If there had to be a preview for the two mini games that the Library at Carnegie Mellon University just released through their cleverly labeled "Library Arcade" that would be it. Thank you John Fudrow for passing along the link and information about the launch of the games.
Max has some work to do and he needs your help. Max is ordinary student who has procrastinated his research paper until the last day but before he can get started on his paper his needs to help his fellow students and the library. Help Max organize a shelving cart of books by subject and LC call number as he races against the clock. Next Max needs to answer the reference questions of other students before he can get started on his own work, but the demands of time and deadlines force Max to "serve" as many patrons as possible. Test out your library skills and help Max complete his work.
Daniel Hood an Information Literacy Fellow and a small group of librarians worked with a graduate class from Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center to develop and create an information game. I talked with Daniel back at May's LOEX conference in San Diego and just recently followed up about the progress of the game and the development process. I'll blog about that tomorrow, but before I get into those details I want to highlight the end product. The production values of both games are great and really have that "just one more try / one more level" feel that makes casual game so enticing and addictive.
There are two mini games available: "I'll Get It" & "Within Range." "I'll Get It" (shown on the right) plays very much like the classic casual game