Libriomancer, the ability to withdraw any needed object
from an available book; from The Number of the Beast, the ability to physically travel, in
your trusty continua craft, to any well-constructed ctional world. Now how do we turn
these into a game for voracious readers?
Christina Yu provides a seven-step program which we can follow, providing our own
concepts gleaned from our two books in question, and our vast available selection of books
from which to draw weapons, ideas and locations.

Step 1: Align Game Goals with Cognitive Work

It may seem obvious, but a good game should be aligned with productive mental work.
To score points, move on to higher levels, acquire badges, or gain status, players should be
required to solve puzzles, demonstrate mastery of some skill, or better yet, demonstrate a
sophisticated understanding of relationships between different parts of a system. In other
words, it isnt enough that the game be about something educational the Civil War, the
Renaissance, or the digestive system. In the pursuit of game goals, players should be encour-
Welcome to My Multiverse (McAbee) 113

aged to assess the relationship between action and feedback, and this sort of analysis should
facilitate a systemic understanding of information.16
The relationship between action and feedback: how can we utilize this concept to
create our game, especially for the readers who already have a deep knowledge of their own
area of expertise? For example, the reader who has read widely in fantasy would surely have
an edge over the reader who is more mystery or science ction based, if the location decided
upon for a particular of the game is a fantasy world.
But consider this: our Multiverse game is set up to allow for the insertion of a wide variety
of genres and locales. Thus, the fantasy reader, even if set down in, for example, Sherlock
Holmess London of 1890, could quite legitimately decide to use a magical sword or ring against
the depredations and dangers from Spring-heeled Jack.17 Or a mystery reader who wished to
query Holmes himself could simply drop a note through a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles
with the question on it and receive a reply by the morning post, even if that mystery reader is
currently residing in Barsoom with Captain John Carter of Virginia and Mars.18

Step 2: Make Your Game Adaptive

A game wouldnt be that much fun if the outcome of the game didnt vary depending
on the decisions you made. This step of the game-building process may be the most chal-
lenging. After youve sketched out a rough vision of the game world as a system, you need
to develop hundreds if not thousands (or more) of potential paths for players. You can
achieve this by building in many opportunities for players to demonstrate skill, make deci-
sions, and reect on the relationship between action and feedback.19
Building in many opportunities for players to demonstrate skills? Thats pretty much
a given in Multiverse, isnt it? We, as the Multiverse designers, of course, must have a fairly
broad recognition of a wide variety of books, but the advantage to both designer and player
is the ongoing opportunity to learn more and more about more and more books. In other
words, my denition of heaven.
Any locale in every range of ction sounds unworkably broad. But the opportunity to
utilize any locale might instead add an overarching sense of freedom to the gaming concept.

Step 3: Build in Opportunities for Suspense,

Conict, and Complication
A story without complications is hardly a story at all. In a story, complications tend
to stem from character and from the idiosyncrasies of the environment (a storm or a war,
for instance). In a game, complications can stem from these and other factors. After all, a
game is much more than a workbook or problem set come to life; it should also generate
suspense through unpredictable situations. The game may do this by throwing you a curve-
ball (inicting a natural disaster upon your city, for example) or by randomizing outcomes
(so that every time you visit the king, you dont know whether youll get thrown in the
dungeon or given a thousand pounds). Games are much more challenging and interesting
when there are multiple goals present to seduce players and divert their attention.20
Challenging. Interesting. Multiple goals. Already, were engrossed. And for the avid
readers in any eld, it would be fascinating to use that knowledge which is acquired through
our favorite game: reading in our most precious genres. Yes, some players would be more
interested in showing off their erudition that in helping others. But a team of players could
114 Games in Libraries

share information, support each other, and no doubt throw out new titles and ideas for
other readers in the same genres.

Step 4: Make Sure the Game Is Simple in the Right Way

As Squire notes in his book Video Games & Learning21 games are often criticized by
educators for being inaccurate or biased. Even something we consider highly accurate, like
an anatomical diagram of the human body in a biology textbook, for example, only shows
one system at a time. Even diagrams that do show all the systems in one place are inherently
simplied, since they do not show every blood vessel, tissue, or cell. And if they did, they
would cease to be illustrative. As Squire argues, models, gures, and diagrams are useful in
part because of whats not there. Games are simplied for the same reason: so that the rela-
tionships between variables become apparent and so that after a certain amount of activity,
players walk away having learned something.
The key is to nd the right balance of simplicity (for the sake of illustration) and complexity
(for the sake of suspense-generating complication and conict). Thinking of the game like a
story might help. Reading a bare-bones outline of a story plot is hardly interesting. But pad a
story with too much description and unnecessary action, and you bore and confuse the reader.
The story metaphor cuts in other directions as well. Just as you would not introduce
too many subplots at once in a novel, you should not confuse the players by providing so
many goals and opportunities that they are unable to focus. As Squire suggests, you should
consider unveiling certain parts of the game only after players hit specied triggers: A key
[World of Warcraft] design decision may be not starting newbies in large, populated cities
but instead waiting until they had experienced core game systems, such as combat, quests,
and grouping, before lifting the veil and showing the games depth.22 Not only does this
design strategy focus the players attention, it also heightens suspense and investment in the
game, since players get more excited to enter a new world if its built up as a reward.23
Thinking of the game as a story. I believe weve already addressed that several times,
havent we? In our Multiverse, the story can be set anywhere and contain anything. Again,
this is far too broad; we would be, in a sense, introducing too many subplots, as Yu points
out. We need to look for a progression. I like Squires suggestion of starting with combat,
quests and grouping, before lifting the veil and showing the games depth, but how exactly
to set that up is our rst quest.

Step 5: Design Your Game to Yield

Both Quick Wins and Long-Term Rewards
Keep players hooked by providing quick, satisfying wins. At the same time, you
shouldnt give away all your cards at once. Build in an incentive for long-term commitment
by teasing players with a sense of whats to come, building a compelling storyline or giving
players some reason to take pride in their progress (whether thats by conferring expert status
or some badge of success).24
Quick and satisfying wins should not be a problem. For any Multiverse player, who
will be by denition well-versed in her or his own area of expertise, the opportunity to
utilize the knowledge gleaned from her reading will be the rst, primary and satisfying win.
But for the long term? What avid reader of a particular genre what fan would turn away
from the chance to learn more?
Welcome to My Multiverse (McAbee) 115

A problem is presented, whether it be a social problem, a quest or the ever-popular

zombie apocalypse. We address solving that problem while learning more about our
favorite genre and perhaps, just maybe, nding out we have a new favorite genre.

Step 6: Embrace the Social Possibilities

Encouraging interaction between players of different levels will promote a positive,
inclusive sensibility. Many critics of traditional schooling point to the articiality of segre-
gating students by age, arguing that this practice does not prepare students for the real
world, where people of different abilities often work side by side towards a common goal.
Educational gaming expert Kurt Squire articulates the potential for games to illustrate a
new model for learning: Games excel at promoting different levels of expertise, and edu-
cators might embrace, rather than apologize for, this capacity.
Think about how to design your game to promote this kind of interaction. You might,
for example, build in opportunities for players to be deemed experts and then insert
opportunities for these experts to share their wisdom. In gaming, advice tends to come in
action-specic terms (stay close to the ground to avoid predators or save your bonuses
for the end), which is inherently more productive than focusing on intrinsic ability (how
smart or slow you are).25
Naturally, not all gamers will be at the same level, in any game. Those whove played
before have advantages unavailable to the newbie. But one benet of Multiverse is that the
player is already, in many ways, an expert in her eld. Those of us whove read extensively
within a certain genre, who love that genre, and who are always ready to learn more about
that genre, have acquired a great deal of knowledge and expertise, whether we realize it or
not. Just as a native speaker of a language may not necessarily know as much about grammar
as a student who is involved in learning the language, so might an avid reader not be aware
of precisely how much he knows about his favorite genre.
Interaction between players is always an important part of any multi-player game.
Advice, acquired wisdom, knowledge in action-specic terms should bond the players
even closer than their shared love of a particular genre.

Step 7: Encourage Critique and Design

If you can stimulate players to talk about your game, you know youve done your job
as a designer and that youve captured the imagination of your players. Take discussion one
step further by letting your game universe become self-sustaining and allowing players to
produce badges, prizes, or other items that get woven into the game world.
Design itself is cognitively challenging and productive work, so, if you have the technical
chops, you might want to consider making design itself an end goal for students. Allow stu-
dents to tinker with design variables themselves and produce their own versions of the game.
The benet here is that the work appeals to students of different learning styles. Students
who are aesthetically minded might work on enhancing the graphical presentation of the
characters and the environment, while students who think like storytellers might reect on
the suspense and mystery in the game and help rewrite any ctional elements.26
The interactive element of this suggestion is an important step for the success of a
game like Multiverse. Every player brings his or her already-acquired knowledge and expert-
ise, simply from being an avid reader of a particular genre. The collaboration is taken to a
newer, deeper, broader level.
116 Games in Libraries

Game-Building and Design, Part Deux

There is an excellent article Making the Gameplay Matter: Designing Modern Edu-
cational Tabletop Games by Scott Nicholson27 on specically educational game design. It
provides a real nut-and-bolts description of game design or perhaps more of a from soup
to nuts description with some interesting examples of board games. And really, who
would not line up to play a game called Fische Fluppen Frikadellen ?
He suggests that the focus on question/answer model of game-playing spends too much
wasted time on things like die-rolling before getting to the focus of the game which is
answering the question.28 A different way of approaching the experience, which could prove
more engaging and motivating, might be the trivia game model, with no time wasted in
rolling dice.
However, a major problem with this model is that only one person is answering while
others sit and wait. As Nicholson states:
One key problem with this model is that only one player is engaged with the game activity
at any time, so developing a mechanism that involves more players can allow everyone to be
more involved with the game. Having all players write down guesses at the same time is an
improvement, but the commercial game Wits and Wagers29 takes this a step further. In Wits
and Wagers, players all write down a guess to a question with a numerical answer, and then all
answers are revealed and players place bets on which answer is closest.30
This denitely shakes up the normal method. Instead of one player doing the work with
the others waiting, twiddling their thumbs, for their turn, this involves all the players.
Everyone is engaged in the game at the same time.
Nicholson goes on to point out, The game experience is bigger than just the game;
it includes the game, the interactions between the players, and the setting in which the
game is played.31 These all coalesce to create the total game experience.
Any game in which one, some or several players are sidelined cannot help but be boring.
Nicholson describes a German game called Fische Fluppen Frikadellen, in which multiple
copies of the game can be played by groups of players. Each copy of the game represents
a different town with a market for goods, but players can sail to other towns by getting up
and changing tables to take advantage of better prices elsewhere.32
Nicholson discusses the importance of a design document in any game, to document
all of these decisions so that anyone involved with the game can see the core decisions made
about the game and why. This document is also valuable as a justication tool, so the
purpose of the game can be defended against later challenges, and justications for design
decisions can easily be articulated.33
After the design document has been eshed out, a prototype is created. It can be and,
indeed, should be quite basic: index cards, poster board, dice. Then the playtesters should
be brought onboard, for the game, still in its most basic state, must be played and played
again to work out design and structure bugs. Playtesters should not be concerned with
winning the game, but of improving the gaming experience: seeing what works, what
does not, what needs to be added, what needs to be eliminated.34
There are risks involved in this section of game design, however. For example, there
may be the temptation to correct a problem by adding to the game. Adding a rules exception
or a new mechanism may solve one problem, but many others can be added.35 Keeping
the game as simple as possible is usually the better choice. After the game is complete, feed-
back from players will be useful for clarity and efciency.36
Welcome to My Multiverse (McAbee) 117

Welcome to My Multiverse
Weve been blathering on about our game, Multiverse, but where is it? Show me the
board, show me the game bible, show me the characters and their attributes and strengths
and weaknesses, show me the history and geography of our gaming world.
First of all, though, what kind of game is Multiverse? Not a video game, of course,
but not a board game either, unless we decide to create a board or cards or patterns or other
accoutrements for our game. But Multiverse is, in essence, a storytelling game.

Storytelling Games
A storytelling game is a game where two or more persons collaborate on telling a
spontaneous story. Usually, each player takes care of one or more characters in the developing
story. Some games in the tradition of role-playing games require one participant to take the
roles of the various supporting characters, as well as introducing non-character forces (for
example, a ood), but other systems dispense with this gure and distribute this function
among all players.37
But there is a further renement of the storytelling game which is even closer to the
concept of Multiverse the Literary Role-Playing Game. This game is similar to collaborative
ction, in which stories are created and written by two or more authors The players con-
tribute to an on-going story with dened parameters but no narrator or directing force. A
moderator may oversee the gamers to ensure that the rules, guidelines and parameters of
the gaming world are being upheld, but otherwise the writers are free to interact as players
in an improvisational play. Many of these Literary RPGs are fan-ction based, such as
Tolkiens Middle-earth, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Twilight, any number of anime and manga
sources, or they are simply based in thematic worlds such as the mythologies of Ancient
Greece, fairy tales, the Renaissance or science ction. These games place a greater emphasis
on writing skill and storytelling ability than on any sense of competition driven outcome.38
Literary RPGs can be set in any of the worlds listed and more. But Multiverse can be
set in all of them. At the same time. The storytellers present the setting and ground for the
story. Recall that in a story like Multiverse, the ground can, quite literally, be
anywhere/anytime. And also consider that the role of storyteller can be taken on by a single
player, or by more than one or by all the players at the same time.
Chaos? Perhaps. In fact, probably. Nobody promised this was going to be easy. The most
popular modern storytelling games originated as sub-genres of role-playing games, where the
game rules and statistics are far less important, are in fact de-emphasized, in favor of creating
a believable story and immersive experience for all involved. So while in a conventional game
the announcement that ones character is going to leap over a seven-meters-wide canyon will
be greeted with the request to roll a number of dice, a player in a storytelling game who
wishes to have a character perform a similar feat will have to convince the others (especially
the storyteller) why it is both probable and keeping within the established traits of their char-
acter to successfully do so.39
Probable and keeping within the established traits? Well, if a player wishes her character to
use seven-league boots, and can point to the book where this handy footwear can be found,
then why not?
Not all players nd the storytelling style of role-playing satisfying. Many role-playing
gamers are more comfortable in a system that gives them less freedom, but where they do
118 Games in Libraries

not need to police themselves; others nd it easier to enjoy a system where a more concrete
framework of rules is already present.40 This is understandable in any gamer who is used
to rules and regulations and character sheets and strengths and attributes. But for the Mul-
tiverse player, this kind of ultimate freedom can be nothing but exhilarating. Remember,
the Multiverse gamer, as a reader, is used to itting from book to book, seeing all sorts of
scenarios played out while the characters she is reading about utilize all sorts of weapons.
We also need to consider the metaplot, which we can think of as the overall experience
within the Multiverse arc. The metaplot is the overarching storyline that binds together events
in a role-playing game. Major story events that change the world, or simply move important
non-player characters from one place to another, are part of the metaplot for a game.41
Our metaplot in any game of Multiverse will be constructed by the players themselves.
This is a storytelling game, remember? And as a card-carrying seat-of-my-pants writer, I can
swear that stories are created deep in the subconscious of all writers, then escape out the ends
of their ngers while theyre busy thinking of something else, probably whats for dinner. Im
sure that Multiverse players will experience the same phenomenon. Trust me; Im a writer.

The Multiverse Campaign

In role-playing games, a campaign is a continuing storyline or set of adventures, typ-
ically involving the same characters. The purpose of the continuing storyline is to introduce
a further aspect into the game: that of development, improvement, and growth (or degen-
eration) of the characters. In a campaign, a single session becomes a scene or an act within
an overall story arc.42
Creating a continuing storyline for Multiverse may task the most creative player. After
all, anywhere/anytime is the byword for the game. But the characters will still have to grow
and develop or degenerate and die. So setting up a campaign is an important step. Types
of Campaigns:
A hack and slash, kick in the door, or dungeon crawl campaign focuses on slaying
monsters and nding treasure. This type of campaign is often very episodic.
A wargame campaign has a focus on military and political activities, generally
involving the affairs of entire ctional states. Miniature war gaming overlaps and
dovetails into role playing at this level.
A four color or superheroic campaign is similar in avor to comic books. The
players are often given tasks, such as supervillains to stop, by their superiors.
A detective campaign focuses on mysteries that must be solved by the players or
that unfold as the game goes along. These may be ordinary crimes, or mysteries of
the paranormal.
Variants of the above campaigns are created by the players. The exact nature of these vari-
ations is usually exposed by providing a descriptive prex to the word campaign. For exam-
ple: a villain campaign where the players are the bad guys or a kiddie campaign where the
players characters are still children.43

The Character
Characters in many games are preset, with titles like mage or warrior or wizard, their
skills and abilities predetermined or, if not predetermined, then their talents must be chosen
Welcome to My Multiverse (McAbee) 119

from a narrow subset of all available traits. With this set up, the player is allowed to select
only a few skills.
Some people nd this too limiting, while others like the fact that each character necessarily
has to be specialized to ll a specic role in the group of player characters. In a class-based
system, a ghter is often not allowed any magical abilities, while mages are typically poor
ghters. When players are not required to adhere to a specic template, on the other hand,
their characters might turn out very similar even if they started from different templates a
ghter with good spell casting abilities is not much different from a spell caster with good
ghting abilities. Thus, the freedom of a class-less system requires extra caution on the side of
the players to create a diverse group of characters.44
Could this prove to be a problem in Multiverse? For example, if you recall way back at the
beginning of these meanderings, we discussed Jim C. Hiness Libriomancer. A libriomancer
can pull out weapons from any book with which he or she is familiar. If we allow our Mul-
tiverse players to endow their characters with the same skill, then wont each character have
matching abilities?
Nope. Each player in a particular campaign may well be familiar with a different genre,
and thus would withdraw different powers and abilities from different books. And those
players who read a variety of genres may their shadows never grow less! would certainly
have an advantage over those who are familiar with only one or two. But a weapon can only
be used if the player can state which book it comes from. In fact, we could go all seriously
difcult, trivial pursuit-ish in Multiverse and insist on chapter-and-verse or author and
page number? when it comes to utilization of a particular trait or ability.
But perhaps we should do the difcult immediately and save the impossible for next
game day.
In Multiverse, we have a storytelling game in which the players make up the story as
they go. Each session will have a campaign which is a part of the over-arching metaplot.
Characters may have any attribute or skill or talent, as long as the gamer can pinpoint to
nine decimal places exactly where that attribute/skill/talent appears in a book.
How hard can that be, for those of us who are in love with books?
But this wild, barbaric free-ranging beast of a game might make it difcult for the log-
ical, Dewey-decimal-loving librarian to get started. Here are some suggestions that might
make it easier.
A librarian interested in setting up the rst game of Multiverse for her library might
choose ve or seven books within a particular genre or, gasp, within several. Before beginning
the game, make sure that the players have read all the books; this wont be a problem for
avid readers, naturally, but might prove to be for those less passionate about books. (Why
three or ve or seven, I hear you asking? Actually, just because I like prime numbers, so feel
free to break away from my bias, wont you?)
Once the librarian has chosen the books from which to draw the game, the next step is:
What do we want to accomplish? Rescue a prince, pilot a starship rescue a starship,
pilot a prince? (Of course one can pilot a prince: a magic spell to inuence his behavior; a
psionic device implanted in his brain; and the ever-reliable bridle and halter. See there!)
The task might also involve a journey or some other sort of goal. In other words, its the
classic Goal: Conict: Resolution, which is really the same for any story.
120 Games in Libraries

Is the prince being held in a dank, dark dungeon, guarded by a zombie dragon with
poisonous dandruff ? Or is he being held prisoner by intelligent artichokes on a planet in a
star system whose sun is about to go nova? Time constraints are always fun, but plenty of
other obstacles are available. Simply getting to the prince might take an entire game time
frame. Or, conversely, we may already be in the castle/on the planet. And the dragon may
be the deity of the artichoke people. Remember, we can be in or travel to any sort of world
in our trusty continua craft.


Now is when we open up the opportunity for the readers of the books weve based this
particular episode on to choose their weapons and abilities. We can limit them to the ve or
seven specic books which were read as the basis of this particular campaign or we can open
up their opportunities a bit by allowing the somewhat more well-read readers to take weapons
and powers from other books. I suggest, however, that to begin with, it might be better and
simpler to only use the however-many number of books chosen as our basis. After all, the savvy
librarian Selector-of-the-Books will have chosen one or two outside the range of the genres of
the other. A player may be in the traditional dungeon, seeking the aforementioned prince
with a GPS in hand. Or another player might come armed with dandruff shampoo, thus
earning the everlasting love of the dragon, who allows the prince to depart. Or maybe not.
The important thing to keep an eye on is that, unlike games which take place in rigidly
dened times/locations, in Multiverse, any device can be used as long as the player can show
what book it appears in. Points might even be earned by somewhat more esoteric knowledge
of the specic book, such as page number or author background.
Im seeing the Master of the Multiverse, stack of books by her side, ready at the roll of a
die to grab the appropriate book, turn to the correct page, point to a sword specically designated
as a dragon-slayer, and shout out, Die, dandruff-ridden dragon, die! in ringing tones.
Well, not in the library, of course.

Common Misconceptions on Gaming and Libraries

Now weve used lots of input from everyone and everywhere, and weve created our
Multiverse game, or at least outlined the difculties in creating it. Lets set up in the library
and get started.
But do librarians take gaming seriously? Many libraries support gaming, but the response
within society has not always been positive. Is gaming, gasp, mere entertainment? Are libraries
so desperate to bring patrons in the door that theyve lost their educational edge?
Gaming has grown enormously popular since its inception, so much so that it has been
called the next new media.45 In 2007, a study was done by the Library Game Lab of Syracuse
University to learn more about the attitudes of libraries and librarians to games. The results
provided three major misconceptions about gaming and proposed a way to reframe gaming
and make it a more natural t in library services.46
The rst misconception was that gaming in libraries is a new activity. Wrong, and in
so many ways. Libraries have supported gaming for decades, even, technically, centuries.
Public libraries in England in the 1800s supported gaming and other leisure activities to lure
patrons from their local public houses. One cant help but wonder how well that worked for
Welcome to My Multiverse (McAbee) 121

them. In the United States, libraries supported chess clubs, bridge clubs and Scrabble
throughout much of the 1900s. But for most people, the concept of gaming is inextricably
linked to video gaming, which leads to the misconception that gaming is a new thing for
Misconception number two was that only a small handful of libraries supported gaming.
The study showed that more than 77 percent of libraries contacted do gaming in some way,
most commonly through games in the childrens section and through allowing patrons to
play web-based games on public computers. In other words, gaming is and has been far
more prevalent in libraries than most people realize.48
Misconception number three has to do with the base canard that libraries which allow
gaming are merely thinly disguised arcades. Until we see pinball machines and hear buzzers
and bells, this can hardly be supported. The idea of gaming in the library encompasses a
wide variety of game types: board games, card games, casual puzzle games on the Web used
to kill a few minutes before your ride arrives, educational computer games, role-playing
games, historical miniature games. Different games are appropriate for different age groups,
but can also create opportunities for all generations to come together and interact. This,
naturally, is of vast benet to the librarys role as the hub of the community. Gaming, just
like reading, can capture the imagination. Libraries can create a comfortable and inviting
environment for games.49

Myths on Gaming and Libraries

Let us go now from misconceptions about gaming in libraries to myths about same,
with some overlap.
For example, myth one is the same as misconception one above: games are new to
libraries. Avaunt thee, as some representative mythical person might say; freely translated as
Get out! The Mechanics Institute Library in San Francisco has a chess room, where a chess
club has been meeting since 1855. Most libraries have had board games for children for years.
Many summer reading programs have some sort of reading-achievement game as their basis.50
Myth number two concerns age and ageism. Games are not just for spotty boys with
poor social skills. All ages and genders play games, and a library would do well to encourage
various age groups to play together.
The third myth concerns the idea that recreational gaming is only for public libraries.
Many academic libraries nd that gaming allows students to relax from studying and form
connections with new companions, especially useful for those who might be away from
home for the rst time. Combining games with information and/or literacy programs can
engage students on several levels.51
Myth number four: libraries are turning into arcades. If a library has a story time for
children, does that make it a daycare center? If a library has vending machines, is it a restau-
rant? If a library sells books, is it a bookstore? How many times do we need to say no in
The nal myth that gets thrown around, especially in these money-concerned days, is
that gaming is expensive. Well, yes, if the library thinks it must purchase each and every
iteration of each and every game. But board games and others can be quite reasonable. And
in contrast to the price, it must be stated that gaming can provide a service to attract patrons
and students who might not normally visit a library.52
122 Games in Libraries

Three Elements of a Good Gaming Experience

If story time in a library, or indeed anywhere, is about taking a specic tale and turning
it into a larger experience, then the gaming experience is something quite similar. After all,
why even go to the library to play a game that can be played at home? With Multiverse,
the library can provide a much more inventive and immersive experience. After all, were
playing a game set in books, and were surrounded by books; you do the math.
Three major elements can be employed to turn a library-based gaming experience into
something not accessible in other locations. The rabid players of Multiverse are, by denition,
avid readers, but the number of books in a home library, sadly, cannot compare with a public
or academic library. Let us pause to shed a tear at this tragic fact, then move onward.
The rst element the library can provide is presentation. The kitchen table is ne for
spreading out a normal board game, the familial laptop will do for a quick video game x,
but the ber-game Multiverse is another matter entirely. A library can provide a designated
room but, more importantly, access to books. Miles and miles of books.
The second element, closely related to the rst, is facilitation. Librarians answer ques-
tions. A Multiverse player who is going mad trying to remember exactly which volume of
Tom Swift, Jr.53 has the rst appearance of Toms ultrasonic cycloplane volume ten, by
the way, as everyone knows has a resident expert on call. Well, perhaps not one who can
offer the answer off the top of her head, but one who can at least point the way to nding
the answer. Librarian hero to the rescue! The only problem might be keeping the librarians
from joining in the game.
Element number three is interaction. Library staff can not only answer questions and
point players in the right direction, they can also pull out the whips when excited players
start attacking each other with, hopefully, verbal sticuffs.
These three elements are tools which a library can use to turn gaming into a larger
library experience.54

Is It a Game? Or Is It Arrogance?
Is a game even slightly similar to Multiverse possible? Are delusions of grandeur
involved? Does anyone believe that there are enough avid readers, with enough recall of
their favorite books, who would be interested in such a game? Or would these voracious
readers simply brush the concept aside and get back to the two most important things in
life, which are, of course, reading and more reading.
Whether or not anything like Multiverse is doable in any strict sense, the sheer concept
is certainly a love letter to books and writers. Gaming is storytelling in many ways. Story-
telling is what writers do. Writers create believable worlds hopefully. Gamers inhabit these
Welcome to my Multiverse.

1. Scott Nicholson, Gaming and Literacy: Exploring the Connections, Digitale Bibliotheek 2, no. 9
(2010): 42.
2. Cason Snow, Tabletop Fantasy RPGs: Tips for Introducing Role-Playing Games in Your Library,
School Library Journal 55, no. 1 ( January 2009): 2425.
Welcome to My Multiverse (McAbee) 123

3. Role Playing Game, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,

4. Multiverse, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
5. Fanatic, Websters Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springeld, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1985), 448.
6. Jim C. Hines, Libriomancer (New York: Daw, 2012).
7. William H. Patterson Jr., Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century (New York: Tom Doherty
Associates, 2010).
8. Robert A. Heinlein, The Number of the Beast, (New York: Fawcett Columbine,1980).
9. Fictional Crossovers, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
10. Heinlein, The Number of the Beast.
11. Ibid.
12. Hugo Gernsback, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
13. Scott Nicholson, Reframing Gaming, American Libraries, 39, no. 7 (2008): 5051, http://library
14. Ibid.
15. Christina Yu, How to Design an Educational Game, Knewton Education (blog), November 28, 2011,
16. Ibid.
17. Spring-Heeled Jack, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
18. John Carter of Mars, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
19. Yu, How to Design an Educational Game.
20. Ibid.
21. Kurt Squire, Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age (New
York: Teachers College Press, 2011).
22. Yu, How to Design an Educational Game.
23. Ibid.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid.
26. Ibid.
27. Scott Nicholson, Making the Gameplay Matter: Designing Modern Educational Tabletop Games,
Knowledge Quest 40, no. 1 (2011): 6065.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Ibid.
35. Ibid.
36. Scott Nicholson, Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages, (Medford,
NJ: Information Today, 2010).
37. Storytelling Game, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
38. Ibid.
39. Ibid.
40. Ibid.
41. Metaplot, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
42. Campaign: Role-Playing Games, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
43. Ibid.
44. Player Character, Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
45. Nicholson, Reframing Gaming.
46. Ibid.
47. Ibid.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid.
50. Scott Nicholson, Games in Libraries: Myths and Realities, NYLA Bulletin 56, no. 4 (2010): 3.
51. Ibid.
124 Games in Libraries

52. Ibid.
53. Tom Swift Jr., Wikipedia, accessed April 10, 2013,
54. Scott Nicholson, Creating a Gaming Experience in Libraries, Digitale Bibliotheek 1 no. 5 (2009): 11.

Campaign: Role-Playing Games. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Fanatic. Websters Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springeld, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1985, 448.
Fictional Crossovers. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Heinlein, Robert A. The Number of the Beast. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1980.
Hines, Jim C. Libriomancer. New York: Daw, 2012.
Hugo Gernsback. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
John Carter of Mars. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Metaplot. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Multiverse. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Nicholson, Scott. Creating a Gaming Experience in Libraries. Digitale Bibliotheek 1 no. 5 (2009): 11.
Nicholson, Scott. Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages. Medford, NJ:
Information Today, Inc., 2010.
Nicholson, Scott. Games in Libraries: Myths and Realities. NYLA Bulletin 56, no. 4 (2010): 3.
Nicholson, Scott. Gaming and Literacy: Exploring the Connections. Digitale Bibliotheek 2, no. 9 (2010):
Nicholson, Scott. Making the Gameplay Matter: Designing Modern Educational Tabletop Games. Knowledge
Quest 40, no. 1 (2011): 6065.
Nicholson, Scott. Reframing Gaming. American Libraries, 39, no. 7 (2008): 5051. http://librarygamelab.
org/reframinggaming. pdf.
Patterson, William H. Jr. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century. New York: Tom Doherty Associates,
Player Character. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Role Playing Game. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Snow, Cason. Tabletop Fantasy RPGs: Tips for Introducing Role-Playing Games in Your Library. School
Library Journal 55, no. 1 ( January 2009): 2425.
Spring-Heeled Jack. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Squire, Kurt. Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age. New York:
Teachers College Press, 2011.
Storytelling Game. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Tom Swift Jr. Wikipedia. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Yu, Christina. How to Design an Educational Game. Knewton Education (blog). November 28, 2011. http://
In the Library with the
Candlestick: Adapting Clue for
the Special Collections Library

Wilson Library: A Temple of Learning

UNC-Chapel Hills Wilson Special Collections Library enjoys a stellar reputation among
the researchers who value its rare and unique materials. The Library comprises ve collections.
The North Carolina Collection, the largest assemblage of library materials related to a single
state, documents the history and culture of North Carolina in books, pamphlets, maps, pho-
tographs, museum artifacts, and more. The Rare Book Collection, home to over 160,000
printed volumes, specializes in such wide-ranging areas as the history and development of the
book, Spanish and Catalan drama, Latin American history and literature, the Russian Diaspora,
and 20th-century avant-garde and counterculture publications. The Southern Folklife Col-
lection, a powerhouse in supporting the study of regional popular culture, documents Southern
musical and oral traditions through its vast holdings of sound recordings, moving images,
photographs, posters, and manuscripts. The Southern Historical Collection, one of the nations
foremost holdings of manuscripts related to the American South, contains more than 16 million
primary source documents. And the University Archives and Records Management Services
is the primary repository for the historically valuable records of the University, providing pres-
ervation and access for the materials that tell the story of the institutions history and growth.1
In addition to supporting researchers, Wilson Library also contains three changing
exhibit spaces that together serve as the home for ten exhibits each year, with recent exhibit
topics including the history and development of the banjo, the politics and culture of the
Maya people in ancient and modern times, and the story of the now-extinct Carolina para-
keet in art and literature. The collections and exhibits also support about two dozen public
programs each year, from day-long symposiums on African American genealogy and schol-
arly lectures, to readings by prominent North Carolina authors and evening performances
by the regions best musicians. And yet, many undergraduate students at UNC regard Wilson
with indifference or even trepidation. The buildings daunting faade, dispersed layout, and
rareed atmosphere can seem intimidating or uninteresting to students accustomed to the
more informal, convivial environment of the House Undergraduate Library.
Wilson Library is a four-story Beaux Arts style building completed (in its original
form) in 1929. A Corinthian portico extends from its front, adorned with six columns. Its
limestone facing is punctuated with tall, arched windows. Beyond the portico, the building
rises to a majestic Roman dome.

126 Games in Libraries

Front view of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library at UNCChapel Hill. This
Beaux-arts-style building sits on Polk Place, one of the campus main quads. Its limestone
faade, Corinthian portico, and grand Roman dome make it one of the most ornate buildings
on campus (photograph by Ildar Sagdejev. License: Creative Commons BY-SA [http://com]).

The grandeur of its exterior often inspires writers, speakers, and everyday visitors to
lofty statements about its visual and symbolic impact. At a ceremony marking the Librarys
75th anniversary, University Librarian Emeritus Joe A. Hewitt said:
When I came to Chapel Hill in 1956 as a naive, wide-eyed freshman, the one thing that
impressed me most about the campus was the Library. The size and elegance of this building
and the massive collections inside stood in stark contrast to anything I had known in my
hometown of Shelby, NC. It was in the Library that I began to realize the difference between
the University and high school, and between the cozy but restricted world of my hometown
and the vast world of the mind as embodied in a great research university. Wilson Library
became for me the physical symbol of the Universitys commitment to excellence in education
and scholarship.2
To access Wilsons front doors, a visitor must climb a wide set of sixteen stairs, and even
then, on the buildings threshold, it doesnt yield any secrets. Its front doors are made of
heavy wood, with not even the smallest window to give a preview of whats inside.
But if the buildings faade inspires high expectations, its interior doesnt disappoint.
Wilsons lobby, a high-ceilinged space hung with brass chandeliers, greets its visitors with
stone oors and four columns that echo the features of the portico. At the far side of the
lobby, the place where the central travertine staircase splits in two is guarded by the Daniel
French statue The Spirit of Life (a smaller casting of the original work in Saratoga Springs).
Of all the buildings elegant interior spaces, its second-oor Grand Reading Room is
the most renowned, with its echoing domed rotunda, Italian chandeliers, and immense
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 127

The Wilson Library Grand Reading Room, on the buildings third oor, is beloved by visitors
for its rich appointments. The central rotunda, supported by immense Corinthian columns,
is anked by two long wings lined with wooden shelving (photograph courtesy Stephen
128 Games in Libraries

Corinthian columns. Arched windows line the long side of the room, which is lined with
wooden shelving and contains rows of long, lamp-lit desks. What you see upon walking
into Wilson is a classic temple of learning library. What you dont see, at least not in any
great numbers, are undergraduates.

House Library: A Hive of Activity

Wilsons next-door neighbor, R.B. House Undergraduate Library, couldnt be more
different. House is a squat, blocky, concrete building constructed in 1972. Its front doors
are accessed after passing through a deep, low, cavernous portico that seems to serve only
to block the daylight. But the buildings uninspiring exterior belies the lively space just
inside the doors. Upon entering the building, visitors are surrounded by bulletin boards
with messy iers advertising all-night dance marathons and off-campus living options.
Unlike Wilson, with its well-dened lobby, the entry of House opens into an amorphous
space, with a circulation desk on the left, a bank of computers on the right, a technology-
rich design lab behind it, rooms of stacks opening into three of the corners, and a staircase
straight ahead. The space is well lit, and clean wooden surfaces with crisp right angles
Also unlike Wilson, House is a hive of undergraduate activity. With a reputation as
the loudest library on campus, the building features modular furnishings that can easily
suit the dynamic study style of undergrads a minute-to-minute ow that moves from a
urry of social connection to a period of in-the-zone concentration, and back again. The

Inside R.B. House Library, students occupy nearly every available space, working alone and in
groups (photograph courtesy Linda Tran).
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 129

open areas, ample seating, and technology-rich spaces facilitate and respond to the hum of
constant action, with students packing the building throughout the days and overnight.
The campus newspapers rundown of the top ten places to study cautions, Good luck nd-
ing a place to sit during nals week. The UL [House] is usually packed to the brim.3 Stu-
dents perpetual use of Houses collaborative spaces recently prompted the library to
implement new study room booking software just to manage the high demand.4
Whereas Wilson is an entirely closed-stacks library, House is abuzz with students help-
ing themselves to materials making themselves at home in every space that contains some-
thing resembling a seat, or just an available electrical outlet. The quiet, erudite world of
Wilson is less than fty yards from here, but it might as well be on another planet.

Wilson, Through Student Eyes

In the interest of nding out what undergrads think of Wilson, staff members set out
ip charts in House Library and in the main library, Davis, in the fall of 2012. Questions
written in marker asked for opinions of Wilson Library.
In response to the question When do you use Wilson Library?, one student in House
wrote, Never ever. Not even once. The reasons behind this common sentiment are revealed
by students other responses. Some comments cite a simple lack of convenience the hours
are limited, the number of electrical outlets is less than ideal. The remaining responses fall
into three broad categories: (1) Its appearance evokes Harry Potter; (2) Its formality is fright-
ening; (3) Its most notable characteristic is its silence.

A castle
Amid the range of student opinions about Wilson, the best-case scenario is that its
formality is appealing. In response to the question, Do you visit Wilson Library? Why/Why
not?, sample responses in the boy-wizard category include, Only to visit Harry Potter &
the gang, to which another respondent replied, And maybe Gandalf too. Harry Potters
name was invoked at least four times. One respondent wrote It reminds me of a castle.
On another day, staffers posted the question When do you use Wilson Library? One
response: When I am trying to pretend that campus is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry.
While its not a terrible thing for people to regard a library as a real-life extension of
a wildly popular series of books and movies, it conveys that these students consider Wilson
to be something of a novelty. Its exotic and foreign, a place you might visit to feel like
youre in a storybook. Its not home, or even home away from home.

Its scary
The ipside of the Harry Potter /Gandalf scenario is the common perception that Wil-
son is intimidating for the very reasons its intriguing. In response to the question Do you
visit Wilson Library? Why/Why not?, sample responses in this category included:
I should more because its so beautiful. However, Im worried Id mess up the
atmosphere by being there me and my tiny undergrad self.
130 Games in Libraries

For studying, no. Its so formal & ofcial, I feel like Im being judged every time
I take a Facebook study break.
Nope, place seems too fancy for me to enjoy w/o getting dressed up rst.
One student simply wrote Its scary. Another, It scares me. #freshman. (This one,
at least, communicates the hopeful assumption that he or she might magically outgrow this
fear as a sophomore).
Many of these students associate the buildings architectural assets with their trepida-
tion. Theyre experiencing fear of the known, which can be much more difcult to overcome
than fear of the unknown.

No One Dared Disturb the Sound of Silence

A third category of responses serve as a reminder that a buildings physical atmosphere
includes not only its visual environment but also its acoustic environment. In response to
the question Do you visit Wilson Library? Why/Why not?, one respondent representative
of this category wrote, Yes. To understand what silence sounds like.
Visitors to Wilson seem to expect an atmosphere of silence upon rst entering the
door. This is certainly the case in the reading rooms, particularly the Grand Reading Room,
where the high ceilings mean that any little sound echoes throughout the massive space.
Its also true of the North Carolina Collection Gallery, a small museum space designed for
exhibit viewing more than quiet study. Even when Gallery staff greet visitors at a normal
speaking volume, visitors often respond in a whisper. Wilson just looks like a shushing
library. To students accustomed to the clamor and buzz of House Library, the silence con-
tributes to the perception of Wilson as a foreign place.
Given its location, youd think more students would nd Wilson a convenient place to
study. It sits as the anchor of one of the campus two main academic quads, within a stones
throw of the student union, the main dining hall, and the student stores. Many students
responses suggested that they do, in fact, nd the location convenient, but not for studying:
I dont use it I sit on it, was a comment echoed by a few respondents a reference to
the buildings front steps, which afford an unparalleled view of the quad known as Polk Place.
On warm days, the steps are teeming with students angling to get a good spot; clustered in
laughing groups or huddled quietly with laptops. The popularity of the librarys location
makes it all the more remarkable that its interior is terra incognita for so many undergrads.
The recent attention on the theme of library as place in library science literature
emphasizes the importance of a social element in buildings thats conspicuously lacking in
Wilson. In the New Library World article The Library as Place, the authors write, Library
administrators report that students also are looking for a place to meet other students, work
on group projects, and seek out opportunities for interacting with fellow students. The
library has become a social environment, a place to be, and a destination, where students
can experience the company of fellow students.5
Its the same theme sounded by the students who responded to the ip charts asking
their opinions of Wilson. The parent of a prospective student on a tour of the Grand Reading
Room, after taking in the rooms beautiful ornamentation, put it this way: Is there another
library on campus thats not like this? I mean, this is beautiful. Id love to study here.
But these kids, they want to be in a place where they can talk to their friends. They want
to have their phones on and be doing ten things at once.
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 131

Ron Houlihan described the undergrads ideal library space as a communal environ-
ment where students are surrounded by other young people, all of them struggling with
similar issues and problems, academic, economic, and social. For many years architects,
urban planners and other shapers of public space have stressed the tribal nature of social
gathering: that crowds attract crowds.6
This is why House feels like home: because it facilitates and encourages social behavior.
In contrast, Wilsons physical and acoustic environment position it as a classic temple of
learning beautiful and erudite, but not quite comfortable. From the perspective of the
typical undergrad, spending time in House Library is the equivalent of getting pizza with
friends. Spending time in Wilson is like going to Thanksgiving dinner at your girlfriends
parents house.
A temple of learning is a ne thing, but if an entire group of people is too daunted by
the temple, will any of them come in for the learning? Of course, even if there were a way
to change the marble, the pillars, the wood-paneled walls, we wouldnt want to. They are
among the buildings most revered assets. One professor is fond of commenting that simply
entering the building makes her just feel smarter. And the buildings physical characteristics
bet the rare and important materials it contains. As Alexander Heard wrote, These con-
sequential intellectual resources joined here together make the Louis Round Wilson Library
a glorious treasury of human experience.7 Certainly, such a glorious treasury deserves glo-
rious surroundings.
Our goal is not to turn Wilson into House. For one thing, House is House, and how
many hopping-all-night libraries does a campus need? But Wilson has much to offer UNCs
undergraduates, in its materials, events, and exhibits. It would be to their benet as well
as to ours to lower the barriers to their entry by making the building seem less intimi-

A Game in Theory: Clue as Therapy

The idea of addressing Wilsons undergraduate image gap with a live immersive game
came from Becky Garrett, a room monitor in the Grand Reading Room. Garrett works
part-time in Wilson and also has a career in recreation therapy: shes the Executive Director
of North Carolinas Recreation Therapy Licensing Board.
In an interview about the idea to create a live game of Clue in Wilson, Garrett described
her thought process as a natural extension of her recreation therapy career. She explained
recreation therapy as a therapeutic modality used to aid in achieving rehabilitation goals
for medical patients. As examples, she mentioned surgery recovery in pediatric patients
(because its easier to get kids to play a game rather than do boring physical therapy exer-
cises) and doing cognitive puzzles with geriatric patients.8
On the librarys listserv, Garrett observed two prominent, recurring themes: (1) the
desire to draw more people into Wilson Library and (2) the goal of increasing interactions
between undergraduate students and staff. Her natural creative streak and her grounding
in recreation therapy led her to consider creating a game to achieve those two goals.
Garrett explained, Recreation therapists use what they call an APIE process: assess-
ment, planning, implementation, evaluation. In the assessment, you assess the needs and
the interests of the client. And in this case, I considered Wilson to be the client.9
In her assessment, Wilsons primary need was to bring more undergrads in and encour-
132 Games in Libraries

age them to interact in a meaningful way with the library. Garrett loosened the idea of the
clients interests, interpreting that to mean Wilsons strengths: its architecture, staff,
exhibits, and collections.
Among those strengths, it was the architecture that spoke most clearly, because its the
aspect of the library that students notice rst. I hear students comments all the time when
they come into the Grand Reading Room: This place looks like Hogwarts! The building
has that spooky, mysterious feeling thats exactly right for Clue.10 Garrett also considered
the natural proclivities of the campus student population. This generation had family
game night when they were growing up, so I knew the idea would be familiar.
After analyzing the alignment of atmosphere and audience, Becky advanced the idea
of a live game of Clue in Wilson to coincide with the Halloween season. The library staff
approved, and a planning committee was born.

The Design Process: Inspired by Clue

The game, as we conceived of it, was only loosely based on the original Clue board
game. Garrett explained, As part of the planning phase of the APIE process, you do an
analysis: What elements do you want to change? We knew what we wanted was to improve
knowledge of Wilson. So you think about how to get that outcome from the activity you
create. You maintain a focus on your goal: to get kids into Wilson, get them to see whats
here, get them to interact with staff.11
In other words, a strict murder-mystery interpretation would have made it more difcult
to achieve our goals. We werent looking simply to lure students into the building, but
rather to compel them, via the game, to have a meaningful interaction with Wilsons spaces,
nuances, people, and exhibits.
In addition to the goals for Wilson, the game also had goals geared toward beneting
students. Those included team building, group processing, observation skills, and problem
solving, all skills that Garrett cited as important skills for college students.12 From the outset,
our objective was to design a game with rules and tasks that would incentivize all of those
goals. The game design process involved coming up with ways to encourage desirable behav-
iors such as interacting with staff, reading exhibit labels, and closely observing architectural
details through gameplay.
The result was a game design that incorporated six components, some of which were
borrowed from the original Clue game, and some of which were innovations inspired by
Clues atmosphere of mystery. The game components borrowed from Clue were characters,
weapons, and room-based play.

The players primary means of interacting with staff would happen via six Clue char-
acters. Six Wilson staff members dressed in costume as the classic Clue personas: Mrs. White,
Miss Scarlet, Col. Mustard, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, and Prof. Plum. At set intervals,
each character would emerge from a hiding place and pass through his or her assigned room.
Each character carried a set of character cards, which bore an illustration of the character
on the front and a description of the staff member on the back.
For example, the back of Ms. Scarlets card read: Alison Murray, a.k.a. Ms. Scarlet,
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 133

Sample character card for Mr. Green, front and back. Spotting a character, and acquiring that
characters card, results in earning a point.

is the Business Services Coordinator for the Curators Ofce in the North Carolina Collec-
tion. Along with managing the ofce, Alison also writes a weekly food-themed post on the
NC Miscellany blog, featuring recipes from North Carolina cookbooks.
Upon spotting a character, a team would earn a point by approaching the character
and asking him or her for a character card. The characters served the dual purposes of tying
our version of Clue to the familiar board game and providing opportunities for player inter-
action with staff members. The presence of costumed characters also made the game more
immersive and enhanced the fantasy element: Games involve imaginary worlds; activity
inside these worlds has no impact on the real world; and when involved in a game, nothing
outside the game is relevant. Fantasies facilitate focalization of attention and the self-
absorption that occurs when users become immersed in game activity.13

In another nod to the original Clue board game, six weapons would be hidden through-
out the library: a green plastic revolver, a rope, a candlestick, a dagger, an axe, a bottle of
poison, and a yellow plastic baseball bat. Players who spotted a weapon would receive a
point for writing down its location on their answer sheet. Like the characters, the weapon
element was designed to increase the immersive feel of the game.
134 Games in Libraries

Clue players earn a point for each hidden weapon they spot during gameplay. Weapons include
a candlestick, revolver, axe, rope, dagger, bottle of poison, and bat.

Room-Based Play
Like the Clue board game, players physical movement through the game would be
dened by rooms. Their answer sheets would include a space to record the room in which
they spotted each character, the room in which they found each weapon, et cetera. Organ-
izing gameplay around the physical layout of the building would achieve two important
effects: rst, it would familiarize players with the Wilson building, and second, it would
connect our version of Clue with the original board game.
Obviously, the Wilson building was designed to be a central component of the game
almost a character in itself. We planned to have the gameplay occur on all four oors, in
seven designated areas. In addition to their other game materials, each team would receive
a map, with the restriction that only three teams could be in each area at any time. The
map would provide a way to give students control over their experience, a sense that emerges
when users are allowed to select strategies, manage the direction of activity, and make deci-
sions that directly affect outcomes.14 The map would also allow players to be self-directed,
a game feature that allow[s] game activity to evolve based on player styles, strategies, pre-
vious experience, and other factors. Although we may clearly know the rules of a game
beforehand, we are never able to predict exactly how all the game will play out.15

Our Innovations
The remaining game components questions, mystery photos, rumor cards, and bonus
prizes were our own innovations, inspired by Clues atmosphere of mystery and our own
goals for the game.
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 135

This map, distributed to all players at the beginning of the game, shows the layout of Wilson
Library on each of its four oors. Color coding shows the distinction between the seven areas
open to players.

The heart of our version of Clue would be a set of ten questions that each team
would try to answer the main element around which the others revolved. While the sets
would have some overlapping questions, no two teams would receive the same list. The
questions could be answered only by observing items in the building mostly items in
exhibits, but also portraits, sculptures, and other physical characteristics. To promote
and sustain the mysterious atmosphere, the questions had a cryptic tone. For example,
This man was created by a Hipp, but he has no hips. Who is he? The answer: Albert
Coates, a bust of whom, created by William Hipp, is on display in the second-oor reading
According to a 2002 article on games, motivation, and learning by Rosemary Garris,
et al., mystery, one of the common characteristics of many games, is enhanced by
incongruity of information, complexity, novelty, surprise and violation of expectations,
incompatibility between ideas and inability to predict the future, and information that
is incomplete or inconsistent.16 In the case of the Albert Coates question, those factors
came from the Hipp/hip wordplay. (Coates has no hips because hes a bust, not a full
The questions were also purposely difcult. Garris points out that individuals desire
an optimal level of challenge, and that one of the most robust ndings in the literature on
motivation is that clear, specic, and difcult goals lead to enhanced performance.17 Because
the answers were often buried in exhibit label text, a successful player would need to pay
close attention, to slow down, to read.
136 Games in Libraries

Mystery photograph: Hand of Ruth the Gleaner statue. At one end of Wilson Librarys sec-
ond-oor hallway is a marble statue depicting the biblical character Ruth. The statues hand
was the subject of a mystery photograph in the Wilson Library Clue game, challenging students
to identify its location (photograph by Emily Jack).

Mystery Photos
Another element that required observation of the building was a set of three mystery
photos given to every team. The photos were generally close-up shots of architectural or
sculptural details deliberately taken without context. They, too, were created with the inten-
tion of heightening atmospheric mystery: a disembodied ghostly foot, a metal grate that
looked like a cage, an eyeball. The task of the players would be to describe what the photo
depicted and identify its location, for example, hand of the statue Ruth the Gleaner, rst-
oor hallway.
This was an element designed to meet one of our goals for students: increasing obser-
vation skills. They constituted a way to compel players to pay attention to the remarkable
details of the building, rather than getting so wrapped up in hunting the answers to the
questions that they lost sight of where they were. If the questions encouraged players to
look down and read, the photos encouraged them to look up and marvel.

Rumor Cards
Rumor cards, limited in number and hidden throughout the library, posed true-or-
false questions about building history, lore, or hidden traits details that couldnt be seen
by looking around. For example, True or False: The oldest work in Wilson Library is dated
1500 BC. (The answer: False. The Rare Book Collection holds cuneiform tablets from as
far back as 2300 BCE.)
Garrett conceived of the rumor cards as another avenue to get out facts that people
cant see, especially because of the closed stacks in Wilson.18 The cards were mini-mysteries
in themselves. (Has anyone ever fallen through the domed ceiling in the Grand Reading
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 137

Room?) They would also provide another opportunity for players to interact with the staff.
The answers to rumor cards could be discerned only by talking with the staff members
monitoring each room.

Bonus Prizes
The nal element of the game was designed for the sheer thrill of a quick win. Five
plush Rameses toys (the UNC mascot) would be hidden throughout the library. A Rameses
toy found by a player could be exchanged at the end of the game for a small bonus prize
for the entire team.
The bonus prizes added a dynamic element to the game something that was external
to the dened gameplay. While many of the games other elements were purposely difcult,
the potential to win a bonus prize would serve as a constant piece of extra motivation: any
player could become an instant winner at any time. The prospect of a short-term automatic
win would help to balance against the cumulative point orientation of the rest of the games

Contextual Elements
The design of the game also factored in a few contextual elements that were integral
to its functioning. These included a team focus, temporal considerations, and the presence
of room monitors.
Teams. The game was designed to be played by teams of up to ve players.
According to Becky Garrett, Its motivating for students to be able to play with
their friends. College students are very social. You may not be able to get one
person to sign up on their own, but if two or three of their friends get together,
theyre more likely to play.19 A game rule required all team members to enter and
leave a room together, which forced teams to work together in the same space,
rather than splitting up to maximize efciency.
Time. The game would unfold within a set time frame: it would begin at 5:30
and end at 7:00. The winning team would be the team with the highest number
of points at the appointed end time. Rather than being a race to nish rst, this
format encouraged players to spend more time on a thorough investigation. A
game design that rewarded speed would have incentivized interacting with the
space as little as possible. It was also important that the game happen
synchronously, rather than being a set of tasks students could complete at any
time. A synchronous game design yields an immersive experience, one in which
the game becomes its own environment and invites the players to get lost in that
Room monitors. The presence of monitors in each of the games seven areas was
intended to provide a measure of security, but was also built into the fabric of the
game via the rumor cards. If a team found a rumor card, they could discover its
answer only by speaking with a room monitor. The result would be a moment of
discovery rmly rooted in place and tied to a human interaction. One of the
learning principles noted by Scott DeLoach and Rob Houser in their article
Learning from Games is that information should be presented at the right time
138 Games in Libraries

and the right place. The act of guidance must be unobtrusive, timely, and
Elements that were not part of the game were just as important as the actual game ele-
ments. In the most notable departure from the original Clue board game, there was no murder
to solve. Becky Garrett, in discussing the APIE process, explained, In the planning, you
break down every component and ask, What does it take to be successful with that? With
the murder, it wasnt really necessary. The clues were facts about Wilson. And I wasnt sure
it was a good idea to have a murder be a part of the game on a college campus.21
In its design, our version of Clue was in line with six broad characteristics of games
frequently discussed in game literature: fantasy, rules/goals, sensory stimuli, challenge, mys-
tery, and control.22 With all these components in mind, we began planning.

A Game in Practice: Testing Our Design

Early in the planning process, we partnered with the Order of the Bell Tower, one of
the campus honor societies. In the beginning, that partnership took the form of an OBT
student attending planning meetings and sharing ideas. As our planning progressed, it
became clear that the best way to improve our game design would be to host a test run in
the library with live undergrads. We scheduled a run-through three weeks before the event
and our OBT student recruited some other members of his group to participate.
The students who showed up for the test run t perfectly into our imagined audience
of undergrads. The students were primarily upperclassmen, and most had never before been
in Wilson Library. At least one later openly acknowledged being intimidated by the building.
(I got scared coming up the front steps even though I knew I was coming here to meet
someone, she told us.)
We split our test subjects into three teams, gave them a brief introduction to the games
objectives and rules, handed out game materials, and turned them loose in the library.
When the faux gameplay ended, the test-run players gave us valuable feedback surpassing
our highest expectations in three realms: gameplay, event logistics, and promotion.

The test players liked the mystery elements insofar as they were part of the in-game
narrative. (Where might Col. Mustard appear? What part of the library does this pho-
tograph depict?) But they wanted more clarity than we had given them when it came to
game-related components, like orientation, hidden items, and personal interactions.
Regarding orientation, the test players felt like they didnt have enough context to
understand where they were, even with the color-coded map wed provided. (We know
were in the fourth-oor reading room but what does that mean ?) They suggested
including a write-up for each area with details about the spaces and the exhibits within
them. We were surprised but pleased; our players actually wanted more information about
Wilson than wed thought to give them.
As they were hunting for weapons, the test players described feeling disoriented because
they didnt know what the weapons looked like an issue we decided to address by including
a photo of each weapon on the answer sheet. Similarly, the players told us they wanted to
know what the rumor cards looked like and how many were hidden.
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 139

The test players also wanted clearer instructions at the outset about whom they could
approach and for what purpose. Could they ask characters for help with rumor card answers?
(No.) Could they ask room monitors for help with the answers to their question sets? (Again,
Finally, the test players wanted more opportunities to track their progress and mind
their scores. The rumor cards should be numbered, they told us, and there should be some
way to know if a particular card had already been found. They suggested hanging a replace-
ment card that said something like Rumor Card #10 has been found. That would give
them a way to track their own progress as well as the progress of the other teams, and a cue
to know when they should stop looking for rumor cards.
Their game-related feedback was consistent with game literature. Garris writes, goals
should be clearly specied, yet the possibility of obtaining that goal should be uncertain.
And performance feedback and score keeping allows the individual to track progress toward
desired goals.23

Event Logistics
The students feedback about planning the event helped us step more readily into the
minds of undergrads and craft an event that would have broad appeal. If the event happens
at dinner time, they told us, students wont come unless we serve something that could be
considered dinner. Wed been planning to have some kind of food, but now we knew speci-
cally to order pizza.
They also suggested having a photographer on hand to capture photos of the teams,
players during gameplay, and staff members in costume. We might have known that members
of a generation that communicates as readily in photos as it does in words would want pho-
tographic documentation of the event, but it hadnt occurred to us that they might be too
wrapped up in gameplay to shoot mobile phone photos themselves.

The test-run players suggestions also included suggestions for getting the word out
about the game. They advised us about student groups we might approach to request funding
for food and help with promotion. They strongly advised mentioning free food and prizes
on all our promotional materials.
And they offered an incredibly valuable suggestion about recruiting players. Rather
than targeting the entire campus community, they suggested, we should get in touch with
the leaders of student groups and encourage them to put together teams to represent their
organizations. Students receive so much email they just delete much of it without reading
it, they told us. This was no surprise to us, but their suggestion for overcoming this obstacle
was a revelation. If students will pay attention to a message from someone they know, why
not enlist the help of those familiar student leaders to help distribute our message?

If We Build It, Will They Come? Marketing,

Response and Registration
The students whod participated in the test run didnt lead us astray with their marketing
advice. Our promotional efforts were minimal but were incredibly effective. Two weeks
140 Games in Libraries

before the event, we sent email messages to representatives from fteen student organizations
and created a Facebook event. Five days later, registration for the game had lled to max-
imum capacity twelve teams, or a total of sixty students. By the time of the event, fteen
additional teams had signed up on a waitlist.
Because we had limited capacity for marketing, we didnt promote the game very
aggressively. We were surprised to nd that we didnt need to. A post-game survey revealed
that word-of-mouth marketing accounted for nearly all of participants registration. Out
of fty survey respondents, thirty-three had heard about the game from a friend or relative.
Eight had heard about it via Facebook, six from a student organization, and three reported
that theyd heard about it via email (although they didnt specify from whom).
Our own perceived effort about our rigor in marketing didnt match the perception of
the people hearing our message. A non-participating student, months later, remarked, That
event was really well publicized. I came across it on Facebook via a few different accounts.
Her comment points to the importance of not just being on Facebook, but being shared
between students on Facebook. In that regard, our partnerships with the Order of the Bell
Tower, and later the Residence Hall Association, proved to be invaluable.
In his book The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, George Silverman emphasizes
the importance of early adopters, no matter how few, and their inuence on non-adopters,
no matter how many.24 In this case, the early adopters were the students in the test
run even though there were only eight of them. Theyd had a sneak peek and, along with
their student organizations, had lent their imprimatur to the game by sharing it via social
media and personal conversations.
Of course, getting the word out doesnt automatically translate to getting people to
sign on. And yet, sign on they did. Our supposition is that the idea of the event was popular
partly because students like games and because they were already familiar with Clue. In an
article about instructional games, Anna-Lise Smith and Lesli Baker write that learners are
more willing to engage with a game that is familiar to them. Offering students a point of
reference within a new game fosters condence.25
We also suspect that students were so quick to sign up because their perceptions of
Wilson Library resonated with their notions of the game of Clue. Both are mysterious, old-
fashioned, and somewhat spooky. Wed built the game with this idea in mind playing
along with how people see the Wilson building. It was an informed hunch, but it was still
a hunch. As it turned out, we were right.

Gameplay: The Rubber Meets the Road

Given the speed with which we exceeded player capacity during registration, we were
expecting an enthusiastic audience the night of the game. But even we were surprised by
how enthusiastic the players were when they arrived. On the night before Halloween, 2012,
at the appointed starting time, we gathered in the librarys assembly room a lecture-style
room with rows of seats and prepped the players with an explanation of the game and its
various elements.
The prep session was informed by the feedback of the players in the test run. It included
a slideshow that showed a photo of each weapon, a picture of a rumor card, and photos of
the stuffed Rameses bonus point toys. The session was purposely brief, in keeping with
one of Deloach and Housers seven principles for creating ideal games: Users should be
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 141

provided only enough instruction to get started and keep going. They are interested in
reading only the bare minimum that is needed to achieve their goal.26
From our rst words of welcome, it was evident that the players were on board. They
hooted and cheered as opportunity allowed including when we invited them to congrat-
ulate themselves for getting in the door to a hot-ticket event. Their level of enthusiasm was
gratifying, but it also made us slightly nervous. It was clear the students had high expecta-
tions. At this point, all of our planning was nished and we could only hope the game
wouldnt disappoint them.
After the prep session, four staff members accompanied the teams to their starting
rooms; three teams with each staff member. At the games ofcial start time, the staffers
handed out the teams folders, which contained their question sets, mystery photos, answer
sheets, and maps.
And then they were off, moving swiftly through the library, their brows furrowed with
intensity. As observers, we could see how the games slow pace emerged naturally. The
teams initial instincts were to rush through the rooms, but the difculty of the questions
and the nature of the gameplay forced them to move more deliberately. This pacing was an
intentional part of our game design. We wanted tortoises to beat hares. But even after the
players settled into the games methodical pace, their intensity remained.

Members of the Mrs. Boddy team explore the second-oor reading room during the Wilson
Library Clue game. In a post-game interview, game organizer and Wilson employee Becky
Garrett said, I was so pleased by how Bob [Schreiner] captured the expressions on the
faces of the students, because thats what I was seeing throughout the night: The looks of inten-
sity. Team Mrs. Boddy took home the second-place award (photograph courtesy Bob
142 Games in Libraries

A member of the team Clueless peers into an exhibit case in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit
Room during the Wilson Library Clue game. One of the games intended outcomes was to
encourage undergraduates to become more familiar with Wilsons layout, architecture, and
exhibits (photograph courtesy Bob Schreiner).

Each character appeared in his or her assigned room at an assigned interval and for an
assigned length of time. For example, every fteen minutes, Ms. Peacock emerged from the
stacks and dusted the room with a feather duster for two minutes before disappearing again.
Mr. Green appeared in the Gallery every twenty minutes and began rambling out loud to
a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh. These moments of playacting enhanced the immersive expe-
rience of the game; the characters existed both as pieces of the game and extensions of the
setting of Wilson Library.
The unpredictable nature of the characters appearance also added an element of uncer-
tainty and luck to catching a character. It happened frequently that a character would appear
and complete her task within speaking distance of a team, but the players were so absorbed
in nding answers that they never spotted her.

Total Absorption
Staff participants observed later that the players appeared to be completely lost in the
game. We had achieved the creation of a truly immersive experience, providing a complete
world with its own rules and conventions. It was that context that transformed the experience
into a whole larger than the sum of its parts.
In gaming literature, the positive experience of being fully engaged in an activity is
known as a state of ow. One writer denes ow as the state in which people are so
involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.27 Flow represents an optimal
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 143

state of performance at a task, a sense of enjoyment and control, where an individuals skills
are matched to the challenges faced. Furthermore, ow derives from activities that are opti-
mally challenging and in which there are clear goals and feedback, concentration is intensely
focused, there is a high degree of control, and users are absorbed to the extent that they lose
a sense of time and self. The concept of ow provides one perspective on the feelings of
enjoyment and engagement that can be experienced by game users.28
The state of ow was evident in the Clue players throughout gameplay, with all the
characteristics suggested by Garris, particularly the optimally challenging aspect. Becky
Garrett asked one group of students during the game how they were doing. Their response
addressed the difculty of the questions: These are really hard!
That sentiment also appeared in students post-game survey responses, in many cases in
the context of remarking that the difcult questions were among players favorite elements of
the game. As Jane McGonigal writes in Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How
They Can Change the World, Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose
for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work.29

#winning! Trophy Time

Gameplay lasted for an hour and a half. When it ended, all the teams gathered again in
the assembly room while the staff tallied the players scores. As informed by the advice of the
test-run players, our room full of undergrads eagerly ate pizza while we counted up points.
The downtime gave the players an opportunity to recap their shared in-game experience. (I
couldnt nd the revolver. That question was crazy! Did you see Professor Plum?)
When all the points had been counted, the award ceremony began. The rst prizes
awarded were the bonus prizes given to members of teams that had found the plush Rameses
toys. These prizes consisted of free library swag pens, pencils, tote bags. Among the most
popular bonus prizes were posters from the North Carolina Collection full-color posters
with images of early postcards or photos of old railroad depots. The posters are available
free, every day, to anyone who enters the library and asks. But awarding them as an honor
earned in gameplay elevated them to special status.
We had prizes for the rst-, second-, and third-place teams. When two teams tied for
third place, we were prepared with a tie-breaker question: How many eggs are on display
in the natural history collection in the North Carolina Collection Gallery? It was a guess-
the-number-of-jelly-beans-style question, to which no player was expected to actually know
the answer. When we called the tied teams to the front of the room for the tie-breaking
showdown, the drama of the moment captured the attention of the entire audience. The
losing team in the tie-breaker experienced the disappointment of coming oh so close, and
the tie-break-winning team proudly received certicates and $10 gift cards to a local restau-
rant. The second-place team won $15 gift cards to a frozen yogurt shop. And the rst-place
team, which happened to be the only team who answered all of their questions correctly,
won $25 gift cards to the student stores.

Post-Game Assessment
While the students excitement and intensity made it clear that the game was successful
in engaging their enthusiasm, some additional pieces of evidence revealed that the game
144 Games in Libraries

was also successful in achieving our higher goals of changing undergraduates perceptions
of Wilson Library, at least on a small scale.
First, staff observations during the game suggested that students were exhibiting the
behaviors we had hoped for. In an interview following the game, Becky Garrett said, It
was satisfying. You could see goals were being reached. The students were talking to staff,
they were learning about the building, and they were enthusiastic. I heard so many students
during the game say I never knew all this was here, and I didnt know this building had
so much. Other staff participants, watching players search the exhibits for answers, over-
heard continuous statements of pleased surprise. (This exhibit is so cool!)
We also conducted a post-game survey that students completed before leaving the
event. Out of 50 respondents, 21 reported having never been in Wilson Library prior to the
Clue game. Only 7 had used the collections.
In response to the question What was your impression of Wilson Library before
playing the game?, the most common theme among the surveys, with 10 out of 50, was
that Wilson was intimidating. Sample responses included Intimidating, but pretty. Scary
and quiet. Dark, quiet, depressing, scary.
In response to the question, Have your impressions of Wilson changed?, 43 out of
50 said yes. Sample responses to the follow-up question, If your impressions have changed,
how? include:
Wilson is AWESOME. So much to see; its like a museum on campus.
I feel like I know my way around more and would feel condent coming in.
Now I know where usable rooms are and I feel more welcome.
I hadnt realized the exhibits that are here.
Its awesome inside.
Less scary.
Much more open and welcoming.
I want to study here now.
It doesnt seem as stuffy and uncomfortable.
I like it now that I know it better.
Clues made me learn the layout.
Really nice, includes a lot of interesting info.
Still feels like a museum, but its a fun place.
Enjoyed the atmosphere.
Two common themes ran through the students responses. (1) The players were made aware
of the unexpected treasures in Wilson Library and, importantly, they found them appeal-
ing. (2) Students had been kept away because they hadnt felt like they had the insider
knowledge required to condently navigate the building. Now, as a result of the Clue game,
that feeling of fear had been overcome, removing a signicant barrier to their future use of
A third bit of evidence that wed been successful in achieving our goals came later, in
the observations of Wilson staff who saw Clue players returning to the library in subsequent
days, weeks, and months. A few days after the game, for example, one player visited the
North Carolina Collection Gallery with a friend who hadnt played Clue. (Notably, this was
a member of the team that had lost the tie for third place. He groaned at the memory of
it, saying, I feel like we should have at least gotten a poster for coming so close. He
walked out with ve posters, one for each member of his team.) The same player returned
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 145

in February, four months after the game, with a different student, a rst-time visitor to
Wilson Library.
Observations in the Grand Reading Room have been similar. Players have come back
to the library following the game, often with students who hadnt played. Some have cheer-
fully identied themselves as Clue players to Becky Garrett, a game organizer and Grand
Reading Room monitor. Garrett also observed a player from the test run bringing three or
four other students to the Grand Reading Room and encouraging them to play if they had
the opportunity.

Why Did It Work? Sleuthing Out the Reasons

What was it about the Wilson Library Clue game that made it so successful? Part
of it was starting with a stellar idea, but it takes more than a good idea to create and run
a successful game. Other factors in our success were a game design that incorporated
social science research about motivation, game elements aimed at enhancing players
experience, and a collaborative creative process that made effective use of each partners

The Progress Bar

Among our observations during gameplay was that players seemed to remain in a state
of ow throughout the game. Based on studies about motivation, it seems likely that one
contributing factor to this state of ow was a feature of the games design namely, the
separation of the players tasks into a variety of short lists, rather than one long one. Each
team had ten questions to answer, three mystery photos to identify, six weapons to nd,
and six characters to identify. In addition, they had the potential to nd any number of
thirteen hidden rumor cards, or any of the ve bonus prize pieces. Having so many different
tasks to focus on gave teams the opportunity to oscillate from one task to another, reducing
the amount of time when they felt bogged down by their seeming lack of progress toward
any one goal.
The article Stuck in the Middle: The Psychophysics of Goal Pursuit explains why
the middle of a task is psychologically the most difcult. Players in the middle of a given
task begin to switch their frame of reference. During the initial part of a task, players focus
on the progress made from the starting point. (Weve already answered three questions!
Sweet!) The positive attitude that results from such early progress offers its own motivation.
In the middle of a task, it becomes more difcult to recognize and quantify additional
progress. (Ugh. Weve got four questions done. Or is it ve? Whatever.) At the point
when it becomes difcult to see continued progress, motivation wanes until players near the
end of a task. At that point, players shift their frame of reference to whats left to accomplish
before completing the task. (Just one question left! Lets knock this out.) As a result,
motivation picks up.30

Time, one of the contextual elements that featured prominently in the games design,
was also one likely factor in its favorable outcomes. We could have created a game that
would have unfolded asynchronously, perhaps a scavenger hunt that could be completed
146 Games in Libraries

over a week during the librarys opening hours. But the synchronous aspect of the game
was essential to its success.
Wilson Library and its exhibits are available every day. During the Clue game, the
teams were surrounded by, and engaging with, materials, exhibits, and rooms that are always
there. But in the synchronous context of Clue, the physical environment of the building
took on a new meaning. Each artifact, each painting, each architectural detail had the
potential to unlock some element of the game and to advance a team toward victory. Every-
thing that happened relied on a temporal convergence, from the timing of the characters
appearance to the precise starting and ending times of gameplay. The fact that the players
were surrounded by other teams, competing for the same goal in the same time frame,
instilled in them a sense of urgency that fostered complete absorption in the game and in
the physical surroundings of the library.
That the game took place after the librarys typical opening hours also contributed to
its success. For one thing, there were no researchers present in the building. Every person
in Wilson Library during the Clue game was a part of the game. This had the effect of sus-
taining the fantasy world critical to the immersive experience.

As wed expected during the game design, Wilson Library as a space became almost a
character in the game. Our design capitalized on what we already knew about students per-
ceptions of the building and the overlap of those perceptions with the mysterious atmosphere
of Clue. It was telling that many of the students who reported having their impressions of
Wilson improved by the game still held on to those elements that had previously seemed
off-putting: Still feels like a museum, but its a fun place. Wilson is AWESOME. So
much to see; its like a museum on campus. It seems clear that the game wouldnt have
been nearly as successful in House Library with its modern architectural elements, bright
lights, and casual atmosphere.

The game was competitive, but because the players were working in teams, it was also
collaborative. As the authors of the book Gamication by Design point out, the competitive
aspect of any game is secondary for most players: The average person is looking to social-
ize not win. Although achievements are nice to earn (and make players feel great), they
are not the principal driver. If designers begin to think the game is about achievements,
they will at some point realize they are excluding a big chunk of the audience.31
For the teams who played Clue, the game fostered a sense of belonging, both to the
space and to each other. Because they entered the event as a member of a group, they had
a group identity-based stake in the teams outcome and, as a result, invested their full atten-
tion in gameplay. Its worth noting that the two winning teams were the only ones that
explicitly named a student group afliation in their team names.
Experiencing the game with friends seemed to imbue the event with an additional
layer of meaning for the players. McGonigal describes this as the feeling that were a part
of something bigger than ourselves.32 Any given player was playing partly for her own
entertainment, yes, but also because her teammates were relying on her, or because she
wanted to win on behalf of her campus organization.
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 147

Collaborative Design
Finally, the game wouldnt have been nearly as successful or even possible at all
had it not been for the collaborative aspect of its design. The original idea came from a pro-
fessional from outside the library world, Becky Garrett, whose recreation therapy approach
brought a fresh perspective to solving an entrenched problem. Bringing in two student
groups as partnering organizations strengthened the effort even further. The design of the
game was vastly improved as a result of the input of our committees student members as
well as the priceless feedback of the students who participated in the test run.
The role of the students who helped with the planning exponentially increased our
return on investment when it came to marketing. And the pre-game buzz they helped create
with their sneak peek knowledge seemed to build anticipation among the players, an effect
that went a long way toward selling the experience as a positive one even before the teams
played the game.

Whats Next?
Before we declare our efforts an unconditional success, we intend to conduct another
survey at the end of the academic year. Well ask the students who played the rst Wilson
Clue game whether they returned to the library during the remainder of the year, following
the October event. The results will help us draw a more conclusive picture of whether we
achieved our goals than the students immediate post-game feedback alone. We also intend
to host another version of the game in the spring semester. Informed by our experience,
well probably do some things differently.

We hadnt considered the role of sound when crafting the game, but students post-
game feedback reminded us of the importance of acoustics when creating an immersive
experience. A number of students suggested having music playing during gameplay. (Sample
responses: Eerie music playing might be nice. Play music next time.) In retrospect, it
makes sense given the number of players who mentioned that their previous impressions of
Wilson were that its quiet, as well as the responses of students on the ip charts in House
Library. Sound, especially music, is also an important component of creating atmosphere
in any environment.

Many students suggested structuring the game around more of a narrative, some sort
of mystery to solve, to more closely align it to the original Clue board game and movie.
This is another element that would make the game more immersive. We hope to nd a way
to do this that will increase the number and quality of interactions between players and
characters, beyond asking characters for character cards and asking room monitors for help
with rumor card questions. The challenge will be creating a narrative that still allows for a
high level of engagement with the exhibits and the physical space, rather than going too
far into the fantasy of the game.
148 Games in Libraries

Length of Gameplay
Based on the test run, we had set the time of gameplay for an hour and a half. This
entailed some guesswork, because the test-run teams were smaller than the teams that played
the game, and some elements of the game design changed between the test and the event.
As it turned out, that timeframe was too long. Based on our observations, students were
consumed in a state of ow for the rst hour of gameplay. After the rst hour, the players
had completed nearly all the required tasks except for the ones that were particularly difcult
for them. When theyd reached the end of what was within the scope of an optimal challenge,
the players enthusiasm seemed to dip until it was time for scoring. Our next iteration will
be timed more carefully.

The Progress-Bar Effect

Based on the stuck in the middle principle, future versions of the game will likely
incorporate more and varied progress bars, with the goal of keeping motivation at a high
throughout the game. Possibilities may include awarding badges throughout the game for
completing a sub-set of tasks (for example, Answer all of Col. Mustards questions and
receive a yellow badge) and providing more opportunities for in-game bonus prizes.

Meeting Demand
One unexpected, and still unresolved challenge involves meeting future demand from
prospective Clue players. Given the number of students who had wanted to sign up, and
the fact that we hadnt marketed the game very heavily, it seems clear that demand for Clue
in Wilson Library outstrips our capacity. The cap on the number of participants is fairly
inexible due to security concerns, and the demands on staff are too great to offer the game
with any great frequency. This issue remains to be solved, but preliminary ideas include
prioritizing registration for upperclassmen and using a lottery system for registration.

Reection: A Psychology of Place

An immersive game and a special collections library may seem like odd bedfellows
they certainly did to some of our colleagues at rst. But the process of creating the game
revealed a surprising natural t between the two; we do the same thing when we create an
immersive game that we do when we design exhibits.
In both exhibit design and game design, we consider the limitations and opportunities
provided by the physical space. We imagine an ideal version of the user experience and
devote our resources to achieving that goal. Most importantly, we create a new context. We
gather seemingly disparate materials and, through the design process, bind them together
in unexpected ways. When its done successfully, the outcome is an immersive environment
(whether a game or an exhibit) that causes aggregated materials to resonate with each other
as if in their own world. For the exhibit visitor or game player, encountering them in this
context transcends the experience of encountering them individually. At their most basic
level, the goals of an immersive game and an exhibit are the same: to cause our audience
to become absorbed in the context we create, to lead them toward nding a new meaning
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 149

in it, and to let them create their own meaning from it. The meaning wed hoped to inspire
in the Clue players was an attachment to Wilson Library.
Environmental psychologists study the relationships between people and the spaces
they occupy. In 2008, researchers Kenny Chow and Mick Healy studied rst-year students
developing place attachment and place identity as they attempted to adjust to university
life. In their ndings, they write, It is not just places themselves that are important. Rather,
and perhaps central to the processes of adjustment and familiarisation, it is experience-in-
place that creates meaning; the process of socialization with the physical world.33 Our
goal with Clue was to create the conditions that facilitate and nurture those experiences.
Our highest vision for the game was to give students a personal story to bind themselves to
Wilson Library.
One senior told us after the game that playing Clue in Wilson was one of her top expe-
riences at UNC. For her, the game perhaps served as an experience-in-place that became
an encapsulation of her larger college experience; like college, Clue was both socially stim-
ulating and intellectually challenging. It was also an experience that contained place-based
references to the university in which she and her friends had been immersed for the past
three years. In that sense, Clue may have served the function of the signicant places Lynny
C. Manzo writes about in her study of place identity. Such places reect peoples evolving
identity, serve as markers in lifes journey, act as bridges to the past, and reect critical
dynamics among safety, threat and belonging mediated largely by socially constructed iden-
Of course, for this student, Wilson Library will never mean as much as her home, or
even her dorm room, but it can be one of the places that, combined with many others on
campus, forms the web of meaning Manzo referred to, a web that completes the gestalt
of who we are.35
While weve observed some Clue players returning to the library, the question remains
whether Wilson will become one of their regular campus haunts. Perhaps not, but if they
nd they need to use materials from the special collections, or if they hear about an exhibit
that interests them, we hope and expect theyll be less intimidated about entering the build-
We also hope the students who played Clue will help improve perceptions of Wilson
Library among other undergraduates on campus. The more students who have a positive
experience in Wilson, the higher likelihood that when a student says Ive never been in
Wilson Library, one of their friends can say Ive been there and its great! (And as we saw
with the game registration, word-of-mouth marketing is remarkably powerful, particularly
with an audience as social as college students.) In this respect, our post-game observations
of Clue players returning to Wilson with rst-time visitors is very encouraging.

Final Thoughts
Weeks after the Clue game took place, we gathered the photos captured by the event
photographers and uploaded them to the photo-sharing site Flickr. The photos captured
the anticipation of the pre-game information session, the intensity of the players during the
game, and the triumph and disappointment of the award ceremony.
When the photos were up on the web, we send a link via email to all the Clue players
and the employees who had staffed the game. The day we posted the photos they received
150 Games in Libraries

4,157 views including hundreds of referrals from Facebook, where some students had
obviously reposted some of the pictures.
The stats on the number of views and referrals were gratifying; they showed that not
only had we changed the way students view Wilson, but that the library itself had undergone
its own transformation. On a day-to-day basis, the business of any special collections library
is preserving memories. But for at least one night, we had adopted the role of making mem-

1. UNC Libraries, Welcome to the Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC Libraries, accessed Feb.
25, 2013, http://www.lib. unc. edu/about/.
2. Joe A. Hewitt, Louis Round Wilson Library: An Enduring Monument to Learning, UNC Libraries,
last modied Oct. 21, 2004, http://www.lib. unc. edu/wilson/wilson. html.
3. The Top 10 Places to Study around Campus, Daily Tar Heel (blog), last modied Sept. 12, 2012,
4. Lisa LeFever, Tech Changes Come to Library, Daily Tar Heel (blog), last modied Sept. 10, 2012,
5. Lisa Waxman, Stephanie Clemons, Jim Banning, David McKelfresh, The Library as Place: Providing
Students with Opportunities for Socialization, Relaxation, and Restoration, New Library World 108, no. 9
(2007): 428.
6. Ron Houlihan, The Academic Library as Congenial Space: More on the Saint Marys Experience,
New Library World 106, no. 1 (2005): 9.
7. Hewitt, Louis Round Wilson Library.
8. Becky Garrett, interview by Emily Jack, Jan. 3, 2013.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Rosemary Garris, Robert Ahlers, and James E. Driskell, Games, Motivation, and Learning: A Research
and Practice Model, Simulation & Gaming 33, no. 4 (2002), 447448.
14. Ibid., 451.
15. Ibid., 449.
16. Ibid., 450.
17. Ibid., 449.
18. Garrett interview, Jan. 3, 2013.
19. Ibid.
20. Scott DeLoach and Rob Houser, Learning from Games: Seven Principles of Effective Design, Technical
Communication 45, no. 3 (1998): 45.
21. Garrett interview, Jan. 13, 2013.
22. Garris, Games, Motivation, and Learning, 447.
23. Ibid., 450.
24. George Silverman, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing: How to Trigger Exponential Sales through
Runaway Word of Mouth (New York: Amacom Books, 2001), 134.
25. Anna-Lise Smith, Lesli Baker, Getting a Clue: Creating Student Detectives and Dragon Slayers in
Your Library, Reference Services Review 39, no. 4 (2011): 631.
26. DeLoach, Learning from Games, 3.
27. Garris, Games, Motivation, and Learning, 452.
28. Ibid.
29. Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
(New York: Penguin Press, 2011), 28.
30. Andrea Bonezzi, C. Miguel Brendl, and Matteo De Angelis, Stuck in the Middle: The Psychophysics
of Goal Pursuit, Psychological Science 22, no. 5 (2011).
31. Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham, Gamication by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics
in Web and Mobile Apps (Sebastopol, CA: OReilly Media, 2011), 24.
32. McGonigal, Reality Is Broken, 97.
33. Kenny Chow and Mick Healy, Place Attachment and Place Identity: First-year Undergraduates Making
the Transition from Home to University, Journal of Environmental Psycholog y 28 (2008): 368.
In the Library with the Candlestick (Jack and McMichael) 151

34. Lynne C. Manzo, For Better or Worse: Exploring Multiple Dimensions of Place Meaning, Journal
of Environmental Psycholog y 25 (2005): 75.
35. Ibid., 76.

Bonezzi, Andrea, C. Miguel Brendl, and Matteo De Angelis. Stuck in the Middle: The Psychophysics of
Goal Pursuit. Psychological Science 22, no. 5 (2011).
Chow, Kenny and Mick Healy. Place Attachment and Place Identity: First-Year Undergraduates Making the
Transition from Home to University. Journal of Environmental Psycholog y 28 (2008).
DeLoach, Scott, and Rob Houser. Learning from Games: Seven Principles of Effective Design. Technical
Communication 45, no. 3 (1998).
Garrett, Becky, interview by Emily Jack, January 3, 2013.
Garris, Rosemary, Robert Ahlers, and James E. Driskell. Games, Motivation, and Learning: A Research and
Practice Model. Simulation & Gaming 33, no. 4 (2002).
Hewitt, Joe A. Louis Round Wilson Library: An Enduring Monument to Learning. October 21, 2004.
http://www.lib. unc. edu/wilson/wilson. html.
Houlihan, Ron. The Academic Library as Congenial Space: More on the Saint Marys Experience. New
Library World 106, no. 1 (2005).
LeFever, Lisa. Tech Changes Come to Library. Daily Tar Heel (blog). September 10, 2012. http://www.daily
Manzo, Lynne C. For Better or Worse: Exploring Multiple Dimensions of Place Meaning. Journal of Envi-
ronmental Psycholog y 25 (2005).
McGonigal, Jane. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New
York: Penguin Press, 2011.
Silverman, George. The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing: How to Trigger Exponential Sales Through Runaway
Word of Mouth. New York: Amacom Books, 2001.
Smith, Anna-Lise, and Lesli Baker. Getting a Clue: Creating Student Detectives and Dragon Slayers in Your
Library. Reference Services Review 39, no. 4 (2011).
The Top 10 Places to Study Around Campus. Daily Tar Heel (blog). September 12, 2012. http://www.daily
UNC Libraries. Welcome to the Wilson Special Collections Library. Chapel Hill, NC. Accessed Feb. 25,
2013. http://www.lib. unc. edu/about/.
Waxman, Lisa, Stephanie Clemons, Jim Banning, and David McKelfresh. The Library as Place: Providing
Students with Opportunities for Socialization, Relaxation, and Restoration. New Library World 108, no.
9/10 (2007): 42434.
Zichermann, Gabe and Christopher Cunningham. Gamication by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in
Web and Mobile Apps. Sebastopol, CA: OReilly Media, 2011.
Learning with Games in Medicine
and Healthcare and the
Potential Role of Libraries

An educational game differs from other games in that its primary purpose is not enter-
tainment but education. For this reason, educational games are also called serious games.1
The concept of a serious game is related to and sometimes overlaps with other similar con-
cepts such as e-learning, edutainment, game-based learning, and digital game-based learn-
ing.2 Some consider serious games as a type of interactive computer application3 or a
simulation video game4 while others take it more broadly as any type of game designed for
education as its primary goal. An educational game is also understood as a form of experi-
ential learning where the learner engages in some activity, looks back at the activity critically,
abstracts some useful insight from the analysis and puts the results to work.5 A serious game
is distinguished from other educational strategies and instructional methods by its compet-
itive nature, broadly understood by the scoring mechanism in a game, and the use of pre-
scribed settings constrained by rules and procedures. Serious games are used in a variety of
elds such as military, aviation, education, city planning, and healthcare.6
The benets of educational games are usually described with the terms such as expe-
riential, active, exploratory, immersive, motivational, engaging, interactive, social, and col-
laborative. It is easy to see that these terms capture the aspects of learning that are often
missing or less prominent in the traditional lecture-style teaching method, which tends to
present knowledge in its abstract and de-contextualized form. An educational game is an
attempt to enhance students experience and learning outcomes by applying the gaming
elements and mechanisms to instruction. Through an environment intentionally designed
to provide people with optimal experience, a game is known to enable people to perform
better and to achieve more than what they usually do without the help of the carefully
designed gaming environment.7 The question is how effective games can be in helping
people in acquiring knowledge and skills that are difcult to obtain, not just in avoiding
boredom and pursuing sensory stimulation and fun.
In practice-focused disciplines such as medicine and healthcare, an even stronger argu-
ment for the adoption of educational games can be made. Games can simulate the real-life
situations, thereby providing an opportunity for the learner to experience those situations
safely, cost-effectively, and repeatedly and to contextualize what they have learned in the
classroom. Serious games can also provide an effective means of developing various skills
such as analytical and spatial, strategic, recollection, and psychomotor as well as visual selec-
tive attention.8 According to Wideman et al., medical education is one of the two elds in

Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 153

which signicant bodies of research in educational gaming exist along with business edu-
cation.9 A search in PubMed (game or games or gaming) AND Education [Mesh]
brings back over 2,200 results and the oldest research goes as far back as 1950s. Considering
that the 2012 Horizon Report predicted that game-based learning is on the 23 years horizon
for adoption,10 medicine and healthcare have certainly been the early adopters of game-
based learning.
This chapter will review what educational games are currently used in medicine and
healthcare, examine how games are being received as a learning tool and an instructional
strategy by students, healthcare practitioners, and educators, and discuss the literature on
the efcacy of a game as a pedagogical means. We will also look into the mechanism in
which game dynamics operate to engage and motivate players, the difculty of assessing the
pedagogical efcacy of an educational game, several variables that need to be taken into
consideration to draw the maximum benet out of a game embedded in instruction, and
the importance of technical and logistical support for instructors. Lastly, the author will
review two cases of educational games used by medical and health sciences libraries and
discuss the potential role medical and health sciences libraries can play in facilitating the
adoption of educational games and their optimal use.

Serious Games in Medicine and Healthcare

Types of Serious Games
There have been a variety of games created for medical and health science students
and professionals. Educational games have been used in many areas including medical
microbiology, pediatrics, geriatrics, nursing, surgery, psychopharmacology, cardiology,
orthopedics, pathology, pharmacotherapeutics, hematology, triage training, clinical neuro-
physiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and urology. A variety of game formats were used
such as a board game,11 a card game,12 a multimedia computer game,13 a game-based debate,14
a simulation game,15 a quiz show game,16 a role-playing game,17 and a word-matching game.18
Most of these games in medical and health sciences education targeted students (both under-
graduate and graduate) and professionals in medicine and health sciences, although some
were developed specically for school children19 or patients.20 These educational games were
designed not only to help them digest factual knowledge but also learn and become procient
in practical skills such as surgery,21 cardiopulmonary resuscitation,22 emergency decision-
making23 and even the management of a medical practice.24
Educational games in healthcare are also used for patient treatment, disease prevention,
and health promotion.25 Gaudet-Blavignac and Geissbuhlers survey looked for serious video
games developed for patients and identied twelve serious video games developed for the
patients use for the purpose of health prevention, improvement in adherence, knowledge,
and self-managing of the disease, therapeutic intervention, and decision support.26 They
found that video games are expanding in this eld.
It should be noted that not all serious games in medicine and health sciences are tech-
nologically sophisticated or graphically elaborate like many popular commercial video games.
Although there are some sophisticated ones, many of the educational games in medicine
and health sciences are relatively simple and straightforward card games, board games, and
quiz-show type games, which do not have to be computer-based and are not necessarily
complex when made into a computer game.
154 Games in Libraries

Reception by Students, Professionals and Patients

Many studies have shown that students and professionals in medicine and health sci-
ences welcome the use of games in the curriculum or training. Kron et al., conducted an
anonymous, 30-item, cross-sectional survey with 217 medical students about the use of
video games and media technologies in medical education.27 The student responses showed
an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards video games. Ninety-eight percent of the
respondents liked the idea of using technology to enhance healthcare education and 80 per-
cent of them believed that video games could have educational value, although there was
signicant gender dissonance over types of favorite games, the educational value of video
games, and the desire to participate in games that realistically replicated the experience of
clinical practice. A similar favorable attitude towards game-based e-learning (GBeL) was
also reported in the study by Lin et al.28 They conducted a survey about one GBeL virology
lesson that was implemented for students of Taipei Medical University who took the courses
of computer applications or medical computer applications. According to the survey results,
the percentage of agreement that the GBeL class was attractive was as high as 81.2 percent,
and about 81.7 percent of students agreed that the GBeL class was more interesting than
the traditional class.29 79.4 percent of them also thought that GBeL enhances interaction.
Another study by Shiroma et al., on medical students perception of a game playing
approach compared to traditional lectures showed that students considered academic games
to be more enjoyable, stimulating and even more effective than traditional lectures in increas-
ing knowledge.30 The fact that students prefer educational games to traditional learning
methods is shown in other studies as well. Kapralos et al., showed that 71 percent of the
survey respondents from various disciplines, including health sciences and engineering, pre-
ferred serious games to traditional learning methods and 88 percent of them believed they
should be incorporated into the curriculum.31 Participants also believed virtual simulations/
serious games offer great potential for the health professions education eld. A study by
OLeary at al. randomized third-year medical students learning about ectopic pregnancy
into two groups, standard lecture and educational Jeopardy style game.32 The satisfaction
survey results showed that students in the group randomized to game format rated their
satisfaction higher in stimulating faculty/student interaction, helping retain information,
and overall enjoyment than students participating in the lecture method.33 Students in the
game group also responded positively that the format was interactive, stimulated their inter-
est, and kept them engaged in class content.34
Furthermore, games appear to have a positive impact on the students perceptions of
and attitudes towards a subject studied. Beylefeld and Struwig studied how a quiz-type
board game entitled Med Micro Fun with Facts was received by medical students studying
medical microbiology.35 Their study found that the game impacted positively on students
perceptions of and attitudes towards medical microbiology as a subject from direct obser-
vations and two questionnaire surveys. Secondary school students who played a multimedia
game, which conveyed knowledge about the consequences of alcohol consumption, in the
study by Klisch et al., were reported not only to have successfully learned the standards-
based science content, but also to have taken a more favorable attitude towards science.36
Educational games proved to be appealing to healthcare practitioners as well. Patow
and Bryan studied how physicians respond to educational games incorporated into the tra-
ditional Continuing Medical Education retreat activities.37 According to their study, pre-
and post-program assessments of the physicians attitudes about the program and his or her
Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 155

knowledge of the subject showed that the participants knowledge about the various topics
discussed increased between 7 percent and 15 percent from pre-program levels. Sixty-ve
percent of participants stated that they expected to change the way they interacted with
patients as a result of the program. And the survey after the program showed that the level
of engagement was highest during the game show, with 88 percent of participants reporting
it as being a favorable experience.
The impact of serious games developed for patients was also shown to be quite positive.
According to Gaudet-Blavignac and Geissbuhler, all twelve serious video games that they
identied through the literature search were shown to be effective in disease prevention,
increase in control and knowledge for the patients, and therapeutic intervention.38

Pedagogical Efcacy
The literature has shown that students, patients, and professionals are all positive about
the use of games for educational purposes. But how effective are they as a pedagogical tool?
Do they improve student learning outcomes? How effective are they compared to the tra-
ditional lecture method or other instructional strategies? There are many single-arm studies
that show that games contribute to the learners knowledge gain. But the methodology of
these single-arm studies is weak because they simply measure the knowledge gain before
and after the use of an educational game without a control group that does not receive the
same intervention. For this reason, single-arm studies do not necessarily remove bias nor
provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of serious games. For example, those who were
exposed to an educational game may have scored higher in their post-test for reasons other
than the use of an educational game. Single-arm studies also cannot tell whether the knowl-
edge gain by an educational game is equivalent to or exceeds that of a different instructional
method or whether the benet of an educational game is worth the time and efforts required
to create one.
Telner et al., noted that although many studies claim that games are as effective as
other learning methods, their claims are often based upon anecdotal evidence and games
have rarely been formally evaluated.39 They used a board game for a continuing medical
education (CME) stroke prevention and management program and compared the effective-
ness of game-based learning to that of case-based learning in terms of attained knowledge
levels.40 CME credits are often required for medical professionals such as physicians and
nurses to maintain their licenses. The results from their study showed that there was no sig-
nicant difference in scoring between the two randomized groups from the two test results,
one immediately after the event and the other 3 months later. A similar conclusion has also
been reached in the systematic review by Blakely, et al.41 A systematic review is a summary
of the literature that uses explicit methods to systematically search, critically appraise, and
synthesize the world literature on a specic issue with the goal of minimizing biases and
random errors.42 Systematic reviews on educational games in medicine and healthcare show
that the studies on the pedagogical efcacy of educational games are suffering from method-
ological shortcomings. Blakely et al., conducted a systematic review of the empirical studies
or the reviews that involved a comparison of gaming with didactic methods.43 According
to their ndings, while both traditional didactic methods and gaming have been successful
in increasing student knowledge, neither method is clearly more helpful to students. They
noted that the use of games, however, generally enhances student enjoyment and may
improve long-term retention of information.44
156 Games in Libraries

A systematic review by Alfarah et al., on educational games in geriatric medicine edu-

cation found eight studies evaluating ve geriatric role playing games.45 None of them
reported a statistically signicant difference between the game group and the non-game
group either in change in attitude or in impact on knowledge, but two studies found levels
of satisfaction among participants to be high.46 Similarly, the systematic review by Bhoopathi
and Sheoran on educational games in mental health in 2007 identied only one randomized
controlled trial (RCT) that compared educational games as teaching strategies with other
methods of learning.47 This trial tested the impact of a board game called Trivia Psychotica,
and on average, students in the game group scored six points more than those who did not
play the game.48 But the fact that there was only one qualied study makes it difcult to
generalize the educational games impact on knowledge gain. In obstetrics and gynecology,
studies have shown that serious games are a stimulating learning method and students are
enthusiastic about its use. But the systematic review in this eld by De Wit-Zuurendonk
and Oei also cautions that although initial studies suggest that serious gaming is likely to
be an effective training method, there is a paucity of studies showing the conclusive clinical
benet of serious gaming and more studies are needed to demonstrate the clinical effective-
ness of serious gaming on skills used in patient care.49
Methodological shortcomings in the studies on educational games were also pointed
out by a broader systemic review on educational games for health professionals in 2008 by
Akl et al.50 Their review identied only one study as having the quality of methodology
acceptable. The study was a randomized controlled trial and compared training strategies
in the setting of an infection control educational program. The game was based on the TV
game show Family Feud. There was a statistically signicant difference in the main effect
of knowledge retention shown in the delayed post-test score in the gaming reinforcement
group compared with the control group, which received no reinforcement. But the difference
appeared only in the patients who played the game after being exposed to the video game
and not after the self-learning module.51 The review by Akl et al., concluded that more and
better evidence are needed to determine the utility of games as a teaching strategy and that
more research of high methodological quality is necessary. A more focused systematic review
on the effect of educational games on medical students learning outcomes including satis-
faction, knowledge, attitude, and skills in 2010 identied only ve eligible randomized con-
trolled trials (RCTs).52 Among these ve RCTs, two found that there was no statistically
signicant difference between educational games and standard lectures in the effect on atti-
tude and knowledge respectively; three of them reported that educational games had the
positive effect on knowledge.53 But the methodological quality of these ve RCTs was not
very high, meeting zero to two out of the four Effective Practice and Organization of Care
(EPOC) methodological quality of criteria. For this reason, the review concluded that the
available evidence to date neither conrm nor refute the utility of educational games as an
effective teaching strategy for medical students and called for additional and better-designed
studies to assess the effectiveness of these games.54

The Optimal Design and Use of Educational Games

In the previous section, we have seen that although there have been a number of studies
on educational games in medicine and healthcare, many of these studies suffered from
methodological shortcomings and failed to produce strong evidence for the pedagogical
Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 157

efcacy of educational games as an instructional strategy comparable to other traditional

teaching methods. This makes it difcult for educational games to be more widely and rou-
tinely utilized as an instructional method. However, it was repeatedly observed in many
studies that students and professionals were enthusiastic about the use of a game. Even
when the initial response was somewhat neutral, a game seems to succeed at engaging learn-
ers. How does a game achieve this?

Game Dynamics, Usability and Validation

Games are played for fun, but the fun does not come from just doing whatever one
feels like doing at the moment. Games lead players to goal-oriented activities in a systematic
way that also motivates them. Games are a mechanism that makes one experience pleasure
by pursuing and achieving a goal following a set of rules, learning whatever information is
required, and building up and exercising knowledge and skills necessary to achieving a goal.
When this process is well-designed, the game allows people to be fully immersed in their
activities with a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process
of the activity. This immersive, active, enjoyable, and focused experience offered by suc-
cessful games is often compared to the optimal experience, named ow by a psychologist
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He noted that this ow experience occurs when the following
conditions are met.
We confront tasks we have a chance of completing.
We must be able to concentrate on what we are doing.
The concentration is usually possible because the task undertaken has clear goals
and provides immediate feedback.
One acts with a deep but effortless involvement that removes from awareness the
worries and frustration of everyday life.
Enjoyable experiences allow people to exercise a sense of control over their
Concern for the self disappears, yet paradoxically the sense of self emerges
stronger after the ow experience is over.
The sense of duration of time is altered; hours pass by in a minutes, and minutes
can stretch out to seem like hours.55
Csikszentmihalyi observed that the combination of all these elements causes a sense of deep
enjoyment that is so rewarding people feel that expending a great deal of energy is worthwhile
simply to be able to feel it.56 This experience stands in stark contrast to the experience that
often results from the traditional lecture-style teaching method. The traditional didactic
method presents the entire content of what is to be learned to the learner in its nal form.57
Students are often disengaged in this learning process and their attention drifts away, which
makes concentration and the digestion of the presented information even more difcult. As
more and more children grow up with video games, it is likely that students expect more
active, fast, engaging, and exploratory learning activities.58
But designing and producing an educational game that offers the ow experience is
not an easy task. For instructional content to be converted into a successful educational
game, learning outcomes should be incorporated into the goals of games, challenging but
achievable tasks that can take people to the goals should be provided, and how to obtain
and build up necessary information and skills to accomplish those tasks should be clearly
158 Games in Libraries

laid out. Another main draw of a game is that it offers immediate feedback to action, a
visible reward for success, a clear sense of progress along the way, and the opportunities to
try again in the case of a failure.
These game dynamics or mechanics are widely discussed among game designers and
are essential to create an engaging game.59 But educators are likely to be unfamiliar with
such game dynamics and cannot be expected to create an effective game on their own. Suc-
cessful educational games require the expertise of game designers as well as that of educators
who are subject experts. However, not many educational games are created with the expertise
of game designers. As a result, they risk becoming a combination of a boring game and
drill-and-kill learning.60 Such games may be educationally sound but wont be able to attract
students and will fail to function as a successful instructional strategy. A study by Kron et
al., showed that the design imperative of any serious medical game is that it should both
teach and be fun.61 Poor graphics and a lack of complex stories also reduce the attraction
of games and makes it hard for the learners to take those games seriously.62 Widemann et
al., also noted that current educational games lack the quality that generates user immer-
sion.63 While educators may regard gaming elements such as graphical representations and
narratives as trivial compared to the educational content, those elements are actually crucial
to the effectiveness of an educational game. Learners wont play a game unless it is fun and
engaging. And if a game is not played, a game will have no chance to deliver its educational
content. Kirriemuir and McFarlanes report listed the four cases in which educational games
fail: (i) too simplistic games, (ii) games with repetitive and boring tasks, (iii) games with
poorly designed tasks that do not support progressive understanding and a limited range
of activities, (iv) games that coerce the player into learning.64 These examples illustrate
what happens when learning content is simply transplanted into the game format without
really harnessing the power of game dynamics.
Another important factor for the success of an educational game, in computer games
in particular, is its usability. Klisch et al., observed that usability was an important factor
for an educational game to produce knowledge gain.65 This makes sense because a game
that is intuitive and easy to play will allow learners to spend less time and effort on deci-
phering how to play the game and enable them to be more quickly immersed in the gameplay
itself. Again, educators will not be able to easily recognize usability issues. It is therefore
crucial for the design process of an educational game to be fully reviewed by both educators
and game designers, so that the game dynamics can be utilized to optimally support and
facilitate learning.
It is also to be noted that not many games in medicine and healthcare currently in use
went through full validation process for their purpose of use. The recent systematic review
by Graaand et al., identied a total of 30 serious games in medicine and healthcare and
reviewed if those games were assessed for achievement of steps in the validation process
according to criteria regarded as best evidence.66 Validity types for games relevant to edu-
cation of medical professionals used in this review were content, face, construct, concurrent,
and predictive validity. Content validity is the degree to which game content adequately
covers the dimensions of the medical construct it aims to educate (or is associated with).
Face validity is the degree of resemblance between medical constructs featured in gameplay
and in reality, as assessed by novices (trainees) and experts (referents). Construct validity
means the inherent difference in the outcome of experts and novices on gameplay outcome
parameters. Concurrent validity is the concordance of study results using a concept instru-
ment (e.g. game) and study results on an established instrument or method, believed to
Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 159

measure the same medical theoretical construct. Predictive validity is the degree of concor-
dance of a concept instrument (e.g. game) outcome and task performance in reality, based
on a validated scoring system. Graaand et al., decided that for a game to meet each of
these validity types, it should go through the following evaluation process:
Content validity Uniform and positive evaluation of game content and
associated testing parameters by expert medical specialist panel
Face validity Uniform and positive evaluation of the game as a valuable learning
environment among novice and expert medical specialists
Construct validity Outcome differences considered to be of signicance between
players of different medical specialist level of skill
Concurrent validity -Outcome parameters show correlation considered to be
signicant between game and an alternative, established training method
Predictive validity Metrics show correlation considered to be signicant between
outcome parameters of a game and performance results on the medical construct
featured in the game in real life after performers have been trained using the
The games were divided into two categories: those developed for specic educational pur-
poses and commercial games also useful for developing skills relevant to medical personnel.
Among the thirty games, only six, three developed for team training in critical care and
triage and three commercial games for training laparoscopic psychomotor skills, had a process
of validation. Graaand et al., found that none of the serious games had completed a full
validation process for the purpose of use.68
It is important to understand that educational games need to go through a more strict
evaluation in all of these four areas. Without the validation of educational games, their
effectiveness as an instructional method can be questioned, and educators will naturally
wonder if adopting and implementing a game would be a worthwhile investment of their
time and whether a game would improve student learning outcomes.

Use vs. Integration

So far, we have seen that although there are many studies about educational games in
medicine and healthcare, the majority of those studies had methodological shortcomings
and failed to produce strong evidence for a games pedagogical efcacy when compared to
other instructional methods. In the previous section, we have also seen that many educational
games in medicine and healthcare are currently being used without a full validation process
for the purpose of their use. This certainly needs to change. However, we also need to
understand that assessing the effectiveness of an educational game is not an easy task because
there are many variables to be considered.
In her article, Why games dont teach, Ruth Clark points out that although com-
mercial educational games are unarguably popular, there is scarce credible evidence on how
and when to best use games to improve instructional outcomes and motivation.69 For exam-
ple, there are many different types of games, and different types of games have different
impacts on learning. According to Van Eck, not all games will be equally effective at all
levels of learning and it is critical that we understand how different types of games work
and how game taxonomies align with learning taxonomies.70 That is, we need to look at
what type of game is best suited for a specic learning goal. He states that for example, card
160 Games in Libraries

games will be best for promoting the ability to match concepts, manipulate numbers, and
recognize patterns; Jeopardy-style games are likely to be best for promoting the learning of
verbal information (facts, labels, and propositions) and concrete concepts; Arcade-style are
likely to be best at promoting speed of response, automaticity, and visual processing; Adven-
ture games, which are narrative-driven open-ended learning environments, are likely to be
best for promoting hypothesis testing and problem solving.71 Game types can be also blended
and combined with one another.
There are also other variables that complicate the assessment of the effectiveness of an
educational game. Some educational content is more effectively learned through a game while
others are not likely to be so. For example, it seems pretty clear that educational games will
be benecial when they are used for unpacking complex and abstract knowledge or for
obtaining and improving hands-on skills. Both intellectual and practical exploration in a
game and the experience of personal trial and error would facilitate digesting abstract knowl-
edge and mastering hands-on skills. On the other hand, simple how-to information may
be best delivered without a game. For this type of content, going through the gameplay
process can be an ineffective method of learning. For example, a recent study by Adams et
al., argued that their ndings contradict the discovery hypothesis that students learn better
when they do hands-on activities in engaging scenarios during learning and the narrative
hypothesis that students learn better when games have a strong narrative theme.72 But this
argument is misleading because it is based upon the assumption that these two hypotheses
are true regardless of the content that is taught.
It is also to be noted that games can be useful for some students, while less so for
others. For example, those who have no trouble absorbing a large amount of information
through the lecture style instruction may nd a game to be a roundabout way to achieve
the same goal. On the other hand, those who need guidance and external motivation may
nd a game much more benecial to them. Kanthan and Senger discovered that after an
educational game was used, academic performance outcomes improved, especially for stu-
dents at the lower end of the scale than stronger students and noted that this is consistent
with the literatures suggestion that digital gaming is most effective for students with less
self-motivation and lower grades.73 This means that not all students will be affected similarly
by a game and that games can be used as an additional resource for some students to max-
imize their benet. Some of the student responses about educational games in a study by
Kapralos et al., express similar ideas.74 A student wrote in the survey response, While edu-
cational games can offer a great value to education, a serious game could only very rarely
be the only component of a course. When executed properly, a serious game is an invaluable
supplement.75 Another student noted that games should be applied as learning methods
only as a complement in education and education cannot rely entirely on them even when
high realism levels are reached.76 Students also may respond differently to the type of game
such as role playing, puzzle, strategy, according to their gender, personally preferred learning
style, or the level of previous knowledge on a given subject. For example, Kron et al., found
that female students were about 35 percent as likely as male students to enjoy the competitive
aspects of the video games.77
Whether a game is of the type that is most suitable for the learning content in question,
whether the learning content itself is suitable for a game in the rst place, students previous
knowledge, and what their individual preference for a type of game is are all variables that
make assessing a games pedagogical efcacy extremely difcult. We can also add what we
have discussed earlier, that is, whether a game is successfully harnessing the power of game
Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 161

dynamics to balance the fun and the educational part; whether a game is usable, that is,
easy to learn how to play; and whether a game offers an immersive experience as additional
variables. Furthermore, factors such as the level of learning a game is used at, whether a
game is used prior to, before, or together with formal instruction,78 and whether it is well
integrated into the instruction itself or remains extraneous are all likely to make a difference
in the effectiveness of a game.
Simply including a game in the instruction doesnt mean that students will automatically
benet. It is not the adoption of a game per se but the right implementation of a game that
matters. There is a big difference between using a game during instruction and integrating
a game into instruction as Van Eck aptly noted.79 The latter requires a careful analysis of
the strengths and weaknesses of a game, as well as its alignment with formal instructional
strategies and learning outcomes. Both the game and instruction have to be adjusted to
maximize their impact on learning. And in order to be able to integrate a game into instruc-
tion this way, it is necessary that instructors understand all of the variables related to the
effectiveness of a game and how they inuence the students learning process.

Supporting Environment for Educators

Blakely et al., studied educator perspectives on games as a teaching strategy.80 Their
survey responses from and interviews with over a hundred educators in total showed that
when educators decide whether to use classroom games or not, they consider three factors:
(i) reective practice, (ii) the impact of games on students, and (iii) the impact of logistical
factors.81 That is, educators are likely to use games if the assessment of their own performance
with the games and the impact of the games on students are positive. However, logistical
factors such as large classes and the need for preparation time had a negative impact on the
educators willingness to use games. Blakely et al., noted that similar constraints might
restrict the use of active learning strategies such as simulation.82
The fact that games and other active learning strategies generally require more time
for creation, preparation, and execution seems to go together with the fact that these are
strategies for active learning. In active learning, instructors need to not only deliver the
information and knowledge but also design the learning experience itself with additional
mechanisms. And students benet from going through that experience by themselves. But
that crucial aspect of experiencing inevitably takes time. Since students become active agents
in active learning, instructors also have to accommodate the fact that games and other active
learning strategies will make it hard to keep control in their classroom setting. This can
make instructors who are unfamiliar or inexperienced with a game uncomfortable.
Active learning is, however, often crucial for students and professionals in medicine
and healthcare. For example, educational games provide active experiential learning,
in which learners can repeatedly try and test their knowledge and skills until they master
them. This will directly relate to the reduction of costly medical errors. Therefore, additional
support and practical guidance are necessary to encourage educators to incorporate
active learning strategies, such as games and simulation, in a way that would be most bene-
We have already seen that educational games need to be carefully designed for the suit-
able content and should be applied to the right students in the context in which its use will
maximize its benet to learning. The question is what kind of practical guidance and support
should be given to instructors because the ultimate success of educational games as a medium
162 Games in Libraries

for learning will depend on their adoption and implementation by teachers, as Kanthan et
al., correctly noted.83
Since many instructors are unfamiliar with how games work to engage game players
and how these game dynamics can be harnessed in an educational game, it would be quite
benecial if this information is clearly laid out rst. Instructors are often short on time
preparing for their teaching. So creating or adopting a new instructional strategy can be
seen as an extra burden. In order to alleviate this burden, practical guidance for how (when,
with whom, and under what conditions) games can be integrated into the learning process
to maximize their learning potential should be provided as Van Eck suggested.84 Ideally,
they should be given a number of examples of educational games with sufcient information
about which type of game is best suited for any given type of instructional goal, content,
and environment. The resources and the training that will enable them to critically assess
the strengths and weaknesses of a particular game should also be provided. This will help
them when they need to perform the same evaluation of a game for their own instruction.
When instructors are condent about a games positive impact on students as well as their
own performance with games, they will be more likely to integrate games into their instruc-
tion. Last but not least, technical and administrative support should be offered to the edu-
cators who are interested in creating a new educational game or adapting an existing one.
We have emphasized before how crucial the expertise of game design can be in developing
a successful game. Educators should be given a chance to collaborate with game designers.

The Potential of Serious Games in Medical and

Health Sciences Libraries
Although there are many educational games in use in medicine and healthcare, the
games seem to be little used by medical or health sciences libraries according to the literature.
A search in the Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA) for this topic game*
library* (medicine OR medical) AND health science* yields only a few relevant results.
This stands in stark contrast with a much larger volume of literature on libraries and games
in general. A simple search in LISA game* and academic library produces as many as
90 hits.

Games Used in Medical and Health Sciences Libraries

Two health science libraries used games for health promotion and outreach. Robert
M. Bird Health Sciences Library at Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center (OUHSC)
collaborated with school and public libraries with a health information outreach project
named One, Two, Wii: Get Fit and Health Savvy @ Your Library in 20102011.85 The target
groups were school students and public library patrons. The project involved setting up six
Wii/Wii Fit Plus systems at four elementary school libraries in the Norman Public Schools
(Norman, Oklahoma) and two branch libraries in the Chickasaw Regional Library (CRL)
System based in Ardmore, Oklahoma. None of these six libraries had a Wii before this proj-
ect. Each library decided where to place the equipment and how to facilitate any informal
or impromptu use of the systems and the ve Wii games in providing programming and
other services to their user populations. The OUHSC Bird library faculty met regularly
with the project partners. CRL used Wii systems to augment existing activities with groups,
Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 163

such as their teen book club and at special events. Wii systems were also used for staff devel-
opment activities to help library staff become more comfortable with games and brainstorm
ways to utilize the Wii systems in library programming. Wii systems at school libraries were
also well received and helped students to increase their physical activities.
This success led to another project of creating two health information resource kits in
20112012 that will be circulated to schools, churches, community-based organizations, and
other entities that are interested in providing programming focused on health information.86
The kit was planned to include Wii/Wii Fit Plus systems and games for two players, a pro-
gramming manual that provides ideas for health fairs, classes, and other wellness events,
along with suggestions for incorporating Wii systems into these events, and a list of available
promotional materials for MedlinePlus and other National Library of Medicine resources.
Clifton et al., concluded that the Wii system is a good tool to engage health consumers,
introduce health/wellness information, and promote health information resources and the
ease of use and the variety of games for the Wii contribute to the adaptability of the resource
kits to diverse venues and target populations, thereby providing an added dimension to
health information outreach programming.87
Another example of the use of a game in a health sciences library setting is found in
the article by Woodson et al.88 In 2009, the medical librarians at the Louisiana State Uni-
versity Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) worked on a health awareness outreach project
for local children in collaboration with the public libraries. The medical librarians selected
and read health-related childrens stories during the scheduled story times at the Shreve
Memorial Public Library branches. After the story had been read, the children participated
in an enrichment activity designed to reinforce the concepts presented in the story.89 Among
these activities, two of them took the form of a game.
One was called the Heart Smart game, and was located on the North Carolina Physical
Education website. It taught children to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy habits
and explained the basic functions of the heart.90 In this game, the children learned about
the heart and the various activities that were either good or bad for the heart. Library faculty
developed cards that represent a particular activity such as smoking or eating vegetables.
When shown the card, the kids jumped if the activity was good for the heart and squatted
if it was bad. The other one was the Grocery Bag game designed by the medical librarians
at LSUHSC.91 In this game, children were shown cards that represented different types of
food in their imaginary adventure to a grocery store. If the food on the card was healthy,
the children yelled yay, and the card was placed in a grocery bag. If the food item was
not healthy, they yelled boo, and the item was put back on the shelf.92 Woodson et al.,
considered this outreach program as a great success. They also noted that tedious health
information could be presented in a more interesting manner, using stories and activities
such as games.

More Opportunities for Medical and Health Sciences Libraries

The previous two examples of game use at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences
Center and the Louisiana University Health Sciences Center were both for the purpose of
health promotion and outreach. In the case of the Wii project, physical activities were
encouraged through the use of the Wii Fit game console and relevant health information
provided with it. On the other hand, the games in the second case were used after a health-
related childrens story was read, and the purpose was more educational. These examples
164 Games in Libraries

show that the adoption of games for health outreach programs can be a good way to engage
target populations and to increase awareness of health information.
But the use of an educational game doesnt have to be limited to health promotion
programs for the public. A recent review of digital games in academic libraries by Broussard
shows that many original online library games are used for educational purposes and a few
are used for outreach purposes.93 For example, many medical and health sciences libraries
offer a library orientation or information session for new students. Some medical and health
sciences libraries also provide a formal credit course about medical information management
for medical students as part of the curriculum. Games can be used for both library orientation
and a formal credit course to improve the students engagement and learning outcomes.
Medical and health sciences librarians can also assist faculty members in adopting and
implementing an educational game for courses. Since many faculty members are unfamiliar
with educational games and how they can be incorporated into courses, the knowledge of
medical and health sciences librarians on this topic would be a valuable asset. Games and
game-based learning are a popular research topic among educators in medicine and health
sciences. The collaboration between librarians and medical educators would create synergy
in this area. But if the faculty members are not already aware of the benet of educational
games nor have existing interest in utilizing them, librarians will need to take the initiative
to make faculty members aware of the potential of educational games. For instance, medical
and health sciences librarians can create a list of games that can be easily adapted for faculty
use with detailed information about the type of game, the game topic, the target group,
whether it is a multi-player or a single-player game, how long it takes to set up the game
and let students play for a round or two, etc. These logistical details are crucial for educators
to decide whether to adopt a game or not for courses.
Another good area for medical and health sciences libraries to utilize a game is health
literacy for patients and their families and caretakers. Health literacy is dened in the Insti-
tute of Medicine report, Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion, as the degree to
which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health infor-
mation and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.94 It includes the ability
to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical educa-
tion brochures, doctors directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex
health care systems.95 Most medical and health sciences libraries and hospital libraries con-
sider providing quality health information and promoting health literacy as part of their
mission. By developing and using games for this purpose, these libraries will be able to
reach more health consumers in an engaging way and spread and promote health literacy.
Games used in this area will serve both educational and outreach purposes but can be
designed to be more educational depending on the topic, the target audience, and the envi-
ronment in which a game is implemented.
While there are not many educational games in medical and health science libraries
reported in the literature, games are widely used and researched as a pedagogical method
in medicine and healthcare. Academic libraries outside of medicine and health sciences have
been actively exploring the use of educational games to improve the students library research
skills and information literacy skills. Medical and health sciences librarians should take cues
from the literature in both of these areas, i.e. the use of games in medicine and healthcare
and in academic libraries, to develop the optimal strategy to harness the power of games
for their library patrons in the areas of library instruction, a formal credit course in cur-
riculum, and consumer health education.
Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 165

To those who are unfamiliar with games and are not avid gamers themselves, applying
an educational game to library instruction, a credit course, or health literacy can appear to
be a daunting task. But as Broussard points out, it is not necessary for an educational game
to be the most technically impressive or graphically appealing in order to achieve its goal.96
Educators in medicine and health care also reported success in using relatively simple card
or board games to improve student engagement and knowledge gain. Since it is unlikely
for medical and health sciences libraries to be able to allocate a large amount of funding to
develop their own games, return on investment will be maximized by simple games that are
well integrated into instruction.
What we have discussed in this chapter: (i) the mechanism in which game dynamics
operate to engage and motivate players, (ii) the difculty of assessing the pedagogical efcacy
of an educational game, (iii) several variables that need to be taken into consideration to
draw the maximum benet out of a game embedded in instruction, and (iv) the importance
of technical and logistical support for instructors are all important for medical and health
sciences librarians that are interested in exploring educational games. Creativity and imag-
ination will make educational games a useful tool in the toolbox for medical and health sci-
ences librarians. By exploring their role in educational games, medical and health sciences
librarians will also be able to keep abreast of the society-wide trends of gamication.97

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34. Ibid.
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43. Blakely, et al., Educational Gaming in the Health Sciences.
Learning with Games in Medicine (Kim) 167

44. Ibid., 267.

45. Ziad Alfarah, Holger J. Schnemann, and Elie A. Akl, Educational Games in Geriatric Medicine
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49. De Wit-Zuurendonk and Oei, Serious Gaming in Womens Health Care.
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51. Ibid., 5.
52. Akl, et al., The Effect of Educational Games on Medical Students Learning Outcomes.
53. Ibid., 23.
54. Ibid., 16.
55. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psycholog y of Optimal Experience, 1st ed. (Harpercollins Publisher,
1990), 49.
56. Ibid.
57. David P. Ausubel, Educational Psycholog y: A Cognitive View (Holt, Rinehart & Winston of Canada
Ltd, 1968), quoted in Bhoopathi, Sheoran, and Adams, Educational Games for Mental Health Professionals,
58. John Kirriemuir and Angela McFarlane, Games and Learning (Futurelab, March 2004), http://archive.
futurelab. org. uk/resources/publications-reports-articles/literature-reviews/Literature-Review378.
59. Erick Schonfeld, SCVNGRs Secret Game Mechanics Playdeck, TechCrunch, August 25, 2010,
60. Richard Van Eck, Digital Game-Based Learning: Its Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless,
EDUCAUSE Review 41, no. 2 (April 2006): 1630.
61. Kron, et al., Medical Student Attitudes toward Video Games and Related New Media Technologies
in Medical Education, 6.
62. Kapralos, et al., Serious Games in the Classroom.
63. Wideman, et al., Unpacking the Potential of Educational Gaming, 14.
64. Kirriemuir and McFarlane, Games and Learning, 4.
65. Klisch, et al., Teaching the Biological Consequences of Alcohol Abuse Through an Online Game, 100.
66. Graaand, Schraagen, and Schijven, Systematic Review of Serious Games for Medical Education and
Surgical Skills Training.
67. Ibid., 1324.
68. Ibid.
69. Ruth Clark, Why Games Dont Teach, American Society for Training & Development, April 30, 2012,
70. Van Eck, Digital Game-Based Learning: Its Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless, 12.
71. Ibid.
72. Deanne M. Adams, et al., Narrative Games for Learning : Testing the Discovery and Narrative
Hypotheses, Journal of Educational Psycholog y 104, no. 1 (2012): 235249, doi:10.1037/a0025595.
73. Kanthan and Senger, The Impact of Specially Designed Digital Games-Based Learning in Under-
graduate Pathology and Medical Education.
74. Kapralos, et al., Serious Games in the Classroom.
75. Ibid., 259.
76. Ibid.
77. Kron, et al., Medical Student Attitudes toward Video Games and Related New Media Technologies
in Medical Education, 7.
78. G. W. Bright, J. G. Harvey, and M. M. Wheeler, Learning and Mathematics Games, Journal for
Research in Mathematics Education (1985), no. 1., quoted in Van Eck, Digital Game-Based Learning: Its Not
Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless.
79. Ibid., 29.
80. Gillian Blakely, et al., Use of Educational Games in the Health Professions: A Mixed-Methods Study
of Educators Perspectives in the UK, Nursing & Health Sciences 12, no. 1 (March 2010): 2732, doi:10.1111/
81. Ibid.
82. Ibid., 3132.
83. Kanthan and Senger, The Impact of Specially Designed Digital Games-Based Learning in Under-
graduate Pathology and Medical Education, 141.
168 Games in Libraries

84. Van Eck, Digital Game-Based Learning: Its Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless.
85. Shari Clifton, Phill Jo, and Scott Jackson, Incorporating Wiis into Health Information Outreach
Activities, Journal of Hospital Librarianship 12, no. 3 (2012): 258265.
86. Ibid., 262.
87. Ibid., 263.
88. Deidra E. Woodson, Donna F. Timm, and Dee Jones, Teaching Kids about Healthy Lifestyles through
Stories and Games: Partnering with Public Libraries to Reach Local Children, Journal of Hospital Librarianship
11, no. 1 (2011): 5969, doi:
89. Ibid., 62.
90. Ibid., 64.
91. Ibid., 6566.
92. Ibid.
93. Mary Snyder Broussard, Digital Games in Academic Libraries: A Review of Games and Suggested
Best Practices, Reference Services Review 40, no. 1 (2012): 7589, doi:
94. Lynn Nielsen-Bohlman, Allison M. Panzer, and David A. Kindig, eds., Health Literacy: A Prescription
to End Confusion (The National Academies Press, 2004),,
quoted in Penny Glassman, Health Literacy, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, accessed March 2,
95. Ibid.
96. Broussard, Digital Games in Academic Libraries, 79.
97. Seth Priebatsch, Welcome to the Decade of Games, Harvard Business Review Blog Network (blog),
September 9, 2010, html.

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Akl, Elie A., Richard W. Pretorius, Kay Sackett, W. Scott Erdley, Paranthaman S. Bhoopathi, Ziad Alfarah,
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Game for Off-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery Procedure Training. Studies in Health Technolog y
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Creutzfeldt, Johan, Leif Hedman, and Li Fellnder-Tsai. Effects of Pre-Training Using Serious Game Tech-
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Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psycholog y of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
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Adriaenssens, et al. Developing e-Bug Web Games to Teach Microbiology. The Journal of Antimicrobial
Chemotherapy 66, Supplement 5 ( June 2011): v3338. doi:10.1093/jac/dkr121.
Gaudet-Blavignac, C., and A. Geissbuhler. Serious Games in Health Care: A Survey. Yearbook of Medical
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http://nnlm. gov/outreach/consumer/hlthlit. html.
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Searching for Blackbeards Treasure:
Using an Interactive Information
Literacy Game to Reach
Transfer Students

In August 2012, librarians at the University of South Carolina Upstate invited incoming
transfer students to play our new information literacy game, Blackbeards Treasure, for the
rst time. The game is the result of a three-year development of our outreach to transfer
students, who make up as much as one-half of new students each semester. It is based to a
large degree on a tutorial that we had been administering to transfer students on a voluntary
basis through the test feature of the Blackboard course management system. The transfor-
mation of a test-like tutorial into an interactive online game, taking account of the educa-
tional goals and the creative process, is one aspect of our story. But of equal importance is
the story of the collaborations we developed with administrators, faculty, students, and staff
that allowed us to achieve this undertaking.

Why Transfer Students?

The library and education literature on transfer students is small, but covers several
decades. One theme that emerges with some consistency is that outreach to transfer students
needs to be separate from outreach to freshman students. In an important article, Latrice
E. Eggleston and Frankie Santos Laanan cite research that shows the needs of transfer stu-
dents are often different from those of other new students, involving adjustment to the cul-
ture of a new institution as well as issues in articulation, registration, nancial aid, and
increased academic demands.1
Another theme that emerges from the literature is that academic libraries have generally
made only minimal efforts to reach out to transfers. The paucity of specic library outreach
to transfer students was noted as long ago as 1992 by Jennifer Cox and Ralph Johnson,2 and
again in 2001 by Eggleston and Laanan.3 As recently as 2010, John C. Phillips and Thomas
A. Atwood lament that academic libraries in Ohio have made little progress in this regard
and call for a professional dialog.4 This does not mean that academic librarians have ignored
the issue entirely, or that some libraries have not made signicant progress in addressing the
problem. Research conducted by Gail M. Staines in the 1990s showed that librarians at

172 Games in Libraries

both community colleges and four-year institutions were aware of transfer student needs,
even though faculty expectations led to differences in information literacy instructional
design at each type of institution: the community college librarians focusing more on basic
skills and catch-up and librarians at four-year institutions more on in-depth skills. While
librarians at both types of institutions favored credit-bearing information literacy courses
as the preferred way to teach these skills, relatively few of these courses are documented in
Stainess survey.5
Specic examples of library outreach to transfer students include credit courses aimed
at transfers,6 orientation workshops exclusive to transfers,7 specic outreach materials and
events,8 and collaboration with writing centers.9 Transfer students, it seems, would welcome
such outreach, according to a 2004 survey conducted by Sylvia G. Tag at Western Wash-
ington University. She found transfer students to be enthusiastic about using the library,
and her ndings led to several library initiatives including outreach through campus newslet-
ters and a dedicated web page for transfers.10
Unfortunately, while many of us are aware of the unique needs of transfer students,
and while many of us have taken small steps to reach out to them, there are several factors
that tend to hinder our efforts. To begin with, transfer students are difcult to reach as a
group. They may transfer early or late in their academic career, they may take courses on
a main or branch campus or online, and they may not identify with other transfer students
as a distinct group. They are often at a point in their degree program at which they do not
take introductory or general education courses, meaning there are no courses in which a
critical mass of new transfer students will be enrolled. In addition, institutional policies,
procedures, and priorities often mitigate against effective outreach to transfer students.11
Finally, the many duties library and teaching faculty perform on a daily basis often prevent
us from nding adequate time for a sustained effort. Yet reaching out to these students in
some consistent way is vital to ensure a successful transition to their new environment and
persistence in attaining their degrees.
These issues particularly resonate for us at USC Upstate. A senior campus of the Uni-
versity of South Carolina system, we are the only four-year public institution in the
Greenville-Spartanburg metropolitan area. Our metropolitan mission focuses especially
on the needs of Upstate South Carolina communities and in increasing the proportion
of baccalaureate degrees in the region, which is low by national standards. We have a
student enrollment of around 5000 FTE (the head count is slightly higher) and offer 22
degree programs on our main campus in Spartanburg and 12 programs at the University
Center in Greenville. We have an increasing number of online and hybrid courses offered
to students on the Spartanburg and Greenville campuses as well as to distance education
Our transfer students typically make up around 48 percent of new students in fall
semester, and more than half of graduating students entered as transfers (the number in
spring 2012 was 57 percent). They make up 40 percent of students on the Spartanburg
campus and comprise most of the Upstate students at the University Center of Greenville,
where students normally take the nal two years of a degree program. Half of our transfer
students come from community and technical colleges, helped by articulation agreements
and a new Direct Connect program that eases the process of admissions and transfer. As
these numbers indicate, our transfer students are important to us. The question they raise
for the library is, how can we best reach out to them?
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure (Kearns, B. Kirsch and Vidas) 173

Library Instruction at USC Upstate

USC Upstate has an active library instruction program serving both rst-year and
upper-level courses. Our First Year Information Literacy Program is a course-integrated
program in collaboration with three rst-year courses in which most freshmen are enrolled:
University 101 (the freshman seminar) and the two-semester Composition sequence. Teach-
ing foundational skills in information literacy is a collaborative effort between the classroom
and library faculty, and each course has a mandated library session.12 For other general edu-
cation courses and upper-level courses, we provide library instruction on demand through
our subject liaison program. While largely up to the course instructor to request such instruc-
tion, we have developed excellent and ongoing relationships with the classroom faculty over
the years, and there is a great consistency in library instruction in several disciplines, especially
for senior seminars and research methods courses. Finally, we have begun offering plagiarism
workshops, which are popular among faculty who teach both rst-year and upper-level
courses. Yet, as active as our instruction program is, this structure does not permit us to
reach transfer students in a consistent way. If they are lucky, they may have a library instruc-
tion session in a research methods course or even a senior seminar. Not infrequently do ref-
erence librarians encounter students in their senior year who are making use of the library
for the rst time.

The Foundation in Information Literacy

How to address this instruction gap? USC Upstate has no common course or set of
activities in which all transfer students participate, with the exception of a special transfer
student orientation run by the admissions ofce. We had to consider two things: (1) we
really did not know what kind of information literacy training our transfer students may
have had. In spite of articulation agreements that gave credit for general education courses
such as Composition I and II, we had no good way of knowing how these skills had been
taught. Coming from several other institutions at different stages in their academic careers,
we had to assume that transfer students would have a wide range of information literacy
skills from procient to poor. (2) There are also things specic to our institution that new
students need to know regardless of how much previous training they may have had, chief
among them the physical layout and specic services of our library, how to access our par-
ticular selection of online resources, the idiosyncrasies of our library catalog and the way
we locate journal issues and full-text articles.
Our answer was the Foundation in Information Literacy, which we soon dubbed FIL
for short. FIL was designed as an inventory of research skills administered through the
test feature of the Blackboard course management system. We deliberately avoided calling
FIL a tutorial, because only some of the questions contain an instructional component, or
a test, because we were not testing students on skills we had taught them. Rather, the idea
of FIL was to allow students to compare their prociency with skills and concepts at the
level of students who had completed Composition II and the First Year Information Literacy
We were encouraged to create FIL as an online tutorial by Mary Theokas, assistant
vice chancellor for student success and director of the Student Success Center. It was to be
administered through the admissions process, and so we also collaborated with Donette
174 Games in Libraries

Stewart, the assistant vice chancellor for enrollment services. We had a Blackboard course
created for us to house FIL, and Enrollment Services added student names to the course as
they were enrolled. We attended transfer student orientations and sent out announcement
postcards to market FIL, and we sent additional announcements by email through the Black-
board course. As an added incentive, we entered the names of students who completed FIL
into a drawing for gift certicates.
Because it was to be administered to students on a voluntary basis, we designed FIL
to be taken in 30 minutes or less. It consisted of 15 questions in multiple choice and matching
formats covering a series of topics addressing the Association of College and Research
Libraries Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The sequence of
questions takes students through research situations relating to each of the ve information
literacy standards and ends with a question that introduces the concept of information lit-
eracy and the ve standards. This last was important for us because we teach an adaptation
of the ve standards as a model of the research process in our rst-year program. Most of
the questions contain very little instructional introduction, the exceptions being Library
of Congress classication, information literacy as a concept both of which we felt we
could not expect students to have learned elsewhere and two questions addressing specic
aspects of our local situation: how location and status are displayed in our catalog and how
we locate journal articles through TDNet (which we call Journal Finder), our journal man-
agement system. We revised these questions during the ve semesters we administered FIL
and were generally pleased with them. They became the basis, though in some cases heavily
revised, for the question sequence in Blackbeards Treasure.
We administered FIL ve times between spring 2010 and spring 2012. Participation rates
were generally between 10 percent and 21 percent, which is good considering completion of
the inventory was voluntary. The overall numbers show a decline in transfer enrollment during

Foundation in Information Literacy question sequence showing the topic and standard or stan-
dards from the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (ACRL, 2000)
that each addresses.
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure (Kearns, B. Kirsch and Vidas) 175

Response Rates for ve administrations of the Foundation in Information Literacy.

the last three administrations, when FIL was targeted specically at students with fewer than
60 hours of transfer credit.13 The scores students achieved were remarkably consistent, ranging
between 56 percent and 60 percent correct answers. While low by conventional testing stan-
dards, FIL was never intended to be a conventional test, and we feel we gained some excellent
insights into students information literacy skills because we were able to observe individual
scores and how students answered individual questions.14
By these measures, FIL was a moderate success, but we did have some issues with it.
First, as a voluntary activity, how could we make FIL a more attractive prospect for students
to complete? Secondly, although marketed and described as an inventory, we could not
do anything about the Blackboard test feature that has test written all over it, and the
very format of FIL gave it the undeniable feel of a test. Finally, while feedback on individual
questions is present in Blackboard, and while we provided such feedback, students had to
complete FIL before they could choose to view the feedback along with their answers. We
feared that students may not be taking the time to do that, and thus missing out on a crucial
aspect of the learning experience.

Creating Blackbeards Treasure

During fall semester 2011, the team of librarians working on FIL agreed on a new direc-
tion: a more interactive, game-like approach that would preserve the question format, but
176 Games in Libraries

give instant feedback when a student selected an answer. If incorrect, the student would be
allowed to keep selecting answers until the right one was chosen, making the game an active
learning experience. Questions would be placed within a larger game-like scenario that
would be more engaging for students. Scoring would count a students rst answer choices
so that we had some indication of the level of knowledge and skill each student brought to
the game, and we wanted to be able to retain the ability to have aggregate data on the
different questions. We had a model for the kind of game we envisioned in the Goblin
Threat plagiarism prevention game created by Mary Broussard of Lycoming College; we
liked that Goblin Threat is a point-and-click casual game, easy to play and interact with.15
The game has a storyline of goblins taking over the school and students need to answer
questions about plagiarism correctly in order for the goblins to disappear and the school to
be saved. During the course of the game students work through different rooms (associated
with levels of play) on campus, answering multiple choice or matching questions.16
The librarians involved with FIL met a few times to think about what we wanted the
game to be like. First we discussed how we could embed the research process into a game.
We decided to retain from FIL the question sequence related to the ve information literacy
standards, but to group the standards into game levels associated with specic campus loca-
tions: a classroom for Standard 1 (know the information need), the library reference area
and a group study room for Standard 2 (access the needed information), and a dorm room
for Standards 35 (evaluating information, using information effectively and ethically). The
idea of a research-based game the act of searching or looking for something led us to
the idea of trying to nd buried treasure, which led us to a pirate theme. We also liked the
fact that there is a bit of pirate history associated with South Carolina. Blackbeard took
over a cargo ship in Charleston, South Carolina and held hostages for the ransom of a
medical chest with remedies.17
From there we brainstormed and created a story board on the white board in our con-
ference room to map out how we thought the game could incorporate our original 15 ques-
tions from the Blackboard version of FIL into a pirate scenario. Our concept went through
a few iterations before we t all of the concepts in the 15 questions into the various levels
and locations we had chosen. We mapped out an introduction to the game, which involved
a parrot ying from the coast to deposit a treasure chest in Upstate South Carolina. We
came up with the idea of using different places on campus for different levels of the game
and to associate them with questions corresponding to parts of the research process. We
came up with the idea that a clue to nding the treasure would be given at the end of each
round and conceived of an elaborate nale in which these clues would answer a riddle that
reveals the treasure the information literacy standards as research process at the feet of
Blackbeard the pirate, at the wheel of his ship on a storm-tossed sea (of course)!
Now that we had an idea of what we wanted to create, we had the task of guring out
how to go about creating an instructional game. None of the librarians working on FIL had
enough programming experience to be able to develop an instructional game on our own.
So we approached one of the computer science professors, Dr. Sebastian Van Delden about
our ideas for creating an interactive game for transfer students. Dr. Van Delden was enthu-
siastic about the idea of collaborating with the librarians to create a functional game to
measure information literacy skills.
Our computer science students sometimes complete independent projects that count
towards course credit, similar to an internship or independent research project in other dis-
ciplines. Dr. Van Delden recruited one of the computer science students, Cory Bohon to
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure (Kearns, B. Kirsch and Vidas) 177

work independently over the course of a semester to create an interactive game for the librar-
ian FIL team. Cory would work on the project after getting guidance from both us and Dr.
Van Delden in the spring semester of 2012.
We met with Cory to provide him with our ideas from storyboarding and what wed
like to see in the game if possible. We also discussed which programming languages we
wanted to use to create the game. The librarians wanted transfer students to be able to play
the game on mobile devices as well as laptops and desktop computers, also across multiple
platforms. As librarians, we were very conscious of usability issues with different program-
ming languages. Since Flash does not work on iPads and other Apple products, we decided
not to work with Macromedia Flash, even though Goblin Threat (the model for the type
of game we wanted to develop) was created with Macromedia Flash.18
After speaking with some of our computer science faculty and more discussions, we
decided that HTML5 would be the best language to create our game to make it accessible
to the most students on the most devices because HTML5 is more exible and compatible
across multiple platforms. HTML5 is also becoming the new web standard for animations,
which makes it a good alternative to Flash, according to Dr. Van Delden. Cory said he
would use Tumult Hype, a web design app, which would allow him to create HTML5 web
content with interactive animations that would work on the devices our students would be
using. Tumult Hype is an app that Apple veterans created and can be used on Apple devices.19
Two librarians have Apple products as home computers, so they would be able to edit the
game as needed in the future. Because our ofce computers are windows based, these librar-
ians need to work on home computers to edit the game.
Cory was able to meet with our librarian group a few times throughout the semester
to show us what he was working on and allowing us to give feedback as he was creating the
game. Overall, we were very pleased with what Cory was able to develop for us over the
course of a semester. We were fortunate that Cory was a diligent worker to complete the
game for us and edit it, even after the semester had ended. Cory told us that the most chal-
lenging part of designing the game was also the most enjoyable: creating the graphics. Since
Cory was more familiar with the programming side of things and less familiar with the cre-
ative side of design, he said he appreciated learning how to use Photoshop to sculpt many
of the images in the game.
We also asked Cory if he thought the game provided a good check of information lit-
eracy skills. He had participated in our in-class library instruction sessions during his rst
year program and was familiar with what we cover in those sessions that transfer students
are missing, so his response was very helpful to us in determining if this game would help
transfer students in the manner that we were hoping it would. Cory stated, Yes, I feel that
the game provides a lot of valuable information for incoming students. When I rst started
at Upstate, we had the literacy skills workshop in the library, showing us how to properly
conduct research utilizing the tools that the library provides. This was a valuable lesson,
and allowed the students in the class to remain on the same page (so to speak) when it
comes to how to conduct research at the college level. Having this tool available to transfer
students will allow them to get up to speed quicker than before, and have fun while learning.
The librarians were very pleased with this response. Cory also mentioned that working on
the game allowed him to refresh his memory of information literacy and proper research
and writing techniques, which is something the USC Upstate librarians strive to do for all
of our students. While this collaboration beneted the librarians with the creation of Black-
beards Treasure, it also beneted Cory as well. We retained the Blackboard course shell to
178 Games in Libraries

communicate with students as we did previously with FIL. Working with the Student
Success Center has allowed them to be kept abreast of our outreach to transfer students
throughout the creation of Blackbeards Treasure, which would not have succeeded without
the collaborations across different individuals and groups on campus.

Customizing Blackbeards Treasure

Although we received critical assistance in developing the technical aspects of the game,
we still had the difcult task of incorporating content from FIL into the framework estab-
lished for Blackbeards Treasure. This proved to be more challenging than simply copying
the questions verbatim from Blackboard and pasting them into the game. We quickly realized
that we were swapping a less aesthetically appealing Blackboard setting for a more engaging
interface that lacked some of the behind-the-scenes functionality to which we had grown
accustomed. For example, the modications that removed the stressful semblance of a testing
tool meant that we needed to nd another way to track the scores of the participants and
the names of those who had completed the game by having students register at the end.
Scoring had to be designed to be based on a students rst answer choice so that we could
retain some sense of the abilities students brought to the game. Our timeframe did not
allow for the more complicated programming that would have allowed us to track aggregate
data on individual questions, but we felt we were able to capture the most relevant pieces
of information surrounding transfer student performance and participation with the game.
The need to modify our questions to t the new layout was deemed to be a tremendous
opportunity that allowed us to utilize a greater assortment of questions in regard to their
structure and layout, especially concerning the use of images and screen captures. Not only
did our selection of a pirate theme t nicely with the concept of searching for and discovering
information, but customizations permitted by the game conveyed that theme more power-
fully than ever would have been possible within Blackboard. This also aided us in our goal
of providing a more engaging experience, because we had the unique ability to tie images
from the USC Upstate campus to images of a more swashbuckling nature. For example, in
the games introduction, the parrot drops Blackbeards treasure chest in front of USC
Upstates administration building. With that connection to the coastal history of Blackbeard,
students can more readily buy into the selected theme and hunt for what proves to be a
more knowledge-based treasure trove.
We decided to retain some of the types of questions that were used in FIL, such as
multiple choice and matching questions. While multiple choice questions translated well
with the software we were using, the software did not permit us to use a true drag and drop
format, so instead we used a list of prompts that students matched to answers in order for
matching questions. Yet even these standard question formats were enriched by the ability
to infuse them into a game setting. A multiple choice question about understanding the
arrangement of Library of Congress call numbers was transformed into a graphically
enhanced image of a bookshelf on which the students needed to correctly match four titles
related to the history of piracy. Although both versions of the question have graphic images
of book spines, the interactivity of the game version drives the idea of every book having
its place on the shelf. Other questions about information from the USC Upstate librarys
website required the students to examine screen captures of the librarys home page or of
specic electronic resources. In these cases, the images were placed on an artistic rendition
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure (Kearns, B. Kirsch and Vidas) 179

Image from the introduction to Blackbeards Treasure showing the treasure chest in front of
USC Upstates administration building.

of a white board, a projection screen, and even within the image of a at screen television.
This approach allowed the students to enlarge the screenshot and locate the answer to the
corresponding question.
Ultimately, there were few limits placed on the depth and creativity exhibited by the
game. The major restrictions pertained to the level of difculty the students would have in
answering the questions and the amount of time that we wanted them to spend on the
game ideally, about 30 minutes, which was the amount of time estimated for completion
of FIL. Our primary goal in designing the game was to meld a fun and engaging activity
with an educational experience.

Blackbeards Treasure and Gaming Qualities

Blackbeards Treasure can be found at http://librarygame. uscupstate. edu. The game
is interactive in the sense that it allows players to navigate through the questions by clicking
on various highlighted objects and get instantaneous feedback to the answers they select.
In order to appropriately label Blackbeards Treasure as a game, we realized that certain
gaming qualities needed to be inherent in the nal rendition. We incorporated some of
those qualities by generating the perception of progression toward an ultimate goal or ending
and by allowing users to navigate through a virtual reality. While the scoring mechanism
enabled us to better understand the research skills of our transfer students, it also provided
them with a means of gauging how well they performed at the game.
In striving to present a game that was interesting and engaging for students, some
qualities seemed apparent, but we wanted to be sure to identify a list of best practices, which
we gratefully learned were compiled by Mary J. Snyder Broussard.20 Her suggestions to keep
180 Games in Libraries

The Library of Congress Classication question in Blackbeards Treasure. Students must click
on the spine of the book that matches the highlighted shelf number to arrange the books in
the proper order.

games simple and fun were elements that we had already discussed, but other recommen-
dations reinforced ideas that we might have touched on or that may have escaped our notice
altogether. While we do our best to market the game, she takes that a step further by con-
sidering the use of the game in a classroom setting, which would reach additional transfer
students and possibly help to spread the word about the game. We especially liked the con-
cept of requiring students to complete a specic task before progressing, or gating as
Broussard calls it. This encouraged us to require students to select the proper response to
a question rather than choosing a random incorrect response and moving forward in the
game. Perhaps her best suggestion is to begin with educational goals and build the game
around those. After all, without the instructive component of our game, there is no need
to discuss Blackbeard with USC Upstate transfers. Other highlights that can be gleaned
from her eight practices include testing and evaluating the game, providing ample feedback
to the players, and introducing the game properly as well as concluding in a manner that
does not simply leave students hanging. There is still room for improvement, but we man-
aged to adhere to each of her eight suggestions to a greater or lesser extent.
The game opens with USC Upstates mascot, Sparty, holding up a large book entitled,
Blackbeards Treasure. Students are immediately struck with a sense of curiosity about the
link between Blackbeard and USC Upstate. They click on the book to begin, then on the
parrot, who carries the treasure to USC Upstates administration building, where students
get some instructions and click the building to enter the rst level. Level 1 is a sparsely fur-
nished classroom, a setting in which students often receive research assignments. Students
click in turn on an apple, the white board, and a clipboard to nd three questions related
to information literacy Standard 1. After answering the questions correctly, Level 1 ends
with the rst clue: Know your information need. Sparty suggests going to the library,
where students need to gather information. Level 2 contains more questions than the other
levels and therefore we divided it into two settings during the course of realizing the game.
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure (Kearns, B. Kirsch and Vidas) 181

The rst shows an information desk and shelves of books, while the second shows a library
study room. The questions relating to Standard 2 skills culminate in the clue: Access the
needed information. Level 3 depicts Spartys dorm room, where the processes of synthesizing
information and writing occur. The three questions touch on Standards 35. The Bonus
Level clue reads: Evaluate information critically. Use information effectively. Use infor-
mation ethically. Following the Bonus Level, students are presented with a nal ourish
to conclude the game and to reinforce the ideas presented throughout the game. The bonus
round begins by presenting the following riddle that summarizes the research experience
and encapsulates the ve ACRL Information Literacy Standards:
Yer goal by research have ye found,
Me treasure shining all around.
By knowing what ye need to know,
By nding what ye need to nd,
Through evaluation and presentation,
Being fair and just, ye have arrived
At journeys end. And now ye see
The treasure map below me feet.
Use all yer knowledge to derive,
And reveal all the Standards Five,
And the treasure will awaken,
Once ye match the steps yeve taken.
At that point, students must correctly arrange the ve information literacy standards-the
clues that have been given at the ends of the previous levels-in the form of a scroll. Once
done properly, the game concludes and the students are able to submit their nal scores
along with their names and email addresses, which enable us to contact them with additional
information and to retain a record of their performance. Once the score is submitted a
conrmation screen appears with a link to a library guide especially designed for transfer
students, available at

The information literacy standards scroll in the nale to the game. Students match the proper
standard to the highlighted Roman numeral to construct the scroll.
182 Games in Libraries

Although Blackbeards Treasure is not the most graphically sophisticated game, there
are a large number of unique images that can be found within the game. Objects that can
be clicked to reveal a question include items such as an apple, a computer screen, a lamp,
a clipboard, a waste basket, an opened book, and many others. A smattering of sounds are
also scattered throughout the game to keep things interesting. For example, the beginning
of the game includes an adventurous tune to get the journey underway. Each level includes
a brief aural introduction and players can even revel in the congratulatory cheer that is heard
after each correct answer is submitted. Between the graphics, the structure of the game, and
the audio portions, the players are engaged in several different manners throughout the

Game Results
Initial responses to the game were positive, but it was not until we received and analyzed
the results that we could develop a better idea of what the game accomplished. We endeav-
ored to attain a high rate of participation and the nal results indicated that 59 out of 721
transfer students participated in the game. As with FIL, we felt that 10 percent was an
acceptable percentage of participants, although we nished with just over 8 percent com-
pleting Blackbeards Treasure. For its rst run, we are not disappointed and we feel that we
have room to improve and to attract a greater number of transfers to play in the future.
Despite the fact that we are striving to reach a greater number of students, we did gain a
much better grasp of transfer students comfort using our resources from the 59 who did
nish the game. On average, the students scored 67 percent out of 240 possible points.
Because the game continues to be a measure of what knowledge and skills the students
possess when arriving at USC Upstate, high scores are not necessarily the expectation.
Aside from learning about the students research backgrounds, we wanted to know
how they felt about the game in general. We encouraged them to complete a brief survey
about the game and twelve students (around 20 percent of those who played the game)
returned the survey. According to the results, the majority of the students expressed some
level of agreement to each of our questions. Knowing that two-thirds of the students enjoyed
the game reinforced our belief that the game was a more suitable and attractive means of
assessing students research skills than was the Blackboard testing features. Nearly all par-
ticipants agreed that they learned something useful from the game (92 percent). Even the
student who did not enjoy playing the game could not argue that something of benet was
gleaned from the experience, but nearly everyone agreed that upon completion of the game
they knew more about research at USC Upstate than when they started. Two-thirds of the
respondents felt that the game was easy to navigate. Although we would like to see stronger
agreement, some neutral or negative opinions were not unexpected following the initial
rollout of the game. Written feedback indicated that at least one student had trouble with
the graphics loading and another had trouble nding the objects that were clicked to open
a question. This feedback will help us to improve specic features of the game as we move
forward. With 67 percent of respondents agreeing that the instructions and questions were
clear, we feel that there are still aspects of this area that could be improved. Some of the
more complex questions or those with a more complicated structure may have given the
students greater difculty. While we can nd ways to simplify those questions, we also see
a need to retain a variety of questions that provide a means for us to gather the information
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure (Kearns, B. Kirsch and Vidas) 183

that we need, so we may never reach the point where all students feel that the questions are
easy. But removing difculty is not necessarily our goal; there will always be options for
improving the clarity of the questions and selecting formats that more adequately t the
content of the question, even if the students still have trouble understanding which answer
is correct. With the feedback from the results of the game and the opinionated responses
from students, we have the tools that we need to make minor revisions to the game and to
experience greater success in upcoming semesters.

Where We Go from Here

Although we are pleased with things as they stand, we want to consistently improve
upon what we have already accomplished. By correcting some of the aws inherent in the
game, we hope to appeal to a larger number of students and to witness a more enthusiastic
reception of the game. Many aspects of the game would not be considered awed by the
students or by the librarians, yet there remains room for improvement, especially with the
assistance of an expert in using the technology used to create the game.
Participants in the game are unlikely to pay close attention to our scoring feature since
they are not being graded on their performance. However, we do need to make some adjust-
ments in how each question is scored, especially those with multiple parts, such as the
matching questions. At this point, the game gives too much credit to responses in questions
with multiple answers, but we are condent that we can correct that situation in the near
future. We received some comments about and also witnessed occasional problems with the
graphics not fully loading or appearing a bit choppy. There are certainly differences in the
overall functionality of the game based upon the browser that is used, which is linked to
some of the graphical complications. We may never completely eradicate periodic glitches,
but understanding what causes them can help us to decrease the regularity of such occur-
rences. As the software that we use continues to be developed and improved, we anticipate
additional features, such as the ability to drag and drop answers rather than select multiple
items for the matching questions. These issues all surround the broad and complex realm
of technology, but with assistance from teaching faculty or students and with a new library
staff member responsible for assisting with technologically enhanced projects, we believe
that most of these improvements will come with relative ease.
We will continue to market the game to our transfer students and to provide some
form of incentive, such as a drawing for gift certicates from among students who complete

Results of the student opinion survey about Blackbeards Treasure.

184 Games in Libraries

the game. We feel that we successfully spread the word among transfer students who are
eligible to play the game, but there are untapped areas of marketing that we wish to explore.
One such example is among faculty advisors who have the opportunity to meet transfers
face-to-face and can encourage them to try the game. With a participation rate hovering
around ten percent, there is denitely still some room for improvement.
Interestingly, even though we transformed the Blackboard inventory into a game,
one of the suggestions that we received asked us to include more Did you know types of
information. In other words, the student was receptive to learning about the library even
if it was not through a more structured question format. This is useful, because we can still
ask a series of questions, but instruct the students in other less stressful ways as well. If we
want to include this type of information, we can possibly incorporate it into the game as
an Easter egg, a hidden feature in the game that rewards participants who go beyond what
is required to progress in the game.
Of the several items on our wish list for improving FIL and transforming it into a
game, we were not able to retain the ability to keep aggregate data on individual questions
in our current version of Blackbeards Treasure. While we therefore lose some valuable infor-
mation, we felt that the tradeoff for instant feedback and greater interactivity was worth it.
It must be pointed out that that aggregate data from individual questions on FIL is fairly
consistent across its ve administrations. We hope to be able to regain the ability to collect
aggregate data in a future version of the game.
Ultimately, the success we have achieved with Blackbeards Treasure so far is the result
of the collaborations we have maintained with the Student Success Center, Enrollment
Services, and Upstate students and faculty. These collaborations have helped us to design
and implement the game and to reach out to transfer students during the admissions process
and participate in transfer student orientation. While we realize that our steps to reach out
to transfer students are only a small part of what needs to be done, we feel that it is an
important effort worth continuing. If the game can help students feel that their presence is
valuable to us and alert them to some of the research expectations and resources available
at Upstate, it will have served its purpose. That we have made a good beginning is reected
in a comment by one of the students in our survey: all in all a neat idea.

1. Latrice E. Eggleston and Frankie Santos Laanan, Making the Transition to the Senior Institution, New
Directions for Community Colleges 114 (2001), 90.
2. Jennifer Cox and Ralph Johnson, Transfer Students in the Library: The Forgotten Population, Research
Strategies 10 (1992), 89.
3. Eggleston and Laanan, Making the Transition, 92.
4. John C. Phillips and Thomas A. Atwood, Transferring Students, Transferring Skills: A Call to Academic
Libraries, College & Undergraduate Libraries 17, no. 4 (2010): 33148, doi: 10.1080/10691316.2010.525394.
5. Gail M. Staines, Moving Beyond Institutional Boundaries: Perceptions toward BI for Transfer Students,
Research Strategies 14 (1996), 93107.
6. Jeanne Armstrong and Margaret Fast, A Credit Course Assignment: The Encyclopedia Entry, Reference
Services Review 32, no. 2 (2004), 19094.
7. Jennifer Cox and Ralph Johnson, Transfer Students in the Library: The Forgotten Population, Research
Strategies 10 (1992), 8891.
8. Elizabeth W. Kraemer, Dana J. Keyse, and Shawn V. Lombardo, Beyond These Walls: Building a
Library Outreach Program at Oakland University, published simultaneously in The Reference Librarian 82
(2003): 517 and Outreach Services in Academic and Special Libraries, ed. Paul Kelsey and Sigrig Kelsey (n.p.:
Haworth Press, 2003): 517.
Searching for Blackbeards Treasure (Kearns, B. Kirsch and Vidas) 185

9. Roberta L. Tipton and Patricia Bender, From Failure to Success: Working with Under-Prepared Trans-
fer Students, Reference Services Review 34, no. 3 (2006), 389404.
10. Sylvia G. Tag, A Library Instruction Survey for Transfer Students: Implications for Library Services,
Journal of Academic Librarianship 30, no. 2 (2004), 102108.
11. Such institutional barriers, formal and informal, are well documented in a recent case study of a large
public research university: Barbara F. Tobolowsky and Bradley E. Cox, Rationalizing Neglect: An Institutional
Response to Transfer Students, The Journal of Higher Education 83, no. 3 (2012), 389410.
12. For more information about the program see Andrew Kearns, Treading New Paths: How Creative
Collaboration Transformed Teaching the Research Process to USC Upstates First-Year Students in Thirty-
Seventh National LOEX Library Instruction Conference Proceedings. Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 30-May
2, 2009, ed. Brad Seitz. (Ypsilanti, MI: LOEX Press, 2011), 15357.
13. This was done at the suggestion of Enrollment Services as the university was most concerned with per-
sistence among this group.
14. More information about the development of FIL may be found in Andrew Kearns and Chris Vidas,
A Tutorial for Transfer Students: Reaching Out to USC Upstates Underserved Students, LOEX (Library
Orientation Exchange Presentation, 39th National Conference, Fort Worth, TX, May 57, 2011). To be pub-
lished in the conference proceedings.
15. Mary J. Snyder Broussard and Jessica Urick Oberlin, Using Online Games to Fight Plagiarism: A
Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down, Indiana Libraries 30, no. 1 (2011): 3132.
16. Mary J. Snyder Broussard, Goblin Threat, in Let the Games Begin! Engaging Students with Field-
Tested Interactive Information Literacy Instruction, ed. Theresa R. McDevitt (New York: Neal-Schuman Pub-
lishers, Inc., 2011), 13233.
17. Blackbeard Pirate Terror at Sea, National Geographic Society, last modied 2012, http://www.nation
18. Broussard, Goblin Threat, 132.
19. About Tumult, Inc, Tumult, Inc,
20. Broussard, Mary J. Snyder, Best Practices, Game Making Interest Group, http://gamemakinginterest

About Tumult, Inc. Tumult, Inc.
Blackbeard Pirate Terror at Sea. National Geographic Society. Last modied 2012. http://www.national html.
Broussard, Mary J. Snyder. Best Practices. Game Making Interest Group. http://gamemakinginterestgroup. Practices.
Broussard, Mary J. Snyder. Goblin Threat. In Let the Games Begin! Engaging Students with Field-Tested
Interactive Information Literacy Instruction, edited by Theresa R. McDevitt, 13233. New York: Neal-Schu-
man Publishers, Inc., 2011.
Broussard, Mary J. Snyder, and Jessica Urick Oberlin. Using Online Games to Fight Plagiarism: A Spoonful
of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down. Indiana Libraries 30, no. 1 (2011): 2839.
Cox, Jennifer, and Ralph Johnson. Transfer Students in the Library: The Forgotten Population. Research
Strategies 10 (1992), 89.
Eggleston, Latrice E., and Frankie Santos Laanan. Making the Transition to the Senior Institution. New
Directions for Community Colleges 114 (2001), 90.
Kearns, Andrew. Treading New Paths: How Creative Collaboration Transformed Teaching the Research
Process to USC Upstates First-Year Students. In Thirty-Seventh National LOEX Library Instruction Con-
ference Proceedings Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 30-May 2, 2009, edited by Brad Sietz, 15357. Ypsilanti,
MI: LOEX Press, 2011.
Kearns, Andrew, and Chris Vidas. A Tutorial for Transfer Students: Reaching Out to USC Upstates Under-
served Students. Paper presented at the LOEX (Library Orientation Exchange) 39th National Conference,
Fort Worth, TX, May 57, 2011. To be published in the conference proceedings.
Kraemer, Elizabeth W., Dana J. Keyse, and Shawn V. Lombardo. Beyond These Walls: Building a Library
Outreach Program at Oakland University. The Reference Librarian 82 (2003): 517. Simultaneously pub-
lished in Outreach Services in Academic and Special Libraries, edited by Paul Kelsey and Sigrig Kelsey, 5
17. N.p.: Haworth Press, 2003.
Phillips, John C., and Thomas A. Atwood. Transferring Students, Transferring Skills: A Call to Academic
Libraries, College & Undergraduate Libraries 17, no. 4 (2010): 331348, doi: 10.1080/10691316.2010.
186 Games in Libraries

Staines, Gail M. Moving Beyond Institutional Boundaries: Perceptions toward BI for Transfer Students.
Research Strategies 14 (1996), 93107.
Tag, Sylvia G. A Library Instruction Survey for Transfer Students: Implications for Library Services. Journal
of Academic Librarianship 30, no. 2 (2004), 102108.
Tipton, Roberta L., and Patricia Bender. From Failure to Success: Working with Under-Prepared Transfer
Students. Reference Services Review 34, no. 3 (2006), 389404.
Tobolowsky, Barbara F., and Bradley E. Cox. Rationalizing Neglect: An Institutional Response to Transfer
Students. The Journal of Higher Education 83, no. 3 (2012), 389410.
Beyond the Board: Alternate
Reality Games in Libraries

Libraries have recognized the role games can play in teaching information literacy,
highlighting collections, and marketing library services. They have taken a mostly traditional
approach towards game creation and thus many library games have more closely resembled
web-based board games. However, the commercial games that most users are accustomed
to playing are immersive 3D adventures costing millions of dollars to create and years to
develop. Libraries cannot hope to build games comparable to World of Warcraft or Call of
Duty. The challenge then facing library game makers is determining how to construct a
game that will engage users and accomplish their objectives (instruction, marketing, etc.)
with their limited resources. Alternate reality games or ARGs provide a viable solution. While
ARGs traditionally have been used for marketing movies and video games, they are inherently
exible and require only basic web programming skills to create. This makes them well-
suited for library game builders. It is important for those considering ARGs to have a broad
understanding of what they are, the breadth of games that have been created, and what
made them successful. This genre is not new to libraries and the experiences of those that
have moved library games beyond the board through creating and/or implementing ARGs
is valuable for aspiring designers.

A History of ARGs

Alternate reality games are diverse in their design, duration, purpose, and implemen-
tation. They are story-based games usually with a healthy dose of mystery and adventure
occurring either virtually, physically, or some combination of the two. ARGs often use a
variety of media including websites, social applications, videos, audio, text messages, and
in-person events. ARGs are unique in that they do not have dened rules or a specic play-
space. Their creator and purpose is usually unknown to players when the game begins. Dis-
covering this information, the who and the why, is a key part of most ARGs. An alternate
reality game is designed to blur the line with reality and deny or disguise the fact that it
is even a game at all.1 A successful ARG is often characterized by its immersiveness. Speci-
cally, how seamlessly does it integrate the game elements and components thus enabling the
player to easily suspend disbelief. This is one reason the genre relies upon technologies with
which players are familiar as it helps make them feel less like they are playing a game and
more like part of their normal reality.2 Dave Szulborskis This Is Not a Game: A Guide to
Alternate Reality Gaming (2005) is an exceptional overview of ARGs and their history as well

188 Games in Libraries

as a look at what makes them successful. It remains one of the best places for newcomers
to begin.

The Beast
The most signicant early alternate reality game was 2001s The Beast. Created to help
market Steven Spielbergs movie A.I.: Articial Intelligence, the game was set fty years after
the events in the lm. The movies trailer and posters contained the starting point of the
game. This rabbit hole as it is commonly called in ARGs was an obscure credit for Jeanine
Salla. She was listed as Sentient Machine Therapist. Internet searches on her name yielded
ctional websites from the year the game was set, 2142. Clues from the sites and Sallas
phone message revealed that she was at the heart of the suspicious death of one of her family
friends, Evan Chan. Chans death was only the start of the mystery.3
The game took place over three months and included over thirty unique websites. It
also incorporated email, voice messages, and live phone conversations. The Beast had a sig-
nicant following and players formed the Cloudmakers Yahoo group to share notes and
discuss the game. The group itself had thousands of members and was inuential in shaping
the game as the developers incorporated plotlines and adjusted the story in reaction to items
posted by Cloudmaker members.4
Microsofts Game Group was behind The Beasts development. A.I. producer Kathy
Kennedy and Spielberg tasked the team to bring the movies virtual world to life. To do
this, the game developers steadfastly adhered to the philosophy that is the cornerstone of
the genre: This is not a game. The team believed the game was more compelling because
players didnt know who was behind it or why. They felt that using different methods for
communicating with players made it more realistic which is why it was not solely Web
based. The Beast was a unique experience in its depth and scale and remains the quintessential
example of an ARG.5

Mere months after The Beast concluded Electronic Arts (EA) released Majestic, the rst
commercial alternate reality game. The open development and sale of an ARG runs counter
to many of the aforementioned principles of the genre. Majestic was a game and that was
not a mystery, so there was no clever rabbit hole for players to discover. Otherwise, the
game included similar elements to The Beast. Majestic used a variety of media channels to
interact with players. From phone and email to AOL Instant Messenger and BlackBerry
messages, players received clues and worked to solve the government conspiracy story at the
heart of the game.6 Videos were also used and included some well-known actors such as
Joe Pantoliano. As is standard for ARGs, EA created numerous ctional websites to build
out the ctional setting at the heart of the mystery.7
Majestic was an episodic game broken into ve parts. EA monetized Majestic by giving
away the rst episode, but charging $9.95 per month for the subsequent four. Season 1 con-
sisted of those ve episodes. Events occurred in real time so the games automated interactions
with players occurred on a schedule. If the player received a message that he would get a
call tomorrow, then the game called him on the subsequent calendar day. Players also could
interact with each other via instant messages, but this was limited to those that were at the
same part of the storyline. This restriction was the developers way of preventing players
Beyond the Board (Battles) 189

from spoiling the game for others.8 The games subject matter and perhaps its varied real-
world interactions with players led EA to temporarily suspend the game after the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks.9 Majestic did resume and continued into 2002 before EA cancelled
it due to low subscriptions prior to launching season 2. Majestic received critical acclaim,
but game developers have since shied away from releasing commercial ARGs. Instead, they
have mastered using the genre to promote their games.

I Love Bees
I Love Bees was not only one of the most popular ARGs ever made, but the best example
of the genres role in viral marketing for video games. The game won awards and the
attention of millions that interacted with the game during its three-month run. I Love Bees
was developed by ARG veterans at 42 Entertainment to promote Bungies release of the Halo
2 video game. The I Love Bees central website,, was hidden in
the Halo 2 trailer. 42 Entertainment also sent out jars of honey to active members of the
ARG and video game communities. The jars contained letters directing recipients to the I
Love Bees site. On the surface, this beekeeping fan site looked like it had been hacked.
Players tried to help the webmaster Dana discover what had happened to her
site thus uncovering a mystery surrounding an articial intelligence stranded on earth and
a global alien threat.10
The core plot had Dana trying to regain control of only to be thwarted
by the articial intelligence known as Melissa. Melissa was desperate to regain her memory
and used the I Love Bees site to reveal much of her backstory. Another intelligence was at
work to undermine Melissas efforts. The Seeker, as this AI was known, was built by the
antagonist in Halo 2, the Covenant. Its purpose was to gain information from Melissa. The
story ends with Earths location revealed, and the Covenant invading the planet.11
I Love Bees was one of the most challenging ARGs. 42 Entertainments creation was very
amorphous even by ARG standards and players were faced with some daunting puzzles. One
of the toughest of which was discovering that 210 number sets represented the global coor-
dinates of pay phones and the times those phones would ring with audio messages.12 Puzzles
also incorporated live phone calls with game characters. As tasks were completed and codes
broken, players would get more information, usually in audio form. If players solved the
games last challenge, they were rewarded with four locations where they could get a chance
to play Halo 2 prior to its release.

ARGs in the Entertainment Industry

While The Beast is the progenitor of the genre, I Love Bees solidied ARGs as more than
just a trend. The subsequent and continued development of ARGs is evidence of the genres
strength. Bungie, the development studio behind the Halo franchise, used another ARG,
Iris, to promote Halo 3. Bungie has developed a new intellectual property for a future series
of video games, and, not surprisingly, has built an ARG around it. Destiny is expected in late
2013 or early 2014. The supporting ARGs initial puzzle asks players to discover the appro-
priate alignment of a set of diamond shapes on a website (http://alphalupi. bungie. net/).
As of this writing, it is unknown where the puzzle leads.
While Bungies games have had some excellent ARGs behind them, many other video
190 Games in Libraries

game makers have also embraced the genre. Story-based or role-playing video games are
more likely to have an associated ARG. The very nature of the genre makes this a natural
pairing. Bioshock 2s, Something in the Sea ARG focused on worldwide kidnapping cases and
the efforts of one father, Mark Meltzer, to nd his missing daughter.13 Players are drawn
into the game by Marks plea for assistance. Released in April 2013, Deance is a video
game with several supporting elements including an ARG centered on the ctional Von Bach
Industries website.14 On the site, Von Bach is seeking volunteers to help recover valuable
artifacts in a post-apocalyptic world. Epitomizing the transmedia nature and label given to
some newer ARGs, an associated Syfy channel television show debuts on April 15, 2013 a few
weeks after the video games release on April 2.15
Movie makers have arguably been more involved in developing ARGs than any other
group. Games were created around The Dark Knight (2008), Clovereld (2008), District 9
(2009), Super 8 (2010) and more recently for Star Trek (2009), Skyfall (2012), and Stark
Trek: Into Darkness (2013). The Dark Knights ARG was one of the most elaborate ever made
incorporating live events and multiple sites. During portions of the game, players received
clues with physical copies of the Gotham City newspaper and were directed to bakeries to
pick up real cakes with cell phones stuffed inside.16 It was introduced through altered $1
bills given out at San Diego Comic-Con in 2007. The website on the
currency gave players an opportunity to sign up as henchmen for the Joker. They were then
led on a scavenger hunt that covered several locations in San Diego. This portion of the
game concluded with the reveal of The Dark Knight trailer at the end of the convention,
but the ARG continued for over a year with more puzzles and an evolving website that
changed with every new clue. The game concluded in true marketing form just one week
before the movies release.17
It is interesting to note that four of the movies previously listed: Clovereld, Super 8,
and both Star Treks, all shared the same producer, J.J. Abrams. The latest Star Trek ARGs
rabbit hole was a web address that appeared on a display panel in the movie trailer. The
website, has only a link to a registration page. As of this writing, the
games storyline remains a mystery. The 2009 Star Trek ARG, Alert Vulcan, had a similar
beginning. This earlier game also had a considerable real world component from strange
devices to crash sites with mysterious markings. Players piecing together the story were
eventually tasked with sending transmissions via a specic website to warn the planet Vulcan
of an impending attack. The players most involved in alerting Vulcan were recognized by
Leonard Nimoy in a YouTube video. It is clear that Abrams has an afnity for the genre as
even his television productions, Lost and Fringe, had ARGs.
While video game makers and movie studios have dominated ARGs, other less obvious
entertainment and corporate entities have also recognized the genres value. The band Nine
Inch Nails teamed with I Love Bees developer 42 Entertainment to create an ARG to promote
their album Year Zero. The games initial puzzle came in the form of highlighted letters on
the bands tour t-shirt leading to the website.18 Players were even-
tually led through more than a dozen websites and clues even came in the form of USB
ash drives found in concert venue bathrooms.
In late 2012, Google entered the realm of ARGs with Ingress. Created by the companys
own startup, Niantic Labs, Ingress was introduced via a free mobile app.19 The mobile aspect
of the game is central and one of Googles stated goal is to get people out in the physical
world for the benet of physical activity but also to see their surroundings in a new way.20
Players generate virtual energy through walking paths, and they spend this energy going
Beyond the Board (Battles) 191

on missions associated with museums, libraries, and similar public places.21 Players choose
between one of two sides and consequently their efforts benet their teammates. Google
plans to continue developing the Ingress concept and story but also intends to make the
game tools available to developers.22 This could prove a useful platform for future ARGs,
but it is too early to tell.

Serious ARGs
ARGs were born in the entertainment industry, but they have gained broader popularity
in recent years. Other organizations recognized the alternate reality genre as a benecial
way to bring attention to a variety of compelling health and social issues. ARGNet, one of
the main ARG fan sites, tags these efforts as serious games and what set these ARGs apart
are the topics they cover and their goals of raising awareness or even raising funds for a
specic cause.
A number of these weighty ARGs emerged in quick succession in 2007 and 2008. The
World Without Oil (http://worldwithoutoil. org) led the way with a collaborative approach
to dealing with a ctional 32-week world oil crisis. Calling upon the collective knowledge
of players, the World Without Oil ARG had an educational aim to help participants understand
street level issues that are dominant in such a crisis.23 This game received a lot of positive
attention as is apparent from their website, and it even garnered a SXSW Web Award nom-
ination in the Activism category.24
Other similar noteworthy games from that year included Operation Sleeper Cell benet-
ing cancer research and Traces of Hope sponsored by the British Red Cross. The former
game was a ten-week charity event for Cancer Research UK (http://www.cancerresearchuk.
org) in which players completed good deeds and solved puzzles in a lighthearted, comedy
spy game with the usual web and social media elements coupled with a real world com-
ponent.25 Operation Sleeper Cell was unique in that donations were used as a virtual currency
allowing players to unlock missions. Traces of Hope focused on the plight of those in war-
torn nations by centering the game on a realistic portrayal of a Ugandan teen trying to
locate his mother. The game highlights the British Red Cross tracing and messaging service
for displaced civilians searching for their families.26
More recent, issue-driven ARGs have included a project from one of the World Without
Oil creators, Ken Eklund. Ed Zed Omega (http://edzedomega. org) takes on the issue of
education reform from the perspective of students. Teamed with Andi McDaniel and funded
by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Ed Zed Omega centers around six teens
that plan to drop out of school for varying reasons. Participants can interact with the teens
to understand their issues and try to re-engage them in their own education. The goal is to
raise awareness of the many different reasons students drop-out (bullying, poverty, boredom,
etc.) and present ways to keep them in school through proposed changes to the education
Another alum from the World Without Oil project, Jane McGonigal went on to direct
2010s EVOKE ARG developed by the educational branch of the World Bank Group, the
World Bank Institute. Using 10 weekly episodes with the background story presented via
comic book style graphics, the game seeks to empower people from all over the world to
come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems.28 The game is a bit
more structured than some ARGs, but it manages to hit on a wide number of critical world
192 Games in Libraries

issues from food shortages and climate change to womens rights and urbanization. EVOKE
is designed so that educators can easily use the game in their classes.29
McGonigals work with EVOKE and World Without Oil only scratch the surface of her
contribution to gaming and ARGs. She presented a TED Talk in 2010 that included many
of the arguments made in her New York Times bestseller Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make
Us Better and How They Can Change the World (2011). Reality Is Broken takes a broad view
of the positive impact gaming can have on individuals and society. In both, McGonigal
asserts that video games in general and ARGs in particular have a role to play in solving real-
world problems.30 ARGs, according to McGonigal, improve our daily lives and combat
depression and obesity. Likewise, ARGs can enable us to pool our collective knowledge for
the greater good.31 McGonigal sees a positive future for video games and ARGs in making
us more productive rather than detracting or distracting us from serious pursuits.

Into Academia
The idea that games can serve an educational and productive role is not new, but the
growth of ARGs among educators is. Games, gamication, and game-based learning have all
appeared in NMCs renowned Horizon Report each of the last several years (2011, 2012, and
2013). The 2013 Higher Ed edition places games and gamication in the two to three year
window for adoption. According to the report, gameplay has traversed the realm of recre-
ation and is proving to be a useful training and motivation tool.32
The reason for the increasing popularity of games in education is clear, but the growth
of ARGs specically is more difcult to deduce. Certainly the efforts of key ARG developers
to work with teachers have built some connections for those looking for new approaches to
instruction and new ways to engage their students. World Without Oil s Ken Eklund teamed
up with California 10th grade history teacher Dan McDowell to create a series of lesson
plans thus allowing teachers in other schools to take on a game master role for their own
classes.33 This approach is similar to McGonigals efforts to make EVOKE broadly share-
Even before games appeared as a technology trend for higher education, Indiana Uni-
versity became one of the rst schools to not just incorporate games, but to develop an ARG.
Designed by Lee Sheldon, a professor in the Telecommunications Department at IU, Skeleton
Chase launched in 2008 and was developed to improve players health through a story full
of conspiracies and corporate greed. Player interactions included phone calls, text messages,
and live events with actors in addition to the usual websites and social media that comprise
most every ARG. Skeleton Chase was a collaboration between Sheldon and professors Anne
Masset from the Kelley School of Business and Jeanne Johnston from IUs Kinesiology
Department.34 The games success sparked a sequel, Skeleton Chase 2: The Psychic. The real-
world elements were more pervasive in this iteration as IUs Division of Recreational Sports
was a partner and the game introduced time-limited events and structured activities.35
Academic ARGs have taken a variety of forms and have been introduced as part of
specic courses, freshman outreach, and independent studies. 2012s Speculation falls into
the latter category. With team members from Duke University, the University of Chicago,
and the University of Waterloo, Speculation sought to enhance the nancial literacy of
players and educate them on the causes of the 2008 economic downturn.36 Marketed as an
ARG or transmedia game, Speculation asked participants to solve puzzles based on econom-
Beyond the Board (Battles) 193

ics, language, and technology. Players were primarily students from Vassar, Duke, and the
University of Chicago. The game also was built for replayability.37 Traditional ARGs designed
for marketing games or movies serve a one-time purpose and once they end participants
cannot really play them again as they were originally designed. However, Speculation,
EVOKE, World Without Oil, and others are intended to be played again by different groups,
classes, etc. The ability to easily repeat the experience for other audiences helps make these
games the educational tools the developers desired.

Libraries and ARGs

Alternate reality games have been and continue to be very successful in the entertain-
ment industry. They have also seen success as vehicles for engaging players in societal issues
and intellectual pursuits. These varied implementations have all had a purpose whether pro-
moting a movie, nding solutions to our oil dependency, or getting students to exercise.
When it comes to libraries, the question is how and what do we hope to accomplish by
building an ARG. What is the purpose? There are a variety of possible answers. Information
literacy instruction has been the primary purpose of library games in general and many
library ARGs have been built to show users how to use library resources. Highlighting col-
lections and services and otherwise marketing the library are all great reasons for creating
an ARG.
There are certainly aspects of how ARGs are implemented by video game makers and
movie studios that differ from how they are implemented in a library environment. Many
of the entertainment industry examples provided earlier relied upon viral marketing to a
broad audience. Libraries are trying to target their patrons or students and not the entirety
of the Internet. Public libraries serve a diverse yet geographically distinct population, which
presents a challenge when building an ARG that reaches all of their constituents. School and
academic libraries have a more homogenous but often smaller target group for their game
building efforts. ARGs present a unique challenge for all of these library types.
The majority of library ARGs have come from academic institutions. Their potential
players are often active and curious, and they are usually procient users of the web and
social media. They require a game that can get their attention, and ARGs are a perfect t.
Analyzing some of the major library ARGs demonstrates the variety of approaches institutions
have taken as well as the degree of effort that game building can consume based upon the
individual games design. The University of Alabama Libraries alternate reality game was
one of the earliest and largest. It was delivered via numerous ctional websites and a host
of media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube while also incorporating
WordPress blogs. The games story was also unique in both its level of detail and the fact
it was written by librarians.

The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama Libraries began considering a library game in late 2007. A
diverse group of librarians from technology, public services, and special collections was
formed to consider the options for creating an information literacy game. I was fortunate
to have the opportunity to chair this group, ofcially known as the Game Development
Working Group, from its inception through the development and execution of our ARG,
194 Games in Libraries

Project Velius. We researched various types of games from commercial offerings to academic
examples, to the few web-based library games that had been produced. The results of this
research coupled with the known limitations we faced shaped our decision on the direction
to take with development. UAs game development group did not pursue grant funding and
additional resources were limited for the purposes of our effort. All of the members were
able to carve out time for the project from their normal responsibilities. While some of the
members worked in technology and possessed accompanying skills, most of the members
did not. Nevertheless, we all took on the role of game developers and the responsibility of
seeing the project through to completion. The group recognized that, as stated earlier, we
could not build a more traditional game that could compete with big budget commercial
titles, but we needed a format that was approachable and could be interesting and engaging
to UA students. Creating an alternate reality game became the groups most favored approach
to pursue.38
Most of the librarians involved in the game development group were not gamers. Only
a few had any signicant gaming experience, the majority had almost none. It is debatable
whether this decit made the groups work more difcult, but the diversity of the group
certainly helped provide needed perspectives when building game components that relied
on library resources. Most of the group was very committed to building the best game we
could and wanted to better understand gaming concepts that would help with the effort.
Everyone in the group read Szulborskis This Is Not a Game to become more familiar with
ARGs. We were excited about breaking new ground by building what we believed was a
unique approach to the library game.
Project Velius ran for ve weeks from midSeptember to late October 2009 with game
events moving forward in real time. While available to the entire university community,
additional efforts were made to engage incoming freshmen students.39 The games objective
was to balance instructional aspects with a fun and intriguing story. The library resources
selected for the game represented a breadth of the libraries content and included unique
material from special collections, electronic course reserves, and an important, mostly full-
text database. These materials contained both clues and puzzles that advanced the games
central story. The group was careful to ensure that players experienced all of the library
resources just as they would if using them for their own research. The challenge was creating
a story that would naturally weave in all of this material.
The game was built to be played entirely online so as to accommodate off campus stu-
dents in online classes or programs. Social media played a prominent role in both the char-
acter and player interactions. Project Velius relied on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in
addition to blogs and a host of websites built specically for the game. There were three
Twitter accounts closely linked to two WordPress blogs that served as the primary conduit
through which information passed to players. With the assistance of the University Libraries
Sanford Media Center staff, a YouTube video was created in which library personnel took
on the roles of the characters to act out a critical part of the storyline. The reliance on social
media t well with the games efforts to reach players in their usual environments, but it
was also very easy for us to create Twitter accounts and a Facebook group page compared
to building more technically challenging game components.
Social media also t the games cooperative approach. Students were accustomed to
interacting with their peers via Facebook, so a Facebook group was created as a hub for
players to discuss clues and work through puzzles. This group page also gave the game
development group an opportunity to see how players were progressing and, if needed,
Beyond the Board (Battles) 195

anonymously step in to provide hints to get them back on the right path. Creating a coop-
erative rather than a competitive game was a conscious choice. Many ARGs are cooperative
and the development group believed this approach would foster the type of player interaction
that we were trying to encourage.
The story is the most important part of any ARG, but it also is arguably the most

Project Velius marketing poster created by the University of Alabama Libraries staff.
196 Games in Libraries

difcult to create. Traditional ARGs developed by the entertainment industry have no lim-
itations on their storytelling. A public institution like UA is often more sensitive to con-
troversial topics and thus our group developing the University Libraries ARG was somewhat
limited in the type of story we could create. Even without considering these constraints,
story creation and development remained the primary challenge facing us. Three team mem-
bers took the lead in building the story. What they soon learned was that ARGs are more
similar to plays than to narrative works and that what they needed to write was a script. In
an ARG, there are multiple elements whose interactions need to occur in a specic sequence.
The writing subgroup developed two documents: the primary story with all of the clues,
character interactions, and elements linked to the different library resources and a task list
for the puppet masters playing the character roles that detailed the who, what, and when
for each tweet and blog post they needed to generate.40 The characters mattered a great deal
and having believable characters means devoting considerable effort to character creation
and development. In the case of UAs game, this meant that characters blog entries were
backdated to give them a history prior to the events of the game.
The games plot focused on the main character, Sophia, and her search for her missing
boyfriend Stephen. Players were enlisted to help Sophia discover the reason for his disap-
pearance and locate his whereabouts. Stephen was working at a genetics company called
Yenos Research and as the game progressed it became apparent that the nature of his work
was an important clue. Players retraced Stephens footsteps through course material from a
UA professor to unique items he reviewed in special collections. In the end, Stephen was
involved in a secret genetics project that he had been coerced to participate in to protect
ARGs often use viral or indirect marketing to draw in players. The UA group initially
planned to follow this approach in hopes that well-placed, mysterious web messages and
print material would stir the curiosity of students. Two core problems led us to alter this
plan: viral marketing is too unpredictable and the game needed to be represented as such
to the university community. By indicating that Project Velius was a game through our mar-
keting, we were better able to control the timing of initial events by directing players to the
games main site prior to launch. In other words, we didnt have to wait for them to discover
the rabbit hole, we led them to it. The marketing material included print ads in the campus
newspaper and web ads on the University Libraries website along with posters placed across
campus. There was an effort to engage campus faculty teaching core English courses to
introduce the game in class and some librarians promoted it during bibliographic instruction
sessions, but these efforts came later in the game development process than they should
The game development group used a number of methods for assessing Project Velius.
Web statistics provided by Google Analytics were gathered for all of the games associated
websites and blogs. This information allowed us to see how far players were progressing,
but it was imperfect. The Google Analytics numbers were augmented with an online and
print survey distributed via the Facebook group and post-game reception. Both provided
another level of feedback with the latter giving the development group an opportunity to
interact with players one-on-one. The statistics showed strong web trafc to the main game
site, and the surveys overwhelming indicated that players had learned something about the
University Libraries by participating in the game.42 The ARG format was well received with
many survey respondents drawn to the story and the mystery of Stephens disappearance.
There was a downside. Statistics indicated that only about 50 players completed the majority
Beyond the Board (Battles) 197

of the game. In the end, the game had a strong start but didnt keep players engaged to the
degree we had hoped.
We learned a great deal about game development and ARGs by building Project Velius.
Perhaps one of the primary shortfalls of the game was the inability to easily replay it. Many
of the game assets were reusable, but considerable work would have been required to reset
dates or otherwise rewind blog posts, tweets, etc.43 The Facebook group would also have
needed to be entirely recreated or wiped so as not to spoil the game for future players. Since
the storyline was used in a broad setting, it was difcult to reintroduce it without having
some players already aware of how the story progressed. The solution was to focus the game
on a specic course(s), incoming freshmen, or an otherwise distinct group. Had the game
been tied to a class, credit for completing it could have proven a useful incentive for players.
The cooperative nature of the game did not lend itself to otherwise awarding a prize since
there was no single winner. The team believed the lack of some type of reward made the
game less enticing to students.
The progression of the game also impacted player engagement. As mentioned previ-
ously, the games main website had a signicant number of initial visitors, but there was a
marked decline in visits to sites further into the story. The main site was stagnant for too
long, and the beginning of the game did not move quickly enough to keep players engaged.44
Project Velius was also designed so that player progression was controlled or gated preventing
them from moving beyond a certain point until a specic time. This was done so the events
could play out in real time, but players worked through puzzles more quickly than anticipated
and were left waiting until they could move to the next part of the story. Since the devel-
opment group had limited resources, a shorter game would have worked better in our cir-
Project Velius stands as a great example of an intricate, complex, and completely inter-
nally constructed library ARG. As edgling game developers, we managed to create something
unique and engaging. The game succeeded in highlighting library collections and marketing
library services while delivering information literacy instruction. However, there is no doubt
that we made some missteps along the way. We were perhaps a bit too ambitious with our
scope. We would have achieved a degree of replayability by simply targeting the game to a
select group (freshmen, English 101, etc.). Other libraries have managed to create successful
ARGs by taking more measured approaches through either collaborating in broader efforts
or focusing their games on a particular group.

The University of Florida

The University of Florida Libraries worked with third-party game designers in a col-
laborative campus-wide alternate reality game, Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ).45 The game
was developed by Gnarwhal Studios and is available for free under a Creative Commons
license. HvZ is a form of moderated tag and live action was a core part of the game.46
Many institutions across the world have staged iterations of the game. At UF, 1,000 students
participated in the spring 2010 event. One of which began the game as a zombie with the
task of tagging others to infect as many as possible over the course of a week. The game
consisted of a series of missions or problem-based learning scenarios.47 Margeaux Johnson,
Amy Buhler, and Chris Hillmans The Library Is Undead: Information Seeking During
the Zombie Apocalypse recounts the University of Florida Libraries part in the campus
HvZ game.48
198 Games in Libraries

The Marston Science Library, one of the nine UF libraries, decided to get involved
just days prior to the beginning of the campus Humans vs. Zombies game. The librarians
saw the short timeframe as an asset that required them to think quickly and creatively
and kept them from overthinking the game design.49 A librarian created Zombie Survival
LibGuide ( prompted campus game moderators to use
the Marston Science Library mission as the rst part of the week-long event in Gainesville.50
The learning objectives of the library mission focused on electronic resources including
maps, course resources, the library catalog, and a databases page designed for undergraduates.
Players could complete the missions four activities in any order. Participation was tracked
through an initial registration and nal certication process. Players had to provide their
major and academic year as well as sign a photo release at registration. After certication,
the rst 100 to complete the mission received themed cupcakes funded by the librarys Public
Relations and Marketing Committee.51
The library did some of its own marketing for the game. The aforementioned Zombie
Survival LibGuide promoted library resources that were remotely available in the event of
a zombie attack.52 The LibGuide was very popular long after the game concluded remaining
the 4th most popular guide at the University of Florida Libraries into late September 2010.
Twitter posts also highlighted the LibGuide and the upcoming event. Print material includ-
ing zombie-themed masks were also part of the marketing effort.53
The library mission was completed by about 20 percent (183) of the HvZ players.
Ninety percent of those were undergraduates. There was a fair distribution among the classes
with juniors represented the most with 29 percent. Since the librarians at the Marston
Science Library designed and hosted the library mission and most of the print marketing
material was located there, it is not surprising that the overwhelming number of students
participating were Science and Engineering majors.
Similarly to UAs experience, unexpected issues arose during the execution of HvZ.
Despite testing the library mission with library student assistants, once actual players began
working through the activities confusion arose about completing the tasks. The limited
time available for players to complete the mission was a problem, but it also exacerbated
an issue with students sharing solutions with one another.54 While initially considered a
positive, the short lead time for the librarians to prepare for the game impacted both their
ability to better plan the mission and their collection of more in-depth data.55
The University of Florida Libraries Humans vs. Zombies ARG was quite successful.
By teaming with seasoned game developers they had a proven framework within which to
develop their own mission. Leading off the campus-wide game also helped make it a success
and gave the librarians involved an opportunity to engage players and provide information
literacy instruction in a fun and creative way.

Penn State University

Project Velius was entirely online and completely constructed by librarians at the Uni-
versity of Alabama. Humans vs. Zombies was a popular third party framework with a strong
live action component leveraged by the University of Florida and librarians at the Marston
Science Library. Penn State University Libraries created their own ARG in late 2009 that shared
similarities to both of these approaches. Combining their own original story with live elements,
the Libraries, Digital Commons, and Educational Gaming Commons collaborated to build
an alternate reality game that coincided with the University Libraries annual Open House.56
Beyond the Board (Battles) 199

Penn States game centered on a magic trick gone awry thus causing the disappearance
of the Original Nittany Lion that had been on display in the Pattee Library. Players had
to discover the magic words needed to return the Nittany Lion.57 An initial word puzzle
led to a video that started the multi-part game that took students around an hour to com-
plete. Participants had to use library resources including the library catalog, online article
databases, print resources, and microlm.58 The game also provided a signicant incentive
for players: a chance to win a free laptop donated by Dell. Feedback for the game was
extremely positive and indicated that students had learned something about the library
through playing. Emily Rimlands Using an Alternate Reality Game to Engage Students
in Learning in Student Engagement and the Academic Library provides a detailed look at
the instructional aspects of the game.

The Past and the Future of ARGs in Libraries

While ARGs are more predominant in academic libraries, public and school libraries
have also adopted the genre in their game building efforts. The game created by the Carroll
County Public Library and Carroll County Public Schools in Maryland is a single example
that covers both types of libraries. Their game, Find Chesia, was a collaboration funded by
a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Part of a summer reading
program, the game encouraged players to learn about Maryland and Native American history
while uncovering the mystery of the ctional civilization of Chesia.59
Other libraries have built games that shared similarities to ARGs but are perhaps more
accurately categorized as scavenger hunts. The one exception that does warrant the ARG
label is Trinity Universitys Blood on the Stacks. It was the rst library alternate reality game.
In Blood on the Stacks, students were asked to help catch a thief by nding clues in the
library.60 While the UA and UF games had broad campus audiences, like Penn State, Trinity
focused their efforts on engaging freshmen. First presented during orientation in 2007, the
game occurred over three days and had strong physical components but also had a custom
game website and associated marketing video. Students worked in groups and scored points
for completing tasks.61 Jeremy Donalds The Blood on the Stacks ARG: Immersive Mar-
keting Meets Library New Student Orientation in Gaming in Academic Libraries is the best
overview of the game. Blood on the Stacks as well as all of these examples discussed demon-
strate the breadth of approaches libraries have taken to implement more creative and inter-
active games.
Whether they are all ARGs in the purest sense depends on your perspective, but they
all certainly took unique approaches to library game making. Synopses of other library ARGs
and game building efforts are included in Mara Smales Learning through Quests and Con-
tests: Games in Information Literacy Instruction in the Journal of Library Innovation.62 A
good, practical guide for aspiring ARG builders is John Gosneys book Beyond Reality: A
Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming (2005) which even includes a sample ARG that readers
can play.
ARGs are a divergence from what we traditionally consider games. Their focus on story
and integration with our normal lives give them a feel unlike other gaming experiences.
Although they are still rather new to libraries, the genre has now been around for more than
a decade. ARGs have been wildly successful in many areas, but they are not without detrac-
tors. It seems that some believe the genre is in decline.63 Much of this concern is due to a
200 Games in Libraries

feeling that ARGs have not evolved. That perception is also considered one of the reasons
the term transmedia is now preferred by many ARG developers as it has the air of currency
and relevance.
The reality is that ARGs are very much alive and relevant. From Google to Star Trek,
major games are being built and there is no reason to think that will not continue. There
is no doubt that despite a relatively low technology requirement for ARG developers, they
can be complicated games to create and execute. This means that an ARG may not be the
right approach for every library. However, they offer so much variance as to how they can
be built that it gives library gamemakers a host of options for engaging users. ARG design
is an invigorating, creative process that can also energize librarians and stimulate an organ-
ization. Success is dependent upon librarians that can think broadly about user engagement
and are dedicated to the concept of game building. ARGs let users and librarians stretch
their boundaries like few other endeavors.

1. Dave Szulborski, This Is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming (Macungie: New-Fiction
Publishing, 2005), 1.
2. Ibid., 13.
3. Wikipedia Contributors, The Beast (Game), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed February 16,
2013, http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Beast_(game).
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Wikipedia Contributors, Majestic (Video Game), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed February
16, 2013,
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Trey Walker, Majestic Suspended, GameSpot UK, last modied September 12, 2001, http://uk.
10. Wikipedia Contributors, I Love Bees, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed February 16, 2013,
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Robbie Smith, Is There Something in the Sea? ARGNet: Alternate Reality Gaming Network, last
modied August 26, 2009,
15. Celina Beach, Television and Gaming Merge in Deance for Transmedia War Zone, ARGNet: Alter-
nate Reality Gaming Network, last modied January 16, 2013,
16. Andrew Lang, The 5 Most Insane Alternate Reality Games,, last modied July 30,
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid.
19. Liz Gannes, Google Launches Ingress, a Worldwide Mobile Alternate Reality Game, All Things D,
last modied November 15, 2012,
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. Ingress is available at or at the Google Play store.
23. About World Without Oil, World Without Oil, accessed March 24, 2013, http://worldwithoutoil.
24. The buzz about WWO, World Without Oil, accessed March 24, 2013, http://worldwithoutoil.
25. Michael Andersen, Operation Sleeper Cell: Making the World a Lovelier Place, ARGNet: Alternate
Reality Gaming Network, last modied September 23, 2008,
Beyond the Board (Battles) 201

26. Michael Andersen, Traces of Hope: British Red Cross Launches ARG for Civilians and Conict
Month, ARGNet: Alternate Reality Gaming Network, last modied September 29, 2008, http://www.argn.
27. Ed Zed Omega: A Serious Game Visualizing New Approaches to Education, ARGNet: Alternate
Reality Gaming Network, last modied on August 17, 2012,
28. Alchemy, About the EVOKE game, EVOKE Blog, last modied January 27, 2010, http://blog.urgen
29. Ibid.
30. Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
(Penguin Press, 2011).
31. Jane McGonigals TED Talk and New York Times bestseller Reality Is Broken are but two examples of
her well-documented position on alternate reality gaming as an approach to tackling broad societal problems.
32. L. Johnson, S. Adams Becker, M. Cummins, V. Estrada, A. Freeman, and H. Ludgate, NMC Horizon
Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition (Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium, 2013), 21.
33. Katie Ash, Alternate Reality Games: Bridging Imaginary and Real Worlds, Education Week: Digital
Directions, last modied June 4, 2008,
34. Michael Andersen, IUs Skeleton Chase Gives Students the Runaround, ARGNet: Alternate Reality
Gaming Network, last modied January 25, 2009,
35. Ibid.
36. Christina Chia, Speculation, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, last modied January 12,
37. Ibid.
38. Jason J. Battles, Valerie D. Glenn, and Lindley C. Shedd, Rethinking the Library Game: Creating an
Alternate Reality with Social Media, Journal of Web Librarianship 5, no. 2 (April 1, 2011): 118.
39. Ibid., 121.
40. Ibid., 121.
41. Ibid., 125.
42. Ibid., 127.
43. Ibid., 128.
44. Ibid., 129.
45. http://humansvszombies. org.
46. What is Humans vs. Zombies?, Humans vs. Zombies, accessed March 24, 2013, http://humansvs
47. Margeaux Johnson, Amy Buhler, and Chris Hillman, The Library is Undead: Information Seeking
During the Zombie Apocalypse, Journal of Library Innovation 1, no. 2 (September 2010): 2931.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid., 30.
50. Ibid., 31.
51. Ibid, 3032.
52. Ibid., 32.
53. Ibid., 3335.
54. Ibid., 3536.
55. Ibid., 36.
56. Emily Rimland, Digital Gaming, Penn State University Libraries, accessed March 24, 2013,
57. Ibid.
58. Lauren E. Tyrrell, Abracadabra! Lauren E. Tyrrells Blog, last modied March 27, 2010, http://gaming.
59. Heather Owings, Building an ARG: Alternate Reality Games Challenge Teens to Use Technologies
in New Ways, School Library Journal 55, no. 12 (December 2009): 2627. British Library Document Supply
Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings, EBSCOhost (accessed March 27, 2013).
60. Maura A. Smale, Learning Through Quests and Contests: Games in Information Literacy Instruction,
Journal of Library Innovation 2, no. 2 (September 2011): 45.
61. Ibid.
62. Ibid.
63. Adrian Hon, Are ARGs Dead? A Closer Look at a Common Refrain, ARGNet: Alternate Reality
Gaming Network, last modied November 14, 2012,
202 Games in Libraries

ARGNet. ARGNet: Alternate Reality Gaming Network. Accessed February 16, 2013.
Ash, Katie. Alternate Reality Games: Bridging Imaginary and Real Worlds. Education Week: Digital Direc-
tions. Last modied June 4, 2008.
Battles, Jason J., Valerie D. Glenn, and Lindley C. Shedd. Rethinking the Library Game: Creating an
Alternate Reality with Social Media. Journal of Web Librarianship 5, no. 2 (April 1, 2011): 114131.
Chia, Christina. Speculation. John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. Last modied January 12, 2012.
Donald, Jeremy. The Blood on the Stacks ARG: Immersive Marketing Meets Library New Student Orien-
tation. In Gaming in Academic Libraries: Collections, Marketing and Information Literacy, edited by A.
Harris and S. E. Rice, 189211. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2008.
Gannes, Liz. Google Launches Ingress, a Worldwide Mobile Alternate Reality Game. All Things D. Last
modied November 15, 2012.
Hon, Adrian. Are ARGs Dead? A Closer Look at a Common Refrain. ARGNet. Accessed February 22, 2013.
Humans vs. Zombies. What is Humans vs. Zombies? Accessed March 24, 2013. http://humansvszombies.
Johnson, L., S. Adams Becker, M. Cummins, V. Estrada, A. Freeman, and H. Ludgate. NMC Horizon Report:
2013 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium, 2013.
Johnson, Margeaux, Amy Buhler, and Chris Hillman. The Library is Undead: Information Seeking during
the Zombie Apocalypse. Journal of Library Innovation 1, no. 2 (September 2010): 2943. Accessed February
17, 2013.
Kim, Jeffrey Y., Jonathan P. Allen, and Lee Elan. Alternate Reality Gaming. (Cover Story). Communications
of the ACM 51, no. 2 (February 2008): 3642. EBSCO Business Source Premier (28772699).
Lang, Andrew. The 5 Most Insane Alternate Reality Games. Last modied July 30, 2011.
McGonigal, Jane. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New
York: Penguin Press, 2011.
Owings, Heather. Building an ARG. School Library Journal 55, no. 12 (December 2009): 2627. British
Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings, EBSCOhost (accessed March 27,
Rimland, Emily. Digital Gaming. Penn State University Libraries. Accessed March 24, 2013. http://alumni.
Smale, Maura A. Learning Through Quests and Contests: Games in Information Literacy Instruction.
Journal of Library Innovation 2, no. 2 (September 2011): 3655. Library Literature & Information Science
Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed February 25, 2013).
Szulborski, Dave. This Is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming. Macungie: New-Fiction Publishing,
Walker, Trey. Majestic Suspended. GameSpot UK. Last modied September 12, 2001. http://uk.gamespot.
Wikipedia Contributors. The Beast (Game). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed February 16, 2013.
Wikipedia Contributors. I Love Bees. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed February16, 2013. http://en.
Wikipedia Contributors. Majestic (Video Game). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed February 16,
World Without Oil. About World Without Oil. Accessed February 16, 2013. http://worldwithoutoil.
A Bag of Tricks for Successful
Library Games

Your rst ten games will suck so get them out of the way fast. 1

I jumped into educational game design without doing a lot of research on games in
libraries or game-based learning in general. It wasnt until I had several successful games
under my belt and wanted to share them in scholarly venues that I started reading about
what other people were doing. I have since done a great deal of research and reection, and
I am happy to have had the contrasting experiences of being free from others inuence and
being able to rely on others hard-earned wisdom as I continue to develop as a librarian
game designer.
My rst attempt at game design certainly did stink, but I learned from that experience,
as well as through reading, and eventually through contacts with other librarian game design-
ers. This chapter reects on some of my more transformative experiences in game design
and I will share my resulting suggestions for other librarian-game designers. Earlier in this
book, I introduced four critical questions that potential game designing librarians should
ask themselves before attempting to design a game. There is signicant overlap between
what I suggested in that chapter and recommendations to make games more likely to succeed.
This chapter will touch on some of those commonalities, but will focus on tips to consider
after the decision has been made to create an educational game in your library.
My rst attempt to build a library game was in 2008 and was called Adventures in
Library Research. I had been playing with Adobe Flash for the creation of interactive library
tutorials, and I had obtained a copy of the book Beginning Flash Game Programming for
Dummies.2 I was a new librarian who was enthusiastic and interested in Web technologies,
but I had no experience in game design or even much experience in playing digital games.
The extent of my knowledge on game-based learning was limited to Jeopardy! in the library
classroom. The game story in Adventures was a student who had to write a paper using
library resources. In other words, there was no fantasy to add interest to this game. The
graphics and animations were incredibly simple, and the questions were almost all multiple
I used this game as the main educational activity in a rst-year, non-majors biology
class early in the fall semester of 2008. The students worked individually and the room
was completely quiet while they worked. At the end, they were not excited or inspired, and
on a one-minute paper I used to evaluate the session, one student asked why the class had
to come to the library to do nothing but use the computer. They could have done this any-
where, why not take advantage of the actual library? This struck me as profound advice,

204 Games in Libraries

and I scrapped this game (which was very time-consuming to develop) and started from
I almost consider Adventures in Library Research and Secret Agent in the Library3 to be
two versions of the same game, although at rst they dont look very similar. I liked that
Adventures linked to actual digital library resources, such as our Britannica Online subscrip-
tion, our Online Catalog, and several live databases and that it walked through the gen-
eral-to-specic research process of reference books to books to scholarly articles. The
multiple choice questions werent bad, but there were key points where the players simply
guessed rather than do what the game asked them to do. While I couldnt improve on the
animations due to limited skills, I could avoid situations in the games story where players
would expect more sophisticated animation than I was equipped to deliver. Adventures
biggest drawbacks were that it was too general, it was not designed to be played in class,
and above all, it was boring.
Secret Agent in the Library was built specically for freshmen composition courses, of
which I taught at least four sections each semester. In this game, I knew there had to be a
more exciting story, that students would have to work in teams, and that they would have
to use physical as well as virtual library resources. I quickly settled on the theme of secret
agents, having recently seen the movie Charlies Angels. The library could be an information
mainframe that an intruder had broken into, and the help materials could be called a tool
kit. This included several physical aids including maps, a sheet explaining Library of Con-
gress call numbers, and a list of secret code words decoded (library vocabulary). Students
would play the role of secret agent rookies trying to earn full secret agent status. There were
two places where players were required to retrieve a physical item, one a book and one a
volume of a particular print journal. They could not progress in the game without nding
the physical materials requested.
Finally, I inserted myself into the story of Secret Agent in several ways. In the instruc-
tions, I introduced myself by the code name The Librarian. On the surface, this seems
very unoriginal. However, the point was to get players to notice us and realize we are here
to help. I also went to the stacks as they were looking for their physical book so they saw
me as a potential source of help. Finally, all groups were looking for the same print journal
title. They were instructed to bring one volume to The Librarian who would give them
the code to enter into the game. In this way, I removed some of the distance between myself
and the players so they would recognize librarians as one of the resources available to help
them navigate the library.
I introduced the composition students to Secret Agent in the Library later that same
semester, and included a clicker assessment as a debrieng activity. It was an entirely different
experience from Adventures. Students were working with their group members, pooling
their collective knowledge to answer questions and therefore learning more from each other
than they possibly could have from me. They were observed singing the James Bond theme
song, holding their hands like fake guns, and pretending to hide from me in the stacks, as
if they were really secret agents. Clearly, they were into the fantasy, and their scores, clicker
review activity, and resulting discussion showed they had met the learning objectives I had
Shortly after this busy semester with Adventures and Secret Agent, I began working on
Goblin Threat,4 an online game to educate our students on plagiarism. Goblin Threat is by
far my biggest game yet, both in the amount of time it took to develop (four months), and
how much use it has gotten from the Lycoming community and from other universities,
A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games (Snyder Broussard) 205

colleges, and high schools. Around the time that Goblin Threat went live in the fall of 2009,
we launched our new game-based freshman orientation activity. Needless to say, I learned
a lot about educational games in those twelve months.
When put to the test with students in the library classroom, my rst game was a bust,
while my second one was pretty successful and subsequent ones were enormously successful.
This transition from Adventures in Library Research (which was not fun and probably not
that educational) to Secret Agent in the Library (which was both) was a huge learning expe-
rience for me. My interest in game design for the library classroom took off from there. I
would like to share some of the lessons I learned over this busy year of game design so that
others may pick up something useful from it.

Balancing Educational Content and Fun

One of the most challenging and controversial parts of educational games is balancing
fun and content. It is easy to imagine a spectrum that spans between fun and educational.
On this spectrum, you would have to sacrice one for the other. However, the heavily-crit-
icized edutainment games show that a lack of fun and bad pedagogy are often related.
Edutainment often boils down to drill-and-kill learning,5 such as Number Munchers, or
trivia, including the ubiquitous Library Jeopardy.6 They are not usually fun, and they do
not demonstrate good pedagogy. On the other hand, many commercial video games show
us how much higher-order learning can happen in games even if their main purpose is
entertainment. Not only are these games fun, but the fun comes from the challenges, which
require players to recognize patterns and gain skills. In other words, commercially successful
games are excellent teachers.7
Squire looked at how off-the-shelf commercial games, particularly the Civilization
series, can be successfully used in the classroom.8 However, because commercial games are
primarily entertainment, the education is secondary. Furthermore, it is frequently impossible
to nd a suitable off-the-shelf game and these games take many hours to play. This is not
practical or efcient when teachers contact time with students is so precious. There have
been a number of successful and more efcient educational games specically designed for
K-12 classrooms, such as Taiga Park, Mad City Mystery, and Greenbush.9 These examples
appear to have a good balance of fun and educational content, but were also complex and
required many resources to develop.
As we start to apply these examples of edutainment, commercial video games, and suc-
cessful classroom games to libraries, what do they mean for us? In building Adventures in
Library Research, I was looking to take advantage of digital games convenience they can
be played when the player has time and at their desired pace. But it was just a tutorial; the
activity wasnt fun. Furthermore, I discovered that digital games have the distinct disadvan-
tage of abstracting the simulated research skills to a greater degree than I had anticipated.
It is very difcult to make the skills in a digital library game transfer well to the real library
skills we want students to apply to the subsequent assignment, particularly with limited
game design resources. It also distances the student players from the librarians and other
services meant to provide individual help.
Much of the fun in simple educational games revolves around fantasy and humor. The
point of educational games is to simulate reality, so that the skills learned within the game
are useful in real life. Adventures in Library Research was a simulation. It is the addition of
206 Games in Libraries

fantasy that turns a simulation into a game10 and fantasy is closely related to motivation.11
Fantasy was a key element in Secret Agent. Students played rookie agents trying to solve a
mystery. The mystery was simple and silly, but they bought into it, which made the activity
much more fun and effective.
We should all strive for what Charsky12 calls endogenous fantasy, which happens
when the story and the activity are very closely related. The word endogenous means deriv-
ing from within.13 He wants educational game designers to avoid simply putting a game
on top of a test as a reward (which he calls exogenous fantasy). Instead, the game should
come from the educational content. In discussing big games in an ALA Techsource con-
ference keynote speech, Trefry14 lists a number of advantages that libraries have for game
Collections the content in our books, journals, and databases
Spaces inspiring physical settings and corners for secret meeting places
Symbols i.e. unique artwork
Tools i.e. copiers and wireless Internet
Unique identiers i.e. call numbers
Referees library staff.
He encourages librarians to take advantage of these key resources to create games by
adding goals to normal activities. While he is not specically talking about educational
games or endogenous fantasy, this is perfect advice for educational library game designers,
as building games derived from authentic library activities has potential for not only the
best learning experiences, but also the best games.
While there is a time and a place for exogenous fantasy (it works quite well in my
Goblin Threat plagiarism game), librarian game designers should strive to create games that
derive themselves from the materials and locations in the library, and from the learning
objectives the game is based on. This creates a more authentic learning and playing expe-
rience. At Lycoming Colleges library, we do this best in our freshman orientation activity,
where players needed to nd letter clues to complete a ransom note to nd the missing Lyco

Letter clues in librarians

names. The paw print
appeared on specially-
designed shirts worn by the
three instruction librarians
for the event, while the dog
house appeared on their
A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games (Snyder Broussard) 207

Orientation transparency outlining specic library locations. When lined up with the actual
location, a letter clue is highlighted. This activity was taken from Ran Some Ransom game at
the 2009 Come out & Play Festival.
208 Games in Libraries

Dog, an unofcial school mascot. One of our goals for the activity was to identify the three
instruction librarians, as we are who they will see in the library classroom and most often
at the Research Help Desk. Each of us wore a specially-designed shirt with her name on
it, and one of the letter clues is found in each name. This was a more authentic activity
because players had to see each of us, up close, and the clue was directly tied to the name
we hoped they would remember.
We also had several fun locations to nd in the library, such as the vending machines
and the Leisure Reading Collection. Because we simply wanted students to know these
existed, we chose a fun and low-tech augmented reality activity where students lined up
transparencies with the actual library locations. The transparencies outlined these areas and
highlighted a letter for their ransom note.
Using existing letters in names and signs enabled us to authentically tie the learning
objectives to the goal of fantasy. We have found these opportunities to combine reality and
fantasy happen serendipitously. It has always occurred when designing in teams, often while
joking, when the activity suddenly clicks and feels right.
Finally, one simple way to add both fun and higher-level thinking skills to an educa-
tional game is to design the game so that students play in groups. Collaborative and coop-
erative experiences lead to more memorable learning and the social interaction often increases
the fun. Students will often take the time to work a question out verbally in a group that
they would have casually guessed on their own.
I was pleasantly surprised to observe how deeply students collaborated when playing
Secret Agent in the Library. They not only read the question out loud, but they discussed
each question until the group came to a consensus. In the negotiations between members,
there was often a good deal of synthesis and evaluation, the higher-order skills instruction
librarians strive for. This social learning environment also encouraged students to indulge
in the games fantasy theme, which also increased the enjoyment of the learning experi-

Designing from the Players Perspective

When discussing fun, the key is to imagine the activity from the players perspective.
One of the fundamental elements of game design is that the actual game is just an artifact.15
While we talk about designing games, we are actually designing experiences for the players.
The content is what we want our players to learn, while the activity should be something
that they would nd enjoyable. To create a good experience for the players, we need to be
in touch with what they want. The best way to do this is ask a sample group.
Shortly after my initial success with Secret Agent in the Library with composition
students, I set my sights on creating an online plagiarism game. While I was developing
some ideas on my own and starting to play more digital games, I knew I needed some
help from the players I was designing for. I invited a small group of students from our
colleges Creative Arts Society. In exchange for homemade food, they were happy to talk
about their favorite games and brainstorm ideas for games in the library. I was careful to
let them have free reign in their suggestions, an important element for productive brain-
storming. Some of the results were priceless, and I noticed that the group members often
tied the educational content to the fun. Here are some of the highlights of the rst focus
A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games (Snyder Broussard) 209

Have laser tag in the library and when you nd certain library resources, you get
several seconds of immunity.
Add Your mission, if you choose to accept it message to the secret agent
Themes: For freshman orientation, do a themed (i.e. pirates) scavenger hunt.
Could involve points, keep score with tokens, passbook, or big leader board to
award prizes at end.
Again for orientation, split each cluster of students into groups, each group with a
different color of handouts. Each color will be a different track, where one clue
will lead to the next.
Reminisced about the Temple of the Hidden Monkey where contestants had to
build monkey statues while avoiding guards. In this case, library staff could be
guards that deduct points if they catch students running.
Players get video clues in one of the screening rooms.
Have some kind of lock box players are working to open, which will contain
small prizes like lollipops at the end.
They really liked the idea of animating the Boolean operators sequence in Secret
Agent in the Library so that pressing AND & OR buttons will rearrange objects
that t the search (like only the spies wearing yellow coats AND red pants).
They think we can assume students have cameras with them, especially on cell
phones. Could use those for photo scavenger hunts.
They thought the idea of Big Games was really cool. I told them about
juxtaposing maps of campus or Williamsport with some other map. They
suggested Gotham (if such a map exists), Narnia, Middle Earth, or Eragon.

Many of these suggestions proved useful the following summer when our instructional serv-
ices librarians reorganized our freshman orientation. We chose a mystery-themed treasure
hunt activity where students found clues around the library to identify the location of a
kidnapped dog. We used the idea of color-coded groups, each of which completed the same
activities in different orders so that the groups were spread throughout in the building. We
also had one video clue in which the library director introduced herself and gave a letter
clue from her name. This was primarily intended to introduce the students to one of our
two screening rooms.
Other suggestions from the focus group have been worked into our digital games. I
used some of their advice to expand Secret Agents, which had already been used for one
semester, but had room for improvement. One of these enhancements included adding the
suggested terminology and humor to the instructions to augment the games fantasy. In the
new version, the instructions were delivered as sheets coming out of a fax machine, the last
of which self-destructs after a brief countdown. Additionally, the Boolean operators activity
was enriched so that players were given six spies in colorful clothes and asked to select the
ones that t the search phrase BLUE AND GREEN. This was followed by an identical line-
up of spies and the players are asked to select those that t the search phrase BLUE OR
GREEN. This adds an element of humor to the comprehension check on this important
aspect of using scholarly databases.
Several years later, I was able to use the map and camera ideas for The Lyco Map Game,16
a campus history game during our colleges bicentennial celebrations. While I did not use
a ctional map, I juxtaposed historical campus maps with the current campus map and
210 Games in Libraries

asked players to nd all buildings and major landmarks, past and present. At each location,
teams took a picture of a game poster with a smart phone and sent it to a central Picasa
account where pictures were manually scored.
Finally, it cannot be emphasized enough that thorough playtesting must be done
throughout the design process. Playtesting is a form of assessment where the game is given
to potential players to play and provide feedback on what works and does not work. Most
library games are linear, meaning that the activities need to happen in a certain order. These
games, whether online or in person, can utterly disintegrate during gameplay if players nd
a glitch that cannot be surmounted. During this testing process, student feedback should
be sought, and not only from student workers as they are likely to act differently than the
average student player. I was able to use my focus group for feedback on the online games
I was developing, and we also solicited the football coach for volunteers during the pre-
semester football camp to test out our new freshman orientation activity. Our testers have
always been gracious and willing participants who provided great feedback. In many cases,
they actually had fun.

Assessment in Games
As part of good pedagogical practice, we should not forget to incorporate assessment
into our game-based instruction, particularly formative assessment. Formative assessment
happens when the instructor gives students a task in which students provide observable evi-
dence of their understanding or knowledge, which allows the instructor to provide feedback
and adapt his or her instruction to best meet the students needs. The feedback provided
by the instructor also allows students to adjust their motivation levels and learning strategies
in order to improve their overall performance.
In a recent study,17 I matched eight major characteristics that formative assessment and
game-based learning have in common, concluding this was evidence that educational games
could make excellent environments for formative assessment. These eight shared character-
istics were:
Active learning
Moratoriums (safe learning spaces)
Critical thinking and self-assessment
Social learning
Stealth assessment.
Formative assessments are not only part of good pedagogy, they also mimic what is expertly
done in commercial video games. In these commercial games, formative assessment comes
in the form of incremental increase in difculty level when skill prociency is demonstrated
(scaffolding), choke-points or gating where players cannot progress until mastery is demon-
strated, and an abundance of adaptive feedback. Games adapt to the players performance
to either provide remedial support or move them to something more challenging so that
players are always staying on the edge of mastery.
In purely digital games, this adaptive feedback must be pre-programmed by the game
A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games (Snyder Broussard) 211

designers and programmers. For example, help tools, mini-tutorials, and other remedial
apparatuses can be available at point of need or when undesirable behaviors are being dis-
played. As librarian-game designers do not think like students, this increases the need for
playtesting throughout the process so that the most likely player responses are accounted
for during the design. Positive feedback for right answers and demonstration of good under-
standing in digital games may include afrmative sound effects like applause or an encour-
aging graphic.
Adventures in Library Research did include many elements of formative assessment in
the form of feedback tailored to the answer the player chose. If the answer was correct, they
received a Correct! message with a harp sound effect, and they gained points. Incorrect
answers came with a gong sound effect and mini tutorial. I had a toolbar with point-of-
need help, including a library directory, a link to view the assignment again, and a phone
icon labeled Ask a Librarian that would offer a speech bubble with a hint. I have built all
of my subsequent games with as many opportunities for feedback and help as possible,
trying to prevent players from becoming frustrated and stuck.
An important part of formative assessment is providing learners with a safe place to
learn. This is particularly important with game-based learning because trial-and-error is so
important to games and the types of learning it promotes. Gee18 points out that many com-
mercial video games have safe places to test out newly-acquired skills, and calls these safe
learning spaces moratoriums. This is also important because players have different types
of game preferences, there are many learning styles, and the stress of being judged through
a game will force students to focus more on avoiding failure than on learning the material.
This works well for instruction librarians as we do not often give grades. However, the
game design should go beyond the lack of grades, it should also minimize the risk for humil-
iation as much as possible. This means we should use competition judiciously.
Many real-world library games use the treasure hunt game mechanic, which requires
players to nd objects. The act of successfully nding a sought-after object (such as a particular
book in the stacks) provides feedback to the students that they are performing the requested
task (such as reading call numbers) correctly. It is built-in assessment in the form of afrmative
feedback. This treasure hunt mechanic was an important part of Secret Agent in the Library.
Because this was a hybrid online/real-world game and the exploration of the physical resources
was key to the exercise, I did not want to allow students to be able to just guess on the specic
activities related to nding a book or print journal on the shelf. These are fundamental skills
in conducting library research. Instead, I required players to retrieve the item and nd a
three-digit secret code hidden in a particular book title to enter into the game. The possibility
of players correctly guessing a three digit code in the amount of time they have in the class
is so unlikely that they are forced into the stacks to nd their groups book.
Because many librarians who design digital games have limited time and access to pro-
gramming skills, multiple choice and matching questions are the easiest to design. Yet there
is a wide range in the pedagogical quality of multiple choice questions. We can write ques-
tions that require critical thought. When I was designing Goblin Threat, I saved the ques-
tion-development for the end. Fortunately, we had a local alumna who was in a library
science graduate program and wanted to do an internship with us over the summer. This
experience was mutually benecial. On her side, this was as close to a traditional instruction
experience as we could provide at that time of year. On our side, we could tap her experience
as a high school English teacher, which included experience in writing meaningful test
questions. We collaborated on writing questions and were pleased with the result.
212 Games in Libraries

In Goblin Threat, the question types rotate between multiple choice, true/false, match-
ing, and hot-spot questions. The matching questions have more than one right answer, so
the player has to consider each possible answer. We added graphics to the matching questions
to make them more fun. For example, when attempting to eliminate the goblin at the
campus cafe, potential answers chosen turn into food on a tray. Correct answers turn into
milk, a banana, or an apple while incorrect answers turn into cake or potato chips.
In the previous paragraphs, we have used formative assessment to talk about assess-
ment of student knowledge and learning. Yet librarians also need to collect formative assess-
ment to improve their own teaching, including their instructional games. This is often
done through evidence the students provide towards the end of class (whether formally or
informally collected), and reection on how to improve for the next time the activity is
repeated. We cannot be afraid to admit our game needs improvement or a total redesign.
In the rst year of our campuss game-based orientation activity, the game packet that
students received at the beginning of the game included a ransom note with blank spaces
for each letter clue represented by a number until the letter was identied. While we found
the whole activity worked very well and had no major problems, we did nd that a number
of groups were able to nd a few letters and guess the remaining clues without doing the
learning activities, like in Wheel of Fortune. Some of these students did not want to do the
library activities, while many others genuinely thought the purpose was to solve the puzzle,
not learn about the library. After the orientation, the two designers sat down to think about
improvement for the following year. The solution was relatively simple. Instead of initially
giving students the ransom note, where letter clues were in the order to decode the message
and solve the game, they were given a sheet to record their clues in numerical order. Once
they showed a library staff member that they had located all of the clues, they were given
the ransom note and were able to locate the review activity. We have done this slightly-
revised orientation for three years now, we no longer witness students trying to cheat.

Integrating Games into the Library Classroom

You cannot drop a game into the library classroom and expect students to learn much
from it. Carefully planned introductions before the game and debriengs after the game are
critical for effective game-based learning. The introduction is the time for instructions on
what students will need to do during the game. Consider introducing the fantasy element
at this point by providing instructions as part of the story, and using positive words like
must as opposed to cant.19 The introduction is also an important time to explain to stu-
dents why they are playing the game. Depending on the games activities, the educational
purpose may not be apparent right away and may leave students feeling lost. This is not an
effective learning environment. However, a brief introduction to the purpose of the game
before sending players off into groups can give them a head-start on the games activities.
Nicholson20 argues that educational games often fail not because of the quality of the
game itself, but because it is not well-integrated into the class. Without the debrieng, the
learners are only getting the activity and not the guidance to help them connect that activity
into their existing mental models.21 The debrieng may be the most important part of edu-
cational games, as it is where the class (led by the librarian) ties the game activities to
concrete library skills that will help students perform better on their future assignments.
This is particularly important for weaker students who may not be as good at drawing this
A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games (Snyder Broussard) 213

comparison themselves.22 An educational game is a learning experience, and students cannot

be left to process the experience alone. The debrieng is a time to reect on the game and
the new skills it contains and give students the opportunity to share their affective and cog-
nitive experience with the game. When done correctly, debrieng offers additional oppor-
tunities to compensate for simple games or games that did not go as well as planned. This
can be where the librarian encourages higher-order thinking skills and the more abstract,
big-picture information literacy skills we strive for.
While the introduction can be done as a short lecture, the debrieng is usually a learner-
focused and collaborative activity. For example, a class-wide discussion is a common
debrieng activity. In such discussions, the librarian has an important role in facilitating
the discussion to make sure it allows for students to share their affective reactions to the
experience and then discuss how the game connects to the learning goals, and then to the
assignment. In addition to discussion, Nicholson suggests a number of other debrieng
activities that could work well within the time constraints of the library classroom.23 These
include encouraging students to design another game that covers that content and having
students create their own badges representing the achievements of which they are most
proud. He also discusses several ways in which debrieng can be worked into the game
itself, though this should be done with caution in simple library games. Whatever debrieng
method is used, be sure it emphasizes reection.
For the rst implementation of Secret Agents in the Library, I thought the instructions
in the online part of the game were enough for students to get started. As they came into
the classroom, I simply directed them to divide themselves into groups and go to one of
the computer stations where the game was set up. While they eventually got into the activity,
it took a while. With the second group of students, I told them that we would be playing
a game that day to learn about the library and research, with a few additional instructions.
The students with even this minimal, spontaneous introduction settled into the activity
much more quickly, and probably got much more out of the rst half of the game.
Fortunately, I had planned better with the debrieng activity. I had prepared a set of
clicker questions focusing on what they should have learned in the game, but without the
fantasy language. Depending on the results, I would give a mini lecture on the topic, open
the oor for discussion, or move on if all students seemed to understand. The last question
asked students if the activity was a fun way to learn about the library. In hindsight, this
should have been earlier in the debrieng, yet it still gave them an opportunity to share
their affective reactions to the game. The structure of the clickers with the exibility of dis-
cussion provided a good mix for an effective and efcient debrieng in my limited time
with these students. Between the two types of data I collected, and my ability to give
feedback when necessary, I left the library classroom feeling satised that they had met the
games learning objectives.

I attended a panel session on games in libraries at the Association of College and
Research Libraries (ACRL) 2011 Conference led by Baker, Todd, and Waelchli.24 It was the
only conference session I have ever attended where few people left when the allotted time
ended. The questions continued to pour in for the three speakers because there was so much
interest in game-based learning for libraries. Later that day, when my colleague and I pre-
214 Games in Libraries

sented our game-based orientation, we received similar questions. In the questions and
comments, there was a frequent theme of intimidation as attendees looked for a starting
point to bring games to their libraries. A good starting point is Library Jeopardy!, or some
other short and simple game in the library classroom. Afterward, you can analyze what
worked. Did students like the competition? Can you think of a way to add an activity that
would simulate the research process you are trying to teach and encourage them to take on
the role of a researcher? Gradually build on what works for you and for your students.
It can be helpful to learn what other librarian-game designers have done before you,
especially for games that require time and money (both very precious resources in academic
libraries). There is a lot of available evidence of what makes a successful library game and
what is, to put it bluntly, a waste of time and money. We can learn from others successes
and failures. The fact that you are reading this book suggests that you have already taken
this suggestion to heart.
Yet at the same time, it is important to take your local culture and the specic con-
straints of the game into consideration. Educational games must be adapted rather than
adopted. For example, the librarians at Hiram College worked their outreach event around
an existing Humans vs. Zombies community,25 which doesnt exist on our campus. The
librarians cleverly snuck in an educational component to teach players about important
library locations. This is strikingly similar to my student focus groups suggestion to use
laser tag in the library as a way to teach library locations. Furthermore, as a small campus
with a very collegial community among faculty, Lycoming librarians have a lot of opportunity
to get faculty input on our games. We even had a number of faculty dress up to participate
in our annual Harry Potter Night. As you read about games that you might be interested
in bringing to your campus, think of how the local culture will affect those games, and if
anything needs to be adjusted to make them successful.
These are some of the reections on what I have learned over the past few years as a
library game designer. Creativity combined with good pedagogy can create amazing learning
experiences for your students. In time, I hope that the game design software will develop
so that anyone can create impressive online games without special technical knowledge. I
also hope that game designing librarians will form a tighter community in which we can
share ideas and further the discipline. I am heartened by the continuing interest in searching
for creative, memorable, and fun ways to teach our students the library skills that we are
so passionate about and are so important to their future as lifelong learners.

1. Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses (Boston: Morgan Kaufmann, 2008), xxx.
2. Andy Harris, Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2006).
3. Mary Broussard, Secret Agent in the Library, accessed April 7, 2013,
4. Mary Broussard, Goblin Threat, accessed April 8, 2013,
tutorials/plagiarismGame. aspx.
5. Richard Van Eck, Digital Game-Based Learning: Its not just the Digital Natives who Are Restless,
EDUCAUSE Review 41 (March-April 2006): 1630.
6. Guy J. Leach and Tammy S. Sugarman, Play to Win! Using Games in Library Instruction to Enhance
Student Learning, Research Strategies 20 (2005): 191203; Billie E. Walker, This is Jeopardy! An Exciting
Approach to Learning in Library Instruction, Reference Services Review 36 (2008): 381388.
7. James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2003).
A Bag of Tricks for Successful Library Games (Snyder Broussard) 215

8. Kurt Squire, Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age (New
York: Teachers College Press, 2011).
9. Valerie J. Shute, Stealth Assessment in Computer-Based Games to Support Learning, in Computer
Games and Instruction, eds. Sigmund Tobias and J. D. Fletcher (Charlotte, NC: IAP Information Age Pub-
lishing, 2011), 503524; Squire, Video Games and Learning.
10. Dennis Charsky, From Edutainment to Serious Games: A Change in the Use of Game Characteristics,
Games and Culture 5 (April 2010): 177198.
11. Ibid.
12. Charsky, From Edutainment to Serious Games.
13. Endogenous, accessed April 8, 2013,
14. Gregory Trefry, Big Fun, Big Learning: Transforming the World through Play (presentation, Gaming,
Learning and Libraries Symposium, Chicago, August 17, 2007), accessed April 5, 2013, http://www.alatech html.
15. Schell, The Art of Game Design.
16. Mary Broussard, The Lyco Map Game, accessed April 4, 2013,
17. Mary J. Snyder Broussard, Using Games to Make Formative Assessment Fun in an Academic Library,
Journal of Academic Librarianship (in press, 2013).
18. Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us.
19. Gregory Trefry, Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in all of Us (Boston: Morgan Kauf-
mann, 2010), 2629.
20. Scott Nicholson, Completing the Experience: Debrieng in Experiential Educational Games, in The
Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Society and Information Technologies (preprint) (Winter
Garden, FL: International Institute of Informatics and Systemics, 2012), accessed February 25, 2013,
21. Nicholson, Completing the Experience, n.p.
22. James S. Coleman, et al., The Hopkins Games Program: Conclusions from Seven Years of Research,
Educational Researcher 2 (August 1973): 37.
23. Nicholson, Completing the Experience.
24. Neal Baker, Paul Waelchli, and Kate Todd, The Pedagogy of Gaming, (presentation, The Association
of College and Research Libraries Conference, Philadelphia, PA, April, 2011).
25. Jessica R. Olin, Socializing with the Undead: Humans vs. Zombies and Learning in the Library
(presentation, The Library Orientation and Exchange (LOEX) Annual Conference, Columbus, OH, May 4,

Baker, Neal, Paul Waelchli, and Kate Todd. The Pedagogy of Gaming. Presentation at the Association of
College and Research Libraries Conference, Philadelphia, PA, April, 2011.
Broussard, Mary. Goblin Threat. Accessed April 8, 2013.
rials/plagiarismGame. aspx.
_____. Secret Agent in the Library. Accessed April 7, 2013.
_____. The Lyco Map Game. Accessed April 4, 2013.
Broussard, Mary J. Snyder. Using Games to Make Formative Assessment Fun in an Academic Library.
Journal of Academic Librarianship (in press, 2013).
Charsky, Dennis. From Edutainment to Serious Games: A Change in the Use of Game Characteristics.
Games and Culture 5 (April 2010): 177198.
Coleman, James S., et al. The Hopkins Games Program: Conclusions from Seven Years of Research. Edu-
cational Researcher 2 (August 1973): 37.
Endogenous. Accessed April 8, 2013.
Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmil-
lan, 2003.
Harris, Andy. Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2006.
Leach, Guy J., and Tammy S. Sugarman. Play to Win! Using Games in Library Instruction to Enhance
Student Learning. Research Strategies 20 (2005): 191203.
Nicholson, Scott. Completing the Experience: Debrieng in Experiential Educational Games. In The Pro-
ceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Society and Information Technologies (preprint). Winter Garden,
216 Games in Libraries

FL: International Institute of Informatics and Systemics, 2012. Accessed February 25, 2013. http://scottni
Olin, Jessica R. Socializing with the Undead: Humans vs. Zombies and Learning in the Library. Presentation
at the Library Orientation and Exchange (LOEX) Annual Conference, Columbus, OH, May 4, 2012.
Schell, Jesse. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann, 2008.
Shute, Valerie J. Stealth Assessment in Computer-Based Games to Support Learning. In Computer Games
and Instruction, edited by Sigmund Tobias and J. D. Fletcher, 503524. Charlotte, NC: IAP Information
Age Publishing, 2011.
Squire, Kurt. Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age. New York:
Teachers College Press, 2011.
Trefry, Gregory. Big Fun, Big Learning: Transforming the World through Play. Presentation at the Gaming,
Learning and Libraries Symposium, Chicago, August 17, 2007. Accessed April 5, 2013. http://www.alate
chsource. org/blog/2007/08/audio-of-greg-trefrys-keynote-from-glls2007.html.
Trefry, Gregory. Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in all of Us. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann,
Van Eck, Richard. Digital Game-Based Learning: Its Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless. EDU-
CAUSE Review 41 (March-April 2006): 1630.
Walker, Billie E. This is Jeopardy! An Exciting Approach to Learning in Library Instruction. Reference Services
Review 36 (2008): 381388.
Game Making Resources for Librarians,
AZ and Beyond: An Annotated

Although gaming in libraries is no longer such a radical notion, the potential uses of
gaming for libraries have progressed by crucial leaps and bounds in the past several years.
Increasingly libraries have become more than just places where mainstream games are played.
Libraries in both the academic and public spheres have begun to harness games as a platform
to enhance library goals and services. In recent years academic libraries have designed and
launched online games to teach student orientation, information literacy, and other research
skills. Public libraries have increasingly transformed their spaces into havens for the digital
user, connecting library users to gaming both through library programming and the social
networking tools citizens use on a daily basis. School librarians are increasingly pointing to
gaming which relates to curriculum goals and achievements.
This annotated bibliography and suggestions for further study is designed as a toolkit
to shed light on current issues facing librarians for integrating gaming into the profession,
and offers concrete tools for librarians to take action in utilizing gaming to achieve specic
goals. These resources convey best practices as they relate to gaming, insights in the game
design process to help any librarian jumpstart his or her own gaming initiative, and the
diverse learning impacts of gaming and game making.
Many of the resources described below have been engineered by librarians and infor-
mation professionals who have helped establish the acceptance of gaming as something with
educational and community value. In choosing these resources every effort was made to
offer a diverse mix with appeal to special, academic, public, and school library professionals.
What one library may view as a benet of gaming may not be the same for another library,
and this is reected in the variety of source material. Although no bibliography can be the
exhaustive end-all, be-all for any extensive topic, the result in creating these annotations
was to provide an array of essential sources for the library professional wanting to become
a more informed expert. When helpful, annotations will highlight if the source is particularly
relevant to a certain library audience.

Suggested Sources and Readings

Adcock, Amy. Making Digital Game-Based Learning Work: An Instructional Designers
Perspective. Library Media Connection 26, no. 5 (February 2008): 5657.

218 Games in Libraries

Adcock offers an excellent overview of digital game-based learning (DGBL) for instruc-
tional purposes. In addition to showing how to optimize DGBL environments, Adcock
provides a helpful list of recommended resources. Her concise work is a good introduction
on the topic, and useful for school librarians and even academic librarians looking for guid-

Bates, Matthew, David Brown, Jon Fletcher, and Sandra Price. Exploring University
Library Induction within an Undergraduate Serious Games Design Module: Proceedings of the
European Conference on Games Based Learning. University College Cork and Waterford Insti-
tute of Technology, Cork, Ireland, October 45, 2012. Nottingham, UK: Nottingham Trent
University, 2012.
Using nine student groups, authors from Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham,
UK elicited student participation to design gaming modules as a simple induction tool to
familiarize undergraduate students with the librarys resources. The authors provide a diverse
chart with all nine student groups (Groups A-I) and the game-based modules they designed.
The authors list the unique objectives and descriptions of each module before highlighting
two of the nine games.
The study shows how QR (quick response) codes were used to create an interactive
treasure hunt game where students could effectively use their mobile devices to learn about
the library. The second game they emphasize has a more traditional top-down approach
using a desktop role-playing game which recreates the librarys oor plan in a virtual envi-
ronment. Overall the article provides a wide array of ideas for how game-based modules
can be used to promote the library among students. More than that, the authors clearly
show that students are highly motivated to participate in these types of studies, which means
that the academic librarian can take a more user-centered approach in developing game-
based learning.

Bringing Games (and Gamers) to Your Library: 100 Tips and Resources. Open Edu-
cation Database. Last modied February 20, 2013.
A crucial step in designing games for library purposes is to understand what makes up
an effective gaming environment and best practices for jump-starting participation in gam-
ing. The Open Education Database, provided through an online education directory, offers
an effective, comprehensive list of tips and resources on how to foster gaming in the library
setting. The helpful organizational breakdown includes an emphasis on collections, websites,
blogs and gaming groups, gaming to support an educational curriculum, and research-ori-
ented gaming. This is a perfect resource for a librarian who does not want to start from
scratch, but instead draw from effective examples of gaming used in libraries and strategies
for getting games up and running with a sizeable participation base. The guide links to
helpful resources in libraries both public, school, and academic.

Broussard, Mary J. Snyder. Secret Agents in the Library: Integrating Virtual and Physical
Games in a Small Academic Library. College & Undergraduate Libraries 17, no. 1 ( January-
March 2010): 2030.
Broussard argues that academic librarians can and should tap into the learning potential
of games to engage students successfully. Children learn through the world frequently
through play, and Broussard shows that a large segment of modern society, college students
Game Making Resources for Librarians (J. Kirsch) 219

included, fall into the same category. Through a discussion of her librarys efforts after
designing a Macromedia Flash game called Secret Agents in the Library, Broussard reveals
how a simple game can enrich students experiences in a freshman composition course. The
author outlines how the games use of a ctional storyline and interactive components,
including drop-and-drag activities and dynamic feedback, morphed what could have been
a boring instructional tutorial into something fun and engaging. She offers instructive exam-
ples for how one can turn instructional material into a fun gaming activity. Library terms
for Secret Agents in the Library were transformed into secret code words which became
part of the storyline, making students see them as part of the game rather than extra work
to memorize. She analyzes the results of three separate classes who participated in the library
game, discussing some positive ndings in the data and also some of the challenges to
creating a successful instructional game.

Broussard, Mary Snyder. A Spoonful of Sugar: Instructional Games in Libraries (blog). Last
modied November 1, 2011.
introduction-to-digital. html.
This professional blog has an excellent list of suggested resources intended to be an
introduction to digital games-based learning. Broussard also provides helpful links to
instructional games created by librarians at institutions across the country, including her
own game, Goblin Threat, which has had success as a tool for teaching students about pla-
giarism. For the academic librarian interested in implementing games-based learning, many
of these games could be explored to offer game making insights. Several games of note
include LibraryCraft from Utah Valley University, BioActive from the University of Florida,
and the Information Literacy Game from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
The website serves well as an academic librarians dream instructional playground come
true, and a good resource to use for experimentation purposes in developing ones own
instructional gaming rubric.

Buchanan, Kym, and Angela Vanden Elzen. Beyond a Fad: Why Video Games Should
be Part of 21st Century Libraries. Education Libraries 35, no. 12 (summerwinter 2012):
It is hard for any librarian to be an effective game maker, let alone gaming advocate,
without a thorough understanding of the appeal which grounds the popular phenomena of
gaming. This article provides an effective analysis for the importance of gaming by classifying
three key areas that drive the gamers mindset: (1) immersion, (2) challenge, and (3) con-
nection. Although this articles focus is video games, the model which Buchanan and Vanden
Elzen propose is applicable to the whole gamut of gaming experience. More importantly,
their explanation of the three key areas for gaming impetus helps inform any librarians out-
look in crucial ways. It yields insights to assist the librarian to be both a better selector of
games and, at the more involved level, a better game maker.

Clyde, Jerremie, and Glenn Wilkinson. More Than a Game Teaching in the Gamic
Mode: Disciplinary Knowledge, Digital Literacy, and Collaboration. History Teacher 46,
no. 1 (November 2012): 4566.
Of particular benet for academic librarians, Clyde and Wilkinsons article discusses
what they describe as the gamic mode, an approach which uses games designed rst and
foremost to convey pedagogy rather than to merely entertain or engage. The History Game
220 Games in Libraries

is one such game which the authors devised and launched in a workshop format. The
authors show that games like The History Game can be an ideal tool for librarians and course
instructors to work collaboratively, enhancing course content and learning. The article has
implications for any academic librarian who would like to create their own game-based
learning to either enhance students experience with the library or connect the library to
various disciplines across the university setting.

Czarnecki, Kelly. Public Libraries by Design. School Library Journal 56, no. 11 (Novem-
ber 2010): 2325.
Czarneckis article on teen-friendly gaming spaces in libraries has an obvious emphasis
on the public library viewpoint, but is not necessarily limited to that scope. As some aca-
demic libraries consider leisure reading collections for students as part of their mission,
gaming-friendly spaces may seem a logical corollary to those efforts. Even school librarians
can learn from the ve library approaches Czarnecki describes. In making video games avail-
able to teens how should policies address the content of the games offered? How do you
congure a space for gaming without having a detrimental impact on users who are there
to use different services? These and other issues are touched upon in an engaging format
while Czarnecki explains the experiences of ve different libraries in establishing gaming-
friendly spaces in which their teen patrons could socialize and interact.

Dudley, Jennifer, and Priscilla Suarez. Finding Their Way: How Geocaching Is an Adven-
ture for All, Including Teens. Young Adult Library Services 10, no. 2 (winter 2012): 3234.
This unorthodox article delves into the programming potential of geocaching for
libraries, a game/sport which combines aspects of treasure hunting and hide-and-seek. In
a conversational, informal style, Suarez and Dudley show what geocaching involves, what
resources are needed from a librarys standpoint, and literary subject areas that would provide
a perfect tie-in for geocaching activities. Although geocaching may have limited appeal to
libraries without the requisite budget, the article offers a useful overview for any game-
savvy librarian who would like to cash in on a growing phenomenon, especially public
librarians interested in promoting activities for teens and tweens.

Farmer, Lesley S. J. Are Girls Game?: How School Libraries Can Provide Gender Equity
in E-Gaming. Knowledge Quest 40, no. 1 (SeptemberOctober 2011): 1417.
The subject of how gender impacts gaming, and the ramications for libraries, repre-
sents a troubling gap in the current library literature. Are Girls Game? by Lesley Farmer
makes some headway in assuaging that deciency, because of the gender preferences she dis-
cusses and the lingering gaming obstacles for girls are highlighted. The article analyzes the
rapidly evolving gaming demographic, of which girls, especially up through the teen age
cohort, comprise a growing part. Most of her suggestions for designing a game with girls
in mind are extremely broad; for instance, games which explore identity and provide a
sense of control and personal investment could characterize games which attract boys as
much as girls. But Farmers strength is in showing what has kept girls put off from gaming,
and by implication, what librarians need to avoid if they hope to attract a gender-diverse
audience to their gaming efforts. The avoidance of sexualized stereotypes, the need for
varied layers of difculty, and the importance of an in-game protagonist with whom girls
can self-identify are just a few of the useful suggestions which Farmer emphasizes. Overall,
this article is useful for public librarians as well as school librarians.
Game Making Resources for Librarians (J. Kirsch) 221

Fesko, Shari. The Great Scavenger Hunt. Voice Youth Advocates 33, no. 6 (2011): 540.
Feskos article is a must-read for librarians of all stripes, but especially public librarians.
She illustrates how YA author, Kay Cassidy, created a collaborative game spanning hundreds
of libraries in a successful effort to foster reading among kids and teens. The scavanger
hunt utilizes the empowering concept of user-created content where authors contribute
their own 10-question trivia challenges related to their books. Users who have read the
books can turn in their answers to their local participating library, and participants with
enough correct answers are automatically entered into a drawing where the winner receives
a $50 gift card to a local bookstore. The winners library receives a free selection of books
written by authors who have contributed their works as part of the Great Scavenger Hunt.
The article provides an interesting success story by showing how a game making effort with
just a simple concept and well-targeted collaborations can have a profound impact.

Forsyth, Ellen. From Assassins Creed 2 to The Five Greatest Warriors: Games and Reading.
APLIS 23, no. 3 (September 2010): 117128.
Forsyths article discusses how games should be tied to reading in a variety of ways.
The author examines the doorways of character, language, setting, and story, as pathways
for discerning a persons preferences beyond the gaming realm. Her examples are made more
authentic by personal commentaries from actual gamers, allowing Forsyth to show that a
gamers explanation for why he or she is attracted to a game like World of Warcraft naturally
sheds light on reading preference. The reader comes away from the authors analysis feeling
more condent about using knowledge of gaming as an overall tool for readers advisory.

Forsyth, Ellen. Learning Through Play: Games and Crowdsourcing for Adult Education.
APLIS 25, no. 4 (2012): 166173.
Learning Through Play succeeds at identifying effective gaming paths for public libraries,
school libraries, and even, to a signicant extent, academic or special libraries. The author
offers a treasure trove of ideas using instructive examples from the Ann Arbor District
Library, Central Arkansas Library System, Pierce County Library, New York Public Library,
University of Iowa, and the Bodleian Library, to name just a few. The articles format allows
for a nice ow of creative and inspirational ideas that should get the juices owing for any
librarian daunted by the prospect of creating a gaming program in his or her library. The
impressive scope of the article even wanders farther aeld to explore how museums are using
gaming and how game-based crowdsourcing ideas, especially in science-oriented online
games such as EteRNA and, have created real-world breakthroughs. and EteRNA have been used to study the makeup of proteins and RNA, and
authors point out that such games have an age-diverse appeal which librarians can leverage
to achieve success creating science-based programs. All of this is to say that the author
clearly shows how games, though they need to be fun in order to draw a signicant user
base, can be about much more than just fun. She outlines their potential to be just as
effective and productive in a learning context as any educational tool. Part inspiration, part
practical case overview, Learning Through Play is an outstanding article which should give
new ideas to any librarian, whether gamer or novice.

Gallaway, Beth. Game On! Gaming at the Library. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers,
Beth Gallaways book, Game On! Gaming at the Library focuses on how libraries can
222 Games in Libraries

leverage video games for underserved populations and valuable programming opportunities.
The most noticeable strength in Gallaways approach is that she speaks to all library types.
Her chapter on best practices for running gaming programs is particularly strong in showing
how special, academic, public, and school libraries all can benet from taking video games
more seriously as a teaching or entertainment tool. The books section on gaming-related
problems with library computers will resonate with many librarians who have to juggle
library policies and issues of fairness with the creative, innovative approach needed to make
gaming programs work.
The readers advisory commentary, connecting gamers to books, is also helpful. Some
of the concepts may seem obvious, such as connecting superhero game lovers to superhero
books or sports games lovers to sports books, but the emphasis on the many potential
literary connections is well warranted. Although the annotated bibliography is arguably too
broad in scope (even including books on child-rearing), and with sometimes only the
briefest of descriptions, librarians interested in gaming and game making can mine it for
excellent sources and further reading.

GameMaker: Studio Free. YoYo Games. Last accessed March 1, 2013. http://www.yoyoga
GameMaker Studio is a game design platform that combines ease-of-use with func-
tionality, allowing users to publish their games to mobile devices in addition to their home
computer. Originally developed by Mark Overmars of Utrecht University in the Nether-
lands, the project has since been joined by veterans of the gaming industry. Although the
free version does not offer the same bells and whistles of the more expensive versions, it is
a more than adequate introduction into game design for any librarian or the average library
patron. GameMakers community website allows users to upload and share games, a col-
laborative option which librarians could tap into while hosting a game design workshop or
running a long-term library program with an outreach component.

Gauquier, Erica, and Jessica Schneider. Minecraft Programs in the Library: If You Build
It, They Will Come. Young Adult Library Services 11, no. 2 (winter 2012): 1719.
The authors show how, by creating a social-friendly computer playing space in their
teen area and hosting a server to hold content for the virtual world, Darien Library became
a nexus point for Minecraft collaboration. The authors additionally show the minimal costs
needed to get ones library involved in Minecraft, and how they were able to use it as a teen
summer reading program with enthusiastic participation. There is perhaps an unspoken
insight throughout the article; as the authors describe how Minecrafts non-linear world
makes the gaming experience practically customized for the individual user, they reveal the
quintessential type of game which may thrive in the diverse library setting. Minecraft is a
game that appeals to both genders and all ages, and therefore the potential connections
within the library are limitless. Librarians interested in knowing what types of games will
succeed in fostering community would do well to view this article as a robust case study.

Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New
York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
James Paul Gees book about how video games relate to learning and literacy remains
a seminal work in the eld of gaming and education, and this updated edition enhances its
relevancy. Gee shows, using intimate examples and sound reasoning, the full potential of
Game Making Resources for Librarians (J. Kirsch) 223

games for teaching purposes. Though he focuses on video games, his theories are applicable
to any immersive game. The books value serves a twofold purpose for librarians because
of how Gee arranges the content. Librarians looking to create or use gaming for educational
purposes will glean a systematic understanding for what elements need to make up a suc-
cessful, learning-oriented game. Although the books educational emphasis will appeal fore-
most to academic and school librarians, it would be inaccurate to claim that the books
attraction is limited to just these groups. A large part of Gees book, speaking in a conver-
sational tone for a general audience, is a stirring, intelligent rationalization for the value of
gaming, which any public librarian can use with library board members, parents, and other
stakeholders concerned about the impact of gaming in the library. Gees book proves that
gaming teaches complex problem-solving skills. By reading this book the interested librarian
will discover how to tap into them.

Gershenfeld, Alan. Leveling Up From Player to Designer: Engaging and Empowering

Youth Through Making Video Games. Knowledge Quest 40, no. 1 (SeptemberOctober
2011): 5459.
This article is a true rarity in current library gaming literature because it analyzes
gaming in libraries from the perspective of a highly accomplished game designer and devel-
oper. With a background at Activision, one of the more successful gaming giants, Gershen-
feld presents a compelling argument for why libraries, especially school libraries, need to
be hosting game design workshops. He discusses his nonprot groups game design platform,
Gamestar Mechanic, and describes competitive game development contests which libraries
can use to spur game design programming. By connecting game design with learning and
STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), he highlights the relevance of gaming in
todays educational environment. Although Gershenfeld does highlight his own nonprot
organizations efforts through Gamestar, readers should also get a sense of the growing
plethora of nonprot game design platforms currently under development. This source need
not be the last word for the librarian looking for game design tools, but it is an excellent

Gullett, Matt, and Eli Neiburger. Out of the Basement: The Social Side of Gaming.
Young Adult Library Services 5, no. 2 (winter 2007): 3438.
Neiburger and Gullett convey the various social nuances to gaming and provide a good
justication for librarians wanting to do game making at their institution. Many librarians,
especially in public libraries, will encounter, almost inevitably, the patron or stakeholder
who wants an explanation for why gaming is a valuable activity that needs to be fostered
in a library. This article provides a thorough, effective rational to answer that very question
while giving the reader avenues for further exploration. The authors highlight how interactive
game making tools are more accessible than ever and do not require extensive knowledge
of programming language. They also offer three closer looks with examples of how libraries
have handled gaming, and how staff can benet from the new relationships that gaming
and game making create.

Harris, Christopher. AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Gaming Alignment.
American Association of School Librarians. Last accessed March 1, 2013. http://aasl.ala.
This document, prepared by Christopher Harris from the School Library System of
224 Games in Libraries

Genesee Valley BOCES, connects the gaming experience with the American Association
of School Libraries (AASL) standards for the 21st century learner. School librarians face
particular demands to justify their use of gaming to t curriculum needs. As a learning
document Harris paper breaks down the 4 major parts of the AASL learning standards
through its core components, including (1) inquiry and critical thinking, (2) drawing con-
clusions and creating new knowledge, (3) sharing knowledge and participating, and (4)
pursuing personal growth. In point-by-point format Harris paper shows how students
exhibit growth in all these areas through gaming, making it an ideal reference source for
school librarians.

Harviainen, J. Tuomas. Ritualistic Games, Boundary Control, and Information Uncer-

tainty. Simulation & Gaming 43, no. 4 (September 2012): 506527.
Ritualistic Games, Boundary Control, and Information Uncertainty attempts to analyze
the intricacies of the play experience. Its author, a chief librarian and game designer, shows
how gaming experiences across a wide spectrum, from simple arcade play to immersive
role-playing games, contain a common thread of experience through the impact of rituals
and imposing ctitious boundaries. The authors dense, academic approach may turn off
some readers, but his exhaustively-researched analysis points out patterns in the gaming
experience that will give most librarians the tools they need to create their own games. His
expertise with live-action role-playing (LARP) also offers a helpful analysis on a type of
gaming largely omitted from the current literature on libraries and gaming.

Kim, Bohyun. Harnessing the Power of Game Dynamics: Why, How to, and How Not
to Gamify the Library Experience. College & Research Libraries News 73, no. 8 (September
2012): 465469.
Bohyuns article is an excellent overview for the topic of gamication. Before focusing
on gamication as related to academic libraries, she illustrates the pervasive inuence of
gamication worldwide in a variety of forms, from Facebook to FoldIt. She argues effectively
for why librarians understanding of these gamication elements has become so crucial.
Bohyun points out that unlike the real world, games are more transparent about information
demands, allow more concrete methods for achieving goals, and provide guaranteed feedback
on the participants actions, the very traits that make gamication an ideal vehicle for learn-
ing. Her analysis focuses on dos and donts for gamication strategies, and her examples
provide good insights for any academic librarian looking for nuanced ways to embed learning
in the student experience.

Landgraf, Greg. Geek Out. American Libraries 43, no. 9 (September/October 2012):
Geek Out is an unusual case-by-case exploration for how library recipients of a $100,000
grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the John D. and Catherine
T. MacArthur Foundation created digital learning labs for teens. Digital learning labs offer
the tools and the environment which could allow patrons to become game making experts
in their own right. Although learning labs serve other diverse functions, any librarian inter-
ested in starting a game making lab or similar venture would nd instructive examples in
the networking partnerships, redesigned spaces, and multi-faceted library approaches
described throughout the article.
Game Making Resources for Librarians (J. Kirsch) 225

Levine, Jenny. Broadening the Audience for Gaming in Libraries. Library Technolog y
Reports 44, no. 3 (April 2008).
Jenny Levines article, Broadening the Audience for Gaming in Libraries, is another excel-
lent tool for librarians wanting to create games for their libraries. Through case studies and
statistics, Levine thoroughly debunks the idea of gaming as just for kids and reveals its
powerful impact on older age groups, from 20s and 30s up through seniors. Levines rationale
is instructive and humbling for any librarian wanting to take advantage of gaming because
it yields an effective blueprint on how marketing and deliberately selecting a target audience
should play a role in the librarians mindset. The articles relevance transcends any single
library type. For instance, an academic librarian who wants to create a game to teach library
orientation needs to be aware not just of his or her traditional students preferences, but
also the perspective of nontraditional students, whether students returning to school for a
second career or students with different cultural backgrounds and language skills. In a similar
way, the public librarian hoping to design games for programming purposes will nd in
Levines article a useful way to approach game design from an audience-oriented standpoint
instead of a top-down approach.

Lipschultz, Dale. The Librarians Guide to Gaming: An Online Toolkit for Building
Gaming @Your Library. American Library Association. Last accessed March 1, 2013. http://
Developed through the American Library Association, The Librarians Guide to Gaming
is an online toolkit for fostering gaming in the library. Its contributors represent a whos
who of inuential library and information professionals in the realm of gaming. The guides
annotated list of resources is vast if not exhaustive. Unlike most bibliographies on the subject,
it has distinct areas that include podcasts, blogs, conference presentations, gaming organi-
zations, and software in addition to more traditional recommended sources like websites,
books, articles, and periodicals. Separate sections on legal issues, marketing/publicity, sample
forms and handouts, facility and budgeting issues, and a gaming readiness checklist help
round out the guides comprehensive approach.

Mayer, Brian, and Christopher Harris. Libraries Got Game. Chicago: American Library
Association, 2010.
Mayer and Harris in Libraries Got Game have created a comprehensive guide designed
to show school librarians new ways to utilize board games for teaching purposes. Although
Libraries Got Game may not be the rst source to identify the learning potential of board
games, Mayer and Harris uniquely emphasize the curriculum learning applications inherent
in board games which connect to English and the language arts, social studies, mathematics,
and many other specialized areas within these disciplines. A thorough analysis of featured
games, some classic and some new, covering age groups from pre-K through high school,
offer a balanced array of options for the school librarian looking for ways to integrate gaming
into the librarys learning environment.

Mashriqi, Khalida. Implementing Technology and Gaming Lessons in a School Library.

Knowledge Quest 40, no. 1 (2011): 2428.
In her explanation of how to utilize games in a school library, Mashriqi has several
noteworthy lessons to impart to librarians on what exactly game making should involve.
The tendency in library literature over the past several years has been to focus on video
226 Games in Libraries

games and electronic gaming. Mashriqi illustrates to the contrary, however, that gaming
and even game making is often best done with a mixture of high-tech and low-tech solutions.
Her articles outlining of activities with young readers in her library show how not just any
technology, but technology with a hands-on component and even something as basic as an
interactive white board, can have the needed impact which encourages participation from
those the library serves. Librarians with a supervisor or co-worker overly obsessed with the
most expensive, cutting edge equipment may nd this article as a much-needed tonic. This
article is best suited for school and public librarians.

Methenitis, Mark. Law of the Game: Video Games, Gambling, and Other Legal Discussions:
Your Source for Video Game Law (blog). Last modied December 29, 2012. http://lawofthe
Though librarians increasing excitement over gaming is laudable, sometimes the legal
hurdles of using games are not adequately addressed. Enter Law of the Game, a website
and blog run by Mark Methenitis, an attorney in Dallas, Texas, with a keen interest in video
game law. Though the authors legal interests are not limited to video games, his focus on
the area is signicant, and his list of useful video game websites is an excellent whos who
of websites for the librarian wanting to get a handle on gaming trends and issues. The
author often links his commentary to helpful content on other websites.

Neiburger, Eli. Gamers in the Library?! The Why, What, and How of Video game Tour-
naments for All Ages. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.
This book tackles the subject of video game tournaments head-on. Gamers in the
Library?! gives any librarian an exhaustive array of tools to design, prepare, and run their
own gaming tournament. After a brief introduction which highlights the potential library
benets of hosting gaming events, the author gets into the thick of practical applications.
Chapters cover topics such as how to make the best decisions when choosing software, hard-
ware, or consoles, how best to promote gaming events, and the nitty-gritty of running a
tournament, setting up registration, deciding format (single elimination, qualifying rounds,
etc.). The books strength is that it dresses down the more daunting technical aspects for
librarians while also going into the logistical elements of what needs to happen for a tour-
nament to be successful.
Although many librarians may have programming experience, a gaming tournament
poses unique challenges, and thus most librarians will have something to learn by reading
Neiburgers book. The authors blunt, entertaining style makes the content more accessible
than other sources on the same topic. The chapters on Planning Your Events and Now
What? are particularly helpful in their level of depth. The planning checklist gives librarians
a good step-by-step guide, especially for rst-time tournament organizers. Perhaps the most
unique section in the book, in Chapter 8, is Neiburgers commentary, entitled Questions
You Should Ask Them, and When Its OK to Ignore the Answers. In this portion, Neiburger
focuses on how to get feedback (and how not to!) from your gamer clientele in a way that
is productive; knowing the right questions to ask can be crucial in whether the librarian
can integrate user feedback to plan and design a successful tournament or improve on the
existing program. This is a topic seldom addressed at this level of detail anywhere else in
the literature. For any librarian considering hosting a gaming event, Gamers in the
Library?! provides an excellent standard from which to start.
Game Making Resources for Librarians (J. Kirsch) 227

Nicholson, Scott. Because Play Matters (blog). Last modied January 28, 2013. http://bec
With its stated focus on transformative games and play for informal learning envi-
ronments, Scott Nicholsons gaming resource, Because Play Matters, serves as an effective
tool for librarians looking for approaches to designing their own games. Of special note is
Nicholsons extremely versatile game, Crossed Paths, a free, multi-player storytelling game
designed for 5 or more players which teaches participants to think creatively and coopera-
tively in an improvisational context. A close look at Nicholsons gaming overview, facilitation
guide, and worksheets offers librarians a rm foundation for the many facets involved in
creating a complete game for informal play. For some librarians taking a gaming idea from
a conceptual level to the concrete, rule-making or instructional level can be daunting;
Nicholsons approach helps demystify this process. This resource is especially useful for
public librarians constantly open to new ideas for Summer Reading and successful pro-

Nicholson, Scott. Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All
Ages. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2010.
Nicholsons book, Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for
All Ages, takes a much appreciated systematic approach to gaming in libraries which has
been largely absent in earlier library literature. While many articles focus on a particular
age group, often from grades K-12, Nicholson takes a holistic stance on the potential of
gaming. From the outset, Nicholson establishes a clear denition of gaming and rationale
for the connection between gaming and library service. Even his background on the history
of gaming in libraries provides a rewarding long-term perspective seldom found in library
literature. The thirteen chapters provide a happily exhaustive look at gaming through diverse
formats or types, emphasizing the different experiences that each offers for participants.
Many librarians will nd the third part of the book to be of greatest interest, as Nicholson
focuses on how to plan gaming experiences, tackle marketing, establish partnerships for
gaming, and perform rigorous assessment for justication. Nicholsons depth of experience
as an author who has written extensively in this eld quickly becomes evident.

Nicholson, Scott. Go Back to Start : Gathering Baseline Data About Gaming in

Libraries. Library Review 58, no. 3 (2009): 203214.
Nicholsons study on baseline data about gaming in libraries is a must-read for any
librarian who wants a thorough understanding of the impact of gaming. Nicholsons sta-
tistical data reveal patterns in how the type of library and the size of the library affect a
librarys support for gaming or different types of games. The statistics Nicholson provides
are at times impressive in scope, and especially effective at putting a nger on how gaming
changes the way our patrons interact with their libraries. A prime example of this includes
Nicholsons stats showing that nearly 80 percent of gaming participants in the library said
that this had improved their opinion of the librarys overall reputation, and a showing of
over 76 percent of participants who said that after attending a gaming event, they returned
to the library to use non-gaming services.
Although the statistics from Nicholsons study may be a few years old, the trends they
underlie remain every bit as relevant today. Nicholson also highlights an interesting tension
between the approach of librarians who justify gaming based on ideas of education and lit-
eracy versus librarians who advocate gaming more as a social and marketing tool to bring
228 Games in Libraries

in underserved patrons. These kinds of discussions, especially in Nicholsons section on

Goals and Outcomes, provide insight for librarians needing to contextualize their gaming
project within their librarys larger mission and objectives.

Romero, Juan Suarez. Library Programming with Lego Mindstorms, Scratch, and Pic-
oCricket: Analysis of Best Practices for Public Libraries. Computers in Libraries 30, no. 1
( January/February 2010): 1645.
This article focuses on how libraries that embrace programming technology can give
any patron from grades K-12 important technology literacy skills to last a lifetime. The
article discusses Lego Mindstorms, Scratch, and PicoCricket, all of which have program-
mable components. Lego Mindstorms is a good example because it gives kids the ability to
use a microcontroller to program a robot to complete tasks. Recommendations show how
to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of these types of technologies using a SWOT
analysis, and ways to tie in library-sponsored events promoting these technologies to the
librarys strategic plan. Librarians can read up on these technologies to get new ideas for
competitive events and patron-created projects using library space and resources to make
it happen.

Snow, Cason E. Playing with History: A Look at Video Games, World History and
Libraries. Community & Junior College Libraries 128, no. 2 (2010): 128135.
In this unusual approach from a community college librarians perspective, Snow shows
us that the nexus between games and what students unconsciously learn can be a murky
process. By discussing how a growing number of games based on Asian history have sprung
up in recent years, Snow illustrates that students are learning history from gaming, whether
educators like it or not. Through a series of descriptions focusing on strategy games, role-
playing games, and massive role-playing worlds, Snow shows how video games are increas-
ingly adapting historical content for entertainment purposes, mixing authentic historical
aspects with modern sensibilities. From a game making standpoint this article will be of
use to the librarian or educator concerned with that difcult balance when using a game
for instructional or educational purposes; how does one keep a game enjoyable while remain-
ing faithful to real learning? Although Cason demurs from giving hard and fast answers, his
article offers instructive examples for the potential of gaming to be a teaching tool for his-
torical purposes. Further research in this area could be revealing of student preferences, but
either way, academic librarians of all stripes would glean a better understanding of gamings
hold on popular knowledge and culture with a perusal of Casons discussion.

Sploder: Where Games Come True. Neurofuzzy Interactive Studios. Last accessed
March 1, 2013.
Probably one of the most user-friendly game creating tools on the Internet, Sploder is
a perfect way for the adventurous librarian to get his or her feet wet in game design. Devel-
oped by game design company Neurofuzzy Interactive Studio, Sploder allows a user to sign
up for free and immediately create their own games in a matter of minutes. The four game
design pathways available, which include classic shooter games, puzzle makers, gaming plat-
forms, and retro arcade games, give users exibility in deciding the games purpose. Sploders
game editors have a complexity which provides rewarding challenges for a variety of age
groups. The ability to freely publish user-created games online or garner participation
through email offer clear advantages for the entrepreneurial librarian who would like to
Game Making Resources for Librarians (J. Kirsch) 229

create a simple but effective game for learning and promotional purposes. Sploder is also
an excellent resource for any librarian interested in hosting a game making or basic game
design workshop.

Thompson, Samantha. On Being a Virtual World Librarian: Experiences in Offering

Live Reference Services in a Virtual World. Reference Librarian 50, no. 2 (April-June 2009):
Geared towards the reference librarian, whether academic or public, Thompsons article
offers interesting insights about the nexus between libraries and virtual worlds, where librar-
ians log in online and offer online reference service to a worldwide community. What has
this to do with gaming? Though virtual worlds and gaming are not synonymous, most
virtual worlds, Second Life included, have users who customize their experience towards
game-like goals or outcomes, and these make up a sizeable portion of the user population.
The article raises the larger question of how librarians should go about embedding themselves
in a larger, game-like world. More specically, the author describes how the virtual immersive
format has a positive impact on the reference interview, encouraging users to view librarians
as people rather than names in a chat box. This has several ramications for reference inter-
action, which the author discusses in more depth. The authors discussion also highlights
how librarian volunteers in virtual environments can use it as a risk-free environment for
practice and professional development.

Walton, Bill. Terra Libris: The Library RPG Project. Last modied December 28, 2011.
Terra Libris: The Library RPG Project is a guide for librarians on all things RPG-related.
The guide includes information on the history of the role-playing game (RPG) format with
suggested resources to help librarians run their own RPG events. Modeled off of the program
developed by Wizards of the Coast, called Afternoon Adventures with Dungeons & Dragons,
Terra Libris serves the role of an online toolkit for the RPG gaming subgenre. The site
includes a list of free RPG games with accompanying descriptions. Useful links to published
articles and blogs are also provided. This is also a useful resource to discover the less stereo-
typical side of RPGs. Readers can navigate the links to nd out about RPGs at the spectrum
opposite from Dungeons & Dragons, which have lighter, more open rules for the more casual
player. A few examples include Faerys Tale Deluxe, the Zorcerer of Zo, and the Princes
Kingdom. Many other RPGs promoted within the guide are indicative of the diversity of
RPGs, and show why they would appeal to children, teens, or adults in the library setting.

Ward-Crixell, Kit. Time Twistin the RPG. Texas State Library and Archives Commis-
sion. Last modied June 10, 2011.
Perhaps one of the most unique library gaming sources on the Internet, Time Twistin
the RPG, developed through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, offers an
educational RPG game which can be used for general programs or a more ambitious summer
reading event. The game, complete with backstory character sheet samples, a plot prem-
ise, and overarching game manual, offers participants a chance to pick a historical character,
real or imagined, and integrate that character into the fabric of a wider story along with
many other participants. As a game, Time Twistin the RPG offers virtually unlimited cus-
tomizable potential, making it useful for almost any library.
230 Games in Libraries

Participants have an opportunity not only to learn about the historical era of their own
character as they develop him or her, but also the historical periods of characters chosen by
the other participants. The game was designed to be versatile and requires only an Internet
connection to launch; teens could, for example, go to their librarys teen blog and post col-
laboratively to develop the RPGs plot and storyline. The Time Twistin resource page is
lled with supportive content. These include tips for moderators, suggestions for historical
titles librarians may want to use to enhance gameplay, and many other ideas for successful
preparation and implementation.
About the Contributors

Andrew Battista is an information literacy and reference librarian at the University of Mon-
tevallo, Alabama. He earned a Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Kentucky and has
taught classes on writing, literature, art history, and social media. His research interests include
the role of social media in information literacy instruction and multimodal learning.
Jason J. Battles is the associate dean of library technology planning and policy at the University
of Alabama Libraries. He has written and presented on library game making and directed the team
that built the University Libraries 2009 alternate reality game, Project Velius.
Emily Jack is the digital projects and outreach librarian in the North Carolina Collection
Gallery at UNCChapel Hills Wilson Special Collections Library. She holds an M.L.S. from
UNCChapel Hill and a B.S. in environmental studies from Oberlin College.
Andrew Kearns is coordinator of library instruction at the University of South Carolina
Upstate in Spartanburg. He has published articles about rst-year information literacy and outreach
to transfer students and has presented at the LOEX National Library Instruction Conference, the
Georgia Conference on Information Literacy, and the South Carolina Library Association Annual
Bohyun Kim is the digital access librarian at Florida International University Medical Library
in Miami. She has particular interests in library innovation and emerging technologies and blogs
at Library Hat.
Breanne A. Kirsch is a public services librarian at the University of South Carolina Upstate
in Spartanburg. She wrote How to Become an Essential Librarian for NMRT Endnotes and has
published articles on plagiarism prevention. She is the founder and chair of the Game Making
Interest Group within the ALAs Library and Information Technology Association. She received
an M.L.I.S. from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.
Jonathan Kirsch serves as the branch head for the Pacolet branch in the Spartanburg County
Public Libraries system in Spartanburg, SC. He has worked in both public and academic libraries,
serving in archives, circulation and reference. His interests include library programming, gaming
and learning, and generational issues in librarianship.
K.G. McAbee is a multi-published writer in fantasy, Steampunk, science ction, mystery and
horror. She is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.
Her books have won numerous awards, including Best YA Fantasy and rst prize in a Writers
Journal ction contest.
Jonathan McMichael is the undergraduate experience librarian at UNCs R. B. House Under-
graduate Library. He holds an M.L.I.S. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a
B.A. in education from the University of Kentucky.
Darlene McPeek is the graduate library assistant at the University of North Texas Media
Library. She is an MSc. candidate at the University of North Texas in the Library Information
Sciences program and received a Juris Doctor at the Albany Law School of Union University. Her
research interests include intellectual property issues in libraries and libraries as a third space.
Scott Nicholson is an associate professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse
University and is the director of the Because Play Matters game lab (

232 About the Contributors

His main research areas are meaningful gamication and the creation of transformative games for
informal learning environments. He is the author of Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great
Gaming Experiences for All Ages and the designer of the board game Tulipmania 1637.
Diane Robson is the president of ALAs GameRT and media cataloger at the University of
North Texas. She is in charge of game collection development and coordinates gaming events for
the library. Her research interests include cataloging and metadata management.
Cecilia Sirigos is a reference and instruction librarian at the Citadel in Charleston, SC, where
she serves as the liaison to the Business and Modern Language departments. Her interests include
gaming in academic libraries and lm archiving, exhibition and preservation.
Mary J. Snyder Broussard is an instructional services librarian at Lycoming College in
Williamsport, PA. She received an M.L.S. from Indiana University and has designed many library
games at Lycoming, as well as authored several articles and scholarly presentations on her game
Carli Spina is the emerging technologies and research librarian at the Harvard Law School
Library. Her interests include technology, computer programming and teaching on technology
Chris Vidas is the coordinator of electronic resources for the University of South Carolina
Upstate Library. He serves as liaison to the history and political science programs and to the School
of Business.
Heath Ward serves as a teen/tween assistant at the Spartanburg County Public Library System
and has worked with young adults for over 12 years. He received an M.L.I.S. from the University
of South Carolina. His interests include young adult programming, gaming and literacy, and
nding extraordinary means to engage communities and promote the librarys materials.

ability see skill Blackboard 6, 90, 171, 173178, data 10, 22, 44, 6568, 72, 80,
access 7, 10, 18, 23, 35, 46, 48, 52, 182, 184 84, 87, 100, 176, 178, 184, 198,
55, 100, 122, 125, 126, 173, 176, board game 5, 15, 16, 19, 43, 46 213, 219, 227
181, 211 48, 50, 52, 53, 55, 9296, 109, database 14, 15, 19, 23, 33, 87, 194,
accessibility 35, 52, 84, 122, 177, 116, 117, 121, 122, 133, 134, 138, 198, 199, 204, 206, 209, 218
223, 226 147, 153156, 165, 187, 225, 232 debrieng 7, 34, 204, 212, 213
accomplishment 5, 63, 82, 84, 87 Bond University of New Zealand defeat 96, 97, 99
achievement 63, 65, 66, 70, 72, 47 demographics 9, 10, 32, 44, 46,
80, 8285, 88, 146, 158, 213, bonus 74, 134, 137, 140, 143, 145, 92, 94, 101, 102, 105, 220
217 148, 181 design see game design
Actionscript 23, 39 boolean 23, 32, 209 designer see game designer
active 9, 1113, 23, 32, 37, 67, 73, boss 11, 19, 23 digital game 7, 19, 38, 40, 44, 46,
96, 97, 152, 157, 161, 173, 176, Broussard, Mary J. Snyder 4, 7, 47, 50, 54, 152, 164, 203, 205,
189, 193, 210 30, 179, 203, 218, 219, 232 208211, 217219; see also online
activities 4, 15, 19, 31, 32, 35, 37, budget 7, 11, 13, 38, 45, 67, 80, game
39, 51, 6274, 92, 94, 112, 118, 194, 220, 225 dimensions 95, 110, 111, 158
120, 143, 154, 157, 158, 160, 162, discovery 14, 64, 71, 137, 160
163, 173, 192, 198, 206, 209 card game 43, 46, 54, 96, 97, 103, display 53, 70, 72, 82, 111, 135,
213, 219, 220, 226 104, 121, 153 143, 190, 199
Adobe 19, 23, 35, 39, 84, 203 case study 5, 11, 13, 14, 17, 23, 66, dragon 44, 45, 100, 120, 229; see
advantages 5, 15, 40, 50, 62, 64, 83, 102, 222, 225 also monster
67, 70, 86, 93, 103, 105, 113, 115, character 6, 9, 11, 12, 16, 20, 21, dungeon 23, 44, 45, 113, 118, 120,
116, 119, 203, 205, 206, 225, 32, 33, 45, 69, 82, 84, 93, 96, 229
228 98, 100, 102, 103, 110113, 115, dynamics see game dynamics
adventure 44, 51, 95101, 109, 111, 117119, 132134, 136, 139, 142,
118, 160, 163, 187, 203205, 211, 145147, 189, 194, 196, 221, 229, educator 3, 6, 30, 62, 73, 74, 81,
220, 229 230; see also avatar 82, 84, 87, 114, 115, 153, 158,
alternate reality game 6, 17, 18, chess 43, 46, 92, 121 159, 161, 162, 164, 165, 192, 228
187200, 231 Clue 5, 6, 46, 125, 131136, 138, edutainment 152, 205
American Library Association 3, 4, 140149 effectiveness see game effectiveness
43, 48, 49, 225 clues 6, 17, 18, 37, 39, 138, 144, element see game element
animation 21, 23, 104, 177, 203, 176, 181, 188, 190, 194, 196, 199, email 37, 139, 140, 149, 174, 181,
204 206, 208, 209, 212 188, 228
appearance see costume collaboration 3, 6, 11, 14, 17, 115, emulator 53, 54
arcade 16, 54, 224, 228 163, 164, 171173, 177, 178, 184, engagement 4, 11, 14, 45, 48, 50,
articial intelligence 111, 188, 189 192, 199, 219, 221, 222 63, 67, 69, 72, 74, 84, 86, 143,
assessment 32, 49, 80, 8285, 87 collection see game collection 147, 155, 164, 165, 197, 199, 200
89, 131, 143, 160, 161, 204, 210 competencies 5, 81, 82, 86, 87 entertainment 6, 9, 10, 22, 30, 46,
212, 227 competition 35, 71, 72, 82, 88, 47, 85, 92, 9698, 101, 105, 120,
assignment 14, 15, 34, 38, 180, 117, 211, 214; see also tournament 146, 152, 189191, 193, 196, 205,
205, 211213 computer game 3, 20, 46, 121, 153, 222, 228
atmosphere 13, 104, 125, 129, 130, 158 environment 4, 6, 11, 12, 14, 16, 17,
132, 134, 135, 144, 146, 147 computer programming 21, 39, 19, 22, 31, 32, 3436, 40, 45,
audience see gamer 232 49, 55, 81, 83, 9294, 98, 100,
audio 14, 23, 35, 52, 182, 187, 189 console see game console 110113, 115, 120122, 125, 130,
authentic 206, 208, 221, 228 contest 16, 32, 48, 103, 199, 223, 131, 133, 136, 137, 146148, 152,
avatar 11, 12, 73; see also character 231 159162, 164, 172, 174, 176, 189,
context see game context 190, 193, 194, 206210, 212, 214,
background 11, 12, 20, 43, 120, costume 32, 49, 84, 103, 122, 129, 218, 223225, 227, 229, 232;
189, 191, 223, 227, 229 132, 139, 142, 146 see also learning environment
badge 5, 6365, 67, 68, 72, 75, creation see game making evaluation 15, 16, 19, 31, 33, 71,
78, 8088, 112, 114, 115, 148, 213 critical thinking 3, 20, 30, 80, 131, 159, 162, 181, 208
balance 34, 64, 74, 114, 137, 161, 210, 224 event 155, 188; gaming 4, 20, 44,
194, 205, 228 curation 48, 54, 55, 85, 86, 88 4851, 95, 103, 118, 190192,
Blackbeards Treasure 6, 171, 173 curriculum 52, 62, 74, 84, 87, 194, 196198, 226229; out-
175, 177184 154, 164, 217, 218, 224, 225 reach 32, 37, 40, 6769, 94, 99,

234 Index

104, 105, 131, 138141, 144, 146 paper game; roleplaying game; 46, 50, 68, 97, 109, 118, 121, 153,
149, 163, 172, 187, 206, 214 shooter game; video game 157, 163, 218, 229; teen 9, 46,
evidence 6, 30, 31, 80, 83, 84, 87, game-based learning 152155, 164, 50, 51, 94, 95, 97, 102105, 163,
143, 144, 155, 156, 158, 159, 189, 192, 203, 205, 210214, 217, 191, 220222, 224, 229, 230,
210, 212, 214 218, 220 232
exhibits 5, 50, 125, 131, 132, 135, game building 6, 193, 199, 200 Games and Gaming Round Table
138, 142, 144, 146148 game collection 48, 5255, 232 43, 45, 4852, 55, 232
expectations 83, 88, 126, 135, 138, game console 911, 18, 43, 46, 50, gamication 35, 6266, 68, 69,
141, 172, 184 53, 54, 66, 95, 99, 163, 226 71, 7376, 81, 84, 88, 146, 165,
experience see gaming experience; game context 4, 5, 1114, 23, 31, 192, 224, 232
learning experience 44, 63, 64, 69, 82, 85, 87, 88, gaming experience 3, 5, 17, 19, 32,
exploration 1114, 16, 19, 64, 160, 100, 111, 136, 138, 142, 143, 146, 33, 4850, 83, 9295, 100,
211, 223, 224 148, 161, 221, 227 102105, 116, 122, 143, 194, 199,
game creation see game making 219, 222, 224, 227, 232
Facebook 17, 37, 45, 72, 73, 85, game design 5, 7, 19, 3032, 35, gaming program 5, 43, 46, 49, 92,
130, 140, 150, 193, 194, 196, 197, 36, 3840, 50, 51, 63, 76, 116, 94, 95, 102, 103, 221, 222
224 132, 137, 138, 141, 145, 146, 148, gender 47, 121, 154, 160, 220, 222
factor 4, 5, 31, 73, 94, 113, 134, 162, 193, 194, 196198, 203, genre 5, 6, 12, 15, 21, 53, 55, 85,
135, 145, 158, 161, 172 205, 208, 211, 214, 222, 223, 93, 100, 110, 111, 113115, 119,
faculty 4, 6, 10, 1417, 19, 20, 33, 225, 228 120, 187191, 199
36, 54, 81, 83, 8588, 154, 162 game designer 4, 31, 33, 37, 39, George Washington University 19
164, 171173, 177, 183, 184, 196, 40, 64, 83, 95, 158, 162, 188, gift certicate 31, 36, 38, 86, 143,
214 189, 194, 197, 198, 203, 206, 211, 174, 183, 221
failure 4, 64, 81, 158, 211 214, 223, 224 goal see objective
family 10, 47, 95, 132, 156, 188 game dynamics 6, 153, 157, 158, Goblin Threat 36, 39, 176, 177,
fans 16, 48, 102, 103, 109, 111 162, 165, 224 204206, 211, 212, 219
fantasy 5, 35, 40, 45, 95, 100, 101, game effectiveness 30, 31, 80, 81, Google 84, 190, 191, 196, 200
109111, 113, 133, 138, 146, 147, 155, 156, 158161 Gotham 12, 96, 190, 209
203206, 208, 209, 212, 213, game element 36, 3035, 40, 45, grade 8082, 85, 87, 88, 160, 192,
231 55, 6267, 7072, 74, 75, 82, 211
feedback 10, 23, 6365, 71, 80, 84, 88, 100, 105, 110, 115, 116, grant 49, 69, 71, 82, 194, 199, 224
83, 113, 143, 157, 158, 175177, 122, 132, 137, 138, 140, 143, 145, graphic novel 49, 95, 99, 101, 103,
179, 180, 196, 211, 213, 219, 224; 148, 152, 153, 157, 158, 165, 179, 104
faculty 86; gamer 32, 68, 69, 180, 187, 188, 190192, 196, 198, graphics 22, 23, 39, 40, 158, 177,
73, 116, 138140, 199, 210, 226; 208, 211, 223, 224, 226 182, 183, 191, 203, 212
peer 40; student 6, 7, 81, 147, game experience see gaming expe- groups 17, 30, 35, 39, 47, 75, 102,
182184 rience 116, 121, 128, 130, 139, 147, 154,
festival 34, 207 game industry 9, 46, 47, 222 155, 162, 178, 193, 199, 204,
ction 5, 20, 93, 95, 99, 100, 110, game making 3, 4, 7, 9, 4851, 208, 209, 212, 213, 218, 223,
111, 113, 117, 231 53, 187, 199, 217, 219, 221226, 225, 228
ndings see results 228, 229, 231 growth 9, 43, 47, 63, 118, 125, 192,
Firefox see Mozilla Firefox game night 4, 32, 95, 132 224
rst-year see freshmen game outcome 20, 39, 63, 64, 66, guidance 51, 52, 54, 55, 138, 160
Flash 19, 23, 35, 38, 39, 177, 203, 113, 117, 132, 134, 142, 145, 146, 162, 177, 212, 218
219 148, 158, 160, 228, 229 guidelines 13, 52, 55, 71, 117
ow 64, 65, 128, 142, 143, 145, game plan 49, 51, 53, 55, 71, 84, gun 94, 102, 110, 204; see also
148, 157 132, 134, 138, 139, 141, 147, 212, shooter game
food 32, 40, 97, 139, 163, 192, 226228
208, 212 game player see gamer handheld 11, 18, 47, 103
football 40, 210 game points 17, 23, 37, 39, 6266, hardware 9, 47, 54, 226
format 6, 10, 17, 33, 44, 4648, 6872, 75, 84, 97, 112, 120, 137, Harry Potter 7, 32, 33, 98, 99, 117,
5254, 94, 95, 100, 103, 105, 143, 156, 182, 199, 209, 211 129, 214
137, 153, 154, 158, 174, 175, 178, game programming 4, 22, 23, 38, healthcare 6, 152156, 158, 159,
183, 184, 194, 196, 220, 221, 39, 43, 48, 203 161, 162, 164
224, 226, 227, 229 game show 51, 73, 155, 156 Heinlein, Robert A. 5, 110, 111
freshmen 14, 32, 34, 35, 39, 40, game tournament see tournament hero 96, 97, 99, 101, 122
126, 130, 149, 171, 173, 174, 192, gameplay 5, 7, 13, 18, 19, 34, 43, hint 63, 195, 211
194, 197, 199, 203206, 209, 47, 52, 53, 65, 68, 70, 95, 104, history 4, 6, 7, 38, 54, 96, 100,
210, 219; see also student; trans- 116, 132, 134, 137141, 143, 145 117, 125, 136, 143, 176, 178, 187,
fer student 148, 158, 160, 192, 210, 230 192, 196, 199, 209, 220, 227
friends 10, 47, 93, 97, 99, 105, 130, gamer 3, 4, 6, 7, 1013, 1523, 229, 231, 232
131, 137, 146, 149, 188 3040, 4345, 4749, 55, 61, Horizon Report 3, 62, 153, 192
frustration 39, 157 6475, 84, 86, 9293, 96, 112 horror 5, 95, 100, 231
funding 15, 17, 139, 165, 194 117, 119120, 122, 132149, 154 host 32, 43, 44, 51, 67, 84, 98,
156, 158159, 162, 164165, 104, 138, 147, 193, 194, 200
game see alternate reality game; 178180, 182184, 187190, 192 HTML 23, 177
board game; card game; com- 199, 200, 204206, 208212, humor 98, 205, 209
puter game; digital game; library 214, 217, 225228; adult 46, 94, hunt 4, 1618, 32, 38, 145, 178,
game; mini game; online game; 95, 97, 102, 104, 221, 229; child 190, 199, 209, 211, 218, 221
Index 235

identity 45, 87, 149, 220 105, 112, 115, 118, 135, 155, 176, Lord of the Rings 95, 96, 99, 101
images 21, 69, 84, 125, 143, 177, 180182 losing see defeat
178, 182 LibGuide 18, 181, 198 Lyco 31, 38, 206, 209
imagination 44, 100, 115, 121, 165 librarian 47, 9, 1113, 19, 31, 35 Lycoming College 7, 19, 23, 32,
implementation 31, 63, 131, 161, 40, 43, 4853, 55, 66, 68, 71, 33, 35, 176, 204, 206, 214, 232
162, 187, 213, 230 81, 8386, 88, 89, 92, 94, 97,
incentive 80, 88, 114, 174, 183, 197, 98, 100, 103106, 109, 119, 120, mage see wizard
199 122, 126, 164165, 172, 175177, magic 18, 110, 113, 119, 199
individual see single player 183, 193, 194, 196, 198, 200, manga 103, 104, 117
industry see game industry 203206, 208, 209, 211214, manual 12, 13, 19, 20, 163
information literacy 36, 9, 10, 12, 221222, 227, 229232; aca- maps 18, 33, 125, 141, 198, 204,
13, 15, 16, 18, 23, 30, 31, 35, 36, demic 3, 10, 1417, 54, 80, 162, 209
45, 52, 80, 81, 8388, 164, 171 163, 171, 173, 218220, 224, Mario 3, 9, 50, 93
177, 180, 181, 187, 193, 197, 199, 225, 228; public 67, 220, 223, marketing 4, 48, 67, 69, 73, 89,
213, 217, 219, 231 225, 226; school 45, 73, 217, 139, 140, 147, 149, 184, 187, 189,
inspiration 34, 39, 44, 63, 92, 221 218, 220, 223225 190, 193, 195199, 225, 227
instruction 37, 9, 12, 1416, 19, librarianship 48, 231 marvel 94, 97, 99, 136
20, 22, 23, 3032, 34, 3638, Library and Information Technol- mascot 16, 18, 137, 180, 208
40, 73, 80, 81, 8386, 88, 141, ogy Association 3, 49, 51 massively multiplayer online role-
152, 153, 160162, 164, 165, 173, library game 3, 4, 7, 3032, 34, playing game see MMORG
177, 187, 192, 193, 196199, 206, 35, 3739, 43, 48, 52, 92, 120, mastery 112, 210
208, 210, 211, 214 164, 187, 193, 194, 199, 203, 205, matching 39, 119, 174, 176, 178,
instructions see rule 206, 210, 211, 213, 214, 223, 183, 211, 212
interaction 4, 10, 11, 18, 21, 45, 67 229, 231 McGonigal, Jane 64, 65, 73, 143,
69, 71, 82, 87, 93, 94, 112, 115, library instruction 5, 7, 12, 15, 20, 146, 191, 192
116, 122, 131133, 137, 138, 147, 30, 36, 37, 81, 8385, 164, 165, mechanic see game element
154, 188, 189, 192, 194196, 208, 173, 177, 231 medicine 6, 152156, 158, 159,
229 library orientation see orientation 161165
interdisciplinary 38, 82, 86 library outreach see outreach Mega Run 13
interface 50, 70, 71, 178 library professional 5, 92, 93, 217 men see gender
intrinsic 31, 37, 64, 65, 74, 82, 115 library program 51, 84, 95, 98, message 10, 18, 68, 139, 140, 187
introduction 14, 15, 17, 34, 62, 100, 102, 104, 222 189, 191, 192, 196, 209, 211, 212
138, 174, 176, 178, 179, 182, 212, library programming 163, 217, metadata 49, 55, 86, 232
213, 218, 219, 222, 226 228, 231 metaplot 118, 119
issues 14, 31, 35, 48, 5255, 66, library research 164, 203205, 211 method 5, 6, 10, 12, 31, 34, 36, 40,
75, 100, 131, 158, 171173, 175, library resources 15, 17, 32, 33, 35, 64, 68, 82, 83, 88, 92, 105, 116,
177, 183, 191193, 198, 217, 220, 40, 193, 194, 196, 198, 199, 203, 152, 154160, 164, 173, 188, 196,
222, 225, 226 204, 209 213, 224
iteration see version library services 50, 120, 187, 197, military 18, 118, 152
199, 224 millennial (generation) 4, 911, 14,
Java 21, 22 library session 11, 16, 34, 36, 173 23
Jeopardy 16, 36, 103, 154, 203, library setting 4, 44, 163, 222, 229 mini game 16, 17, 118, 121
205, 214 library staff 38, 67, 68, 71, 93, 95, misconception 10, 120, 121
justication 116, 223, 227 122, 132, 163, 206, 209, 212 mission 4, 12, 13, 19, 43, 48, 53,
library system 51, 103, 221, 223, 64, 69, 70, 99, 164, 172, 191,
Kapp, Karl M. 63, 64, 81, 84 232 197, 198, 209, 220, 228
library types 193, 222 MMORG 3, 12, 19, 20
LARP 93, 103, 224 librarycraft 219 mobile app 190
launch 196, 230 LibraryGame 7174 mobile device 9, 62, 177, 218, 222;
leaderboard 63, 64, 67, 7073, Libriomancer 5, 110112, 119 see also phone; tablet
75, 84 license 16, 39, 53, 54, 126, 131, 197 model 5, 21, 43, 45, 50, 67, 74,
leadership 48, 74, 82, 139 live-action roleplaying see LARP 75, 8082, 85, 86, 89, 114116,
learner 3, 10, 37, 45, 64, 82, 88, lives (number of ) 11, 18, 21, 45, 174, 176, 177, 212, 219
140, 152, 157, 158, 161, 211, 212, 53, 54, 64, 98, 113, 122, 126, module 16, 67, 88, 156, 218
214, 223, 224 149, 157, 159, 188, 205, 229 money 4, 38, 69, 74, 104, 214
learning: environment 14, 160, limitations 11, 94, 110, 148, 194, Monopoly 3, 46, 48, 109
208, 212, 225, 227, 232; experi- 196 monster 13, 23, 95, 98, 100, 118;
ence 9, 39, 86, 161, 175, 176, linear 7, 39, 44, 210 see also dragon; vampire; zombie
205, 206, 208, 213; method link 70, 81, 93, 99, 100, 109, 149, Moodle 84
154156, 160; outcomes 6, 30, 180, 181, 190, 211, 218, 219, 226, motivation 12, 30, 31, 36, 37, 62,
8184, 86, 87, 152, 155157, 159, 229 64, 65, 73, 74, 82, 88, 135, 137,
161, 164; process 12, 45, 85, 157, literacy 5, 81, 82, 84, 85, 87 145, 148, 159, 160, 192, 206, 210
161, 162 literature-based gaming 5, 9295, movie 6, 21, 32, 47, 96, 97, 102,
lecture 10, 13, 40, 125, 154156, 98, 100, 102104 103, 109, 129, 147, 187, 188, 190,
160, 213 live action 6, 93, 103, 197, 198 193, 204
Lego 12, 98, 99, 228 LiveBinder 74 Mozilla Firefox 82, 84, 85
leisure 52, 120, 121, 192, 208, 220 location see environment multimedia 10, 23, 82, 96, 153,
Lemontree 7174 logistics 84, 138, 139 154
level 4, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 64, 73, 74, long-term 114, 155, 222, 227 multi-player 115, 164, 227
236 Index

multiple choice 39, 83, 174, 176, 154, 155, 160, 172, 174, 175, 182, promotion 7, 48, 68, 138, 139, 153,
178, 203, 211, 212 184, 198, 227 162164, 229
Multiverse 5, 109, 112115, 117 perception 6, 129, 130, 140, 144, protagonist 19, 98, 105, 220
120, 122 146, 149, 154, 179, 200 prototype 71, 116
mystery 1618, 21, 32, 95, 98, 110, performance 21, 23, 135, 139, 143, public library 35, 32, 43, 46, 66,
113, 115, 118, 132, 134136, 138, 159162, 178, 181, 183, 210 69, 71, 72, 92, 104, 120, 121, 162,
141, 145, 147, 187190, 196, 199, perspective 1113, 20, 65, 111, 131, 163, 193, 199, 217, 220, 221, 223,
205, 206, 231 143, 147, 161, 191, 194, 199, 208, 228, 231, 232
217, 223, 225, 227, 228 publicity 36, 225
narrative 12, 13, 84, 88, 93, 94, phase 19, 74, 84, 132 purpose 3, 4, 31, 32, 38, 39, 44,
101, 102, 138, 147, 160, 196 phone 911, 23, 34, 35, 46, 97, 9294, 102105, 116, 118, 133,
Neiburger, Eli 68, 69, 97, 223, 130, 139, 188190, 192, 209211; 139, 152, 153, 155, 158, 159, 163,
226 see also mobile device; tablet 164, 184, 187, 189, 193, 194, 205,
network 74, 82, 84, 85 photos 134, 136, 139141, 143, 145, 212, 218, 219, 223, 225, 228,
newbie 4, 13, 15, 114, 115 149 229
Nicholson, Scott 4, 43, 46, 49, Photoshop 84, 177 puzzle 6, 16, 18, 20, 21, 36, 45, 98,
64, 92, 93, 102, 112, 116, 212, Picasa 84, 210 105, 112, 121, 131, 160, 189192,
213, 227, 228, 231 pirate 176, 178, 209 194, 197, 199, 212, 228
Nintendo 9, 12, 99, 103 plagiarism 36, 40, 173, 176, 204,
206, 208, 219, 231 quality 12, 15, 22, 40, 45, 53, 65,
object 17, 2022, 110, 112, 179, plague 19, 110 70, 84, 85, 95, 98, 100, 147, 156,
182, 209, 211 plan see game plan 158, 164, 179, 211, 212
objective 43, 48, 49, 5255, 141, platform 10, 17, 19, 21, 23, 46, 54, Quarantined 19
143, 144, 155, 187, 190, 228, 229; 71, 72, 8286, 95, 98, 99, 177, quest 16, 17, 19, 23, 44, 62, 69, 97,
educational 6, 31, 69, 152, 162, 191, 217, 222, 223, 228; see also 99, 114, 115, 199
171, 180; game 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, format question 7, 14, 16, 20, 31, 3436,
18, 37, 50, 51, 63, 65, 66, 68, player see gamer 39, 4446, 49, 51, 53, 54, 63,
69, 71, 73, 75, 76, 92, 99, 102, plot 20, 114, 189, 196, 229, 230 67, 71, 87, 92, 94, 112, 113, 116,
112115, 119, 131, 132, 134, 138, points, badges, and leaderboards 122, 129, 130, 134136, 139, 141,
139, 145149, 157, 165, 178, 179, (PBLs) 63, 65, 66; see also game 143145, 147149, 152, 160, 161,
183, 191, 194, 217, 224; learning points 172176, 178184, 193, 203,
3234, 38, 72, 8486, 136, 159, pointsication 65, 73 204, 208, 211214, 221, 223,
160, 198, 204, 206, 208, 213, 218 policy 52, 55, 66, 68, 172, 220, 226, 229
observation 6, 45, 132, 136, 144, 222, 231 quiz 14, 153
145, 148, 149, 154 politics 101, 125
obstacle 12, 13, 18, 22, 32, 51, 65, portfolio 8486 race 36, 137
88, 120, 139, 220 postcards 143, 174 Rameses 137, 140, 143
online game 3, 6, 19, 21, 35, 36, poster 36, 50, 116, 125, 143, 144, randomization 154156
38, 39, 171, 204, 210, 214, 217; 188, 195, 196, 210 real-world 129, 152, 189, 192, 211,
see also digital game power 5, 40, 96, 100, 110, 111, 119, 221
Open Badges 82, 84; see also badge 120, 158, 160, 164 recreational see leisure
orientation 4, 7, 9, 1116, 18, 32, practice 3, 7, 10, 11, 14, 16, 22, 40, reection 148, 203, 212, 213
34, 35, 3840, 137, 138, 164, 4346, 52, 55, 70, 84, 87, 115, registration 139, 140, 148, 149, 171,
172174, 184, 199, 205, 206, 138, 153, 154, 156, 161, 179, 180, 190, 198, 226
207, 209, 210, 212, 214, 217, 225 210, 217, 218, 222, 228, 229 relationship, human 36, 81, 83,
outcome see game outcome; learn- preparation 13, 15, 36, 161, 230 86, 88, 112, 149, 173, 223
ing outcome preservation 48, 54, 55, 125, 232 relevance 3, 1315, 85, 200, 223,
outreach 4, 6, 30, 32, 34, 36, 37, principles 85, 87, 92; game 81, 88, 225
4850, 72, 105, 162164, 171, 140, 188; gamication 5, 71, 74; Renaissance 112, 117
172, 178, 192, 214, 222, 231 learning 45, 81, 84, 137; pro- replayability 193, 197
gramming 22 reputation 5, 6, 36, 125, 128, 227
panel 21, 159, 190, 213 prize see reward requirement 39, 64, 66, 67, 75,
paper game 15, 16, 19, 44, 68 problem 3, 5, 10, 14, 18, 21, 44, 200
parents 10, 46, 81, 131, 223 45, 48, 55, 63, 6568, 80, 84, rescue 119, 122
participant see gamer 87, 88, 97, 100, 113116, 119, 122, research process 13, 33, 174, 176,
participation 5, 37, 67, 73, 81, 82, 131, 132, 147, 160, 171, 182, 183, 185, 214
85, 86, 88, 112, 174, 178, 182, 191, 192, 196, 198, 212, 222 research skills 11, 14, 16, 81, 84,
184, 198, 218, 222, 226, 228 production 21, 45, 68 173, 179, 182, 205
participation rate 174, 175, 182, professor 4, 10, 37, 38, 8082, 86, resource 4, 6, 7, 1320, 3035,
184 112, 131, 143, 176, 192, 196, 231 3840, 45, 46, 48, 51, 52, 55,
partnership 9, 17, 18, 138, 140, program 5, 11, 1921, 32, 43, 46, 70, 74, 96, 131, 148, 160, 162,
224, 227 4951, 55, 62, 6669, 72, 75, 81, 163, 173, 178, 182, 184, 187, 193,
pathway 113, 190, 221, 227, 228 82, 84, 8688, 9295, 98, 100, 194, 196199, 203206, 209,
patron see gamer 102105, 112, 121, 125, 154156, 211, 214, 217221, 223, 225,
pattern 35, 36, 8183, 117, 160, 163, 164, 172174, 177, 194, 199, 227230, 232
205, 224, 227 211, 221, 222, 226, 228, 229, 231, respondent 129, 130, 140, 144, 154,
pedagogy 81, 82, 84, 88, 205, 210, 232; see also game programming 182, 196
214, 219 Project Velius 31, 32, 38, 194198, responses 36, 129, 130, 143, 144,
percent 44, 46, 47, 73, 80, 121, 231 147, 154, 160, 161, 182, 183, 211
Index 237

responsibility 74, 194 Sjin 3 survey 46, 47, 81, 88, 140, 143,
restriction 35, 67, 134, 179, 188 skill 72, 94, 96, 99, 100, 110, 115, 144, 147, 153155, 160, 161, 172,
results 15, 17, 18, 40, 47, 65, 120, 152, 153, 156, 198, 214, 223, 182184, 196
133, 135, 145, 147, 149, 152155, 225, 228; game making 40, 51, suspense 98, 113115
157160, 162, 172, 182, 183, 194, 105; gamer 11, 33, 39, 44, 45, sword 45, 113, 120
208, 213, 219 82, 93, 102, 112, 113, 117121,
retention 11, 14, 155, 156 132, 136, 143, 157, 159161, 182 tablet 9, 23, 34, 35, 136
reviews 52, 69, 72, 155 184, 205, 210212; programming tabletop 46, 50, 51, 54, 55, 100
revision 68, 71, 88, 183 19, 21, 34, 38, 39, 68, 194, 204, tag 68, 69, 191, 197
reward 17, 18, 31, 51, 6265, 68, 211; see also research skills tale 96, 117, 122, 229
71, 73, 74, 83, 84, 86, 100, 102, smartphone see phone talent 13, 17, 40, 82, 118, 119
105, 114, 115, 134, 137, 139, 143, social media 6, 9, 17, 38, 45, 72, target 66, 105, 162164, 193, 225
145, 148, 158, 184, 197, 206, 209, 74, 75, 8587, 191194, 231 task 7, 11, 19, 20, 64, 65, 69, 70,
231 software 9, 10, 1921, 23, 35, 39, 85, 95, 118, 119, 132, 136, 137,
riddle 176, 181 46, 47, 54, 67, 84, 129, 178, 183, 142, 143, 145, 148, 157159, 165,
rights 53, 54, 65, 192 214, 225, 226 176, 178, 180, 189, 196199, 210,
risk 34, 45, 65, 81, 100, 116, 158, solution 12, 14, 35, 40, 67, 75, 81, 211, 228
211 88, 104, 105, 187, 191, 193, 197, teaching 6, 11, 12, 15, 21, 23, 30,
role 12, 45, 49, 93, 98, 101, 112, 198, 212, 226 40, 52, 69, 72, 80, 81, 83, 86
117, 194, 196 song 46, 96, 101, 204 88, 152, 156, 157, 161, 162, 172,
role-playing 94, 95, 100, 101, 109, Sorry 3 183, 187, 196, 212, 219, 222, 223,
117, 118, 121, 153, 190, 218, 224, sound 95, 125, 130, 147, 182, 211 225, 228, 232
228, 229 Spartanburg 104, 172, 231, 232 team 1416, 18, 35, 38, 40, 68, 69,
role-playing game 95, 100, 109, speed 35, 100, 137, 140, 160, 177 71, 95, 99, 113, 132148, 159,
117, 229, 230 spell see magic 175, 177, 188, 191, 192, 196, 197,
rookie 19, 100, 204, 206 spies 100, 209 204, 208, 210, 231
rubric 83, 87, 219 sports 3, 21, 47, 192, 222 techniques 9, 11, 13, 14, 18, 63, 177
rule 18, 20, 22, 23, 34, 50, 51, 67, Squire, Kurt 30, 114, 115, 205 technology 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 22, 23,
70, 71, 75, 100, 109, 116118, stage 11, 13, 22, 23, 31, 32, 40, 50, 34, 35, 39, 4446, 5052, 55,
132, 134, 138, 139, 142, 152, 157, 65, 73, 75, 92, 94, 112116, 118, 62, 74, 81, 85, 89, 112, 154, 183,
164, 180, 182, 187, 204, 209, 212, 119, 139, 158, 172, 180, 181, 184, 187, 192194, 200, 203, 223,
213, 229 195, 218 226, 228, 231, 232
stakeholder 51, 223 teen 9, 46, 50, 51, 94, 95, 97,
sample 23, 46, 109, 129, 133, 144, starship 101, 110, 119 102105, 163, 191, 220222,
147, 199, 208, 225, 229 statistics 9, 36, 47, 72, 102, 117, 224, 229, 230, 232
satisfaction 154, 156 150, 196, 225, 227 television 6, 21, 23, 47, 109, 179,
scavenger hunt 4, 16, 17, 145, 190, status in game 112, 114, 143, 204 190
199, 209, 221 stimulation 10, 44, 92, 94, 138, 152 template 36, 119
scenario 11, 13, 14, 110, 112, 118, storage 23, 50, 54 tension 98, 227
129, 160, 176, 197 story 6, 1215, 1820, 32, 35, 40, terminology 10, 209
school librarians 73, 217, 218, 220, 63, 92, 93, 98100, 102, 103, test 6, 36, 38, 40, 51, 55, 138140,
223225 105, 109, 111114, 117119, 121, 145, 147, 148, 155, 161, 171, 173,
school library 45, 52, 53, 112, 162, 122, 125, 149, 158, 163, 171, 176, 175, 205, 206, 210, 211
163, 199, 217, 220225 188199, 203, 204, 206, 212, text 14, 18, 2022, 33, 51, 55, 68,
science ction 5, 110, 111, 113, 117, 219, 221, 229, 230 70, 97, 109, 135, 187, 192
231 storyboard 19, 177 theft 12, 18
score 45, 64, 66, 71, 97, 112, 139, strategy 4, 6, 1113, 15, 16, 81, 83, theme 9, 46, 70, 85, 92, 130, 131,
143, 148, 152, 155, 156, 159, 175, 93, 94, 102104, 114, 134, 152, 144, 160, 171, 176, 178, 204, 208,
176, 178, 179, 181183, 199, 204, 153, 155158, 160162, 164, 210, 209, 214
209, 210 218, 224, 228 theory 55, 81, 131, 223
Scrabble 44, 93, 121 strength 11, 117, 118, 132, 145, 161, therapy 131, 147
screen 35, 47, 103, 178, 179, 181, 162, 189, 220, 222, 226 time 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 30
182 stress 16, 40, 93, 178, 184, 211 32, 3436, 3840, 44, 4649,
Secret Agents in the Library 19, 23, student 37, 920, 22, 23, 3040, 53, 63, 64, 6668, 71, 73, 76,
33, 35, 39, 204206, 208, 211, 45, 46, 52, 54, 62, 65, 69, 71 80, 81, 84, 87, 88, 92, 95, 97,
213, 218, 219 73, 8088, 104, 105, 115, 121, 102, 103, 105, 109114, 116, 117,
setting 4, 5, 11, 14, 15, 44, 46, 63, 125, 128132, 134, 136141, 143 120122, 125, 129132, 134, 137,
73, 84, 88, 100102, 109111, 150, 152165, 171184, 191194, 139143, 145148, 155, 157159,
116, 117, 142, 152, 156, 161, 163, 196199, 203206, 208214, 161163, 171177, 179, 188, 189,
178, 180, 188, 197, 206, 218, 217220, 224, 225, 228, 231; see 192, 194, 197, 198, 204206,
220222, 229 also freshmen; transfer student 208, 211214, 227, 229, 230
shelter 97, 103 style 11, 16, 63, 81, 98, 104, 115, tips 22, 62, 203, 218, 230
shooter game 12, 110, 228; see also 117, 125, 128, 134, 154, 160, 191, title 36, 53, 94, 95, 98, 104, 114,
gun 211, 220, 226 118, 178, 194, 204, 211, 230
simulation 11, 14, 152154, 161, success 4, 7, 12, 31, 43, 45, 4951, together 15, 35, 36, 43, 44, 4951,
205, 206 63, 64, 67, 69, 73, 102, 114, 115, 67, 94, 97, 99, 110, 111, 118, 121,
single player 12, 23, 37, 39, 52, 145147, 158, 161, 163, 165, 173, 125, 131, 137, 139, 148, 161, 190
64, 73, 8284, 86, 87, 139, 160, 175, 178, 183, 184, 192, 193, 198, token 69, 87, 209
205, 222 200, 208, 214, 219, 221 tone 135, 223
238 Index

tool 3, 5, 6, 21, 23, 39, 40, 50, 51, University of Colorado Boulder villain 96, 97, 100, 118
64, 66, 69, 72, 75, 8488, 97, 69, 70, 71 virtual world 11, 54, 188, 222, 229
103, 106, 110, 111, 116, 122, 153, University of Florida 18, 20, 197, visible 4, 23, 66, 85, 158
155, 163, 165, 177, 178, 183, 191 198, 219 vision 53, 113, 149
193, 204, 211, 217228 University of Hudderseld 7173 voluntary 6, 31, 37, 171, 174, 175
toolkit 7, 43, 217; online 225, University of Illinois 54 volunteers 190, 210, 229
229 University of Iowa 221
tournament 32, 43, 49, 50, 99, University of Michigan 19, 31 walkthrough 11, 13, 20
103, 104, 226 University of Montevallo 86 warrior 45, 118
toy 103, 104, 109, 137, 140, 143 University of North Carolina at weakness 117, 161, 162
training 21, 82, 85, 88, 153, 154, Greensboro 16, 219 weapon 102, 110112, 118120,
156, 159, 162, 173, 192 University of Notre Dame 16 132134, 138, 140, 145
trait 11, 117, 119, 136, 224 University of South Carolina Up- web-based 121, 187, 194
transcript 82, 87, 88 state 6, 171, 231, 232 website 6, 15, 18, 2023, 33, 34,
transfer student 6, 171174, 176 University of Waterloo 192 38, 4951, 63, 67, 69, 163, 178,
184, 231; see also freshmen; stu- unlock 70, 85, 99, 146, 191 187194, 196, 197, 199, 218, 219,
dent upload 70, 84, 149, 222 222, 225, 226
transformation 6, 150, 171 upperclassmen 32, 138, 148 Werbach, Kevin 63
travel 19, 99, 112, 120 urban fantasy 5, 110, 111 white board 176, 179, 180, 226
treasure 18, 69, 105, 118, 144, 176, usability 55, 71, 157, 158, 177 wiki 3, 21, 43
178181, 209, 211, 218, 220, 221 usage 9, 10, 66, 67, 69 Wikipedia 15, 70, 71, 110
trend 62, 165, 189, 192, 226, 227 user see gamer Wikisource 70, 71
trial 1114, 156, 160, 211 winner 20, 31, 73, 74, 97, 110, 137,
trivia 4, 7, 31, 32, 3537, 39, 116, validation 157159 197, 221
205, 221 valuable 30, 44, 49, 55, 64, 69, wireless 35, 206
trouble see problem 103, 116, 125, 138, 139, 159, 164, wizard 118, 119, 129
truths 95, 100 177, 184, 187, 190, 222, 223 women see gender
tutorial 6, 11, 16, 1920, 39, 51, value 4, 11, 43, 44, 48, 50, 52, 53, Wonderland 13, 111
171, 203, 205, 211, 214, 219; on- 6466, 73, 83, 86, 87, 92, 125, Wordpress 84, 85, 193, 194
line 7, 2123, 173 154, 160, 190, 217, 223 worksheet 206, 227
tweens 103105, 220 vampire 98, 110; see also monster workshop 85, 86, 172, 173, 177,
Twitter 193, 196, 197 variables 95, 114, 115, 153, 159161, 220, 222, 223, 229
165 World of Warcraft 3, 9, 12, 22, 114,
undergraduate 5, 9, 19, 62, 125, vending machine 121, 208 187, 221
128131, 138, 139, 142144, 149, venues 44, 163, 203 World Without Oil 191193
153, 198, 218, 231 version 6, 35, 68, 71, 85, 115, 121, worlds 5, 13, 20, 54, 100, 109111,
underserved 92, 105, 222, 228 133135, 138, 147, 148, 176, 178, 117, 122, 133, 228, 229; see also
unfamiliar 10, 20, 158, 161, 162, 184, 192, 197, 204, 209, 222 universe
164, 165 victory 97, 100, 146
universe 12, 44, 94, 96, 97, 99, video 17, 18, 21, 23, 51, 187, 188, Xbox 51, 98, 99
109111, 115; see also worlds 194, 199, 209
universities 5, 11, 15, 16, 80, 204 video game 3, 4, 6, 7, 913, 15, 21, Yogscast 3
University of Alabama 31, 38, 193, 22, 30, 32, 40, 4347, 5055, Youtube 3, 21, 193
195 73, 94, 95, 9799, 103, 104, 109,
University of California at Davis 114, 117, 122, 152157, 160, 187, zombie 12, 14, 18, 23, 32, 110, 115,
86 189, 190, 192, 193, 205, 210, 211, 120, 197, 198, 214; see also mon-
University of Chicago 192, 193 219, 220, 222, 223, 226, 228 ster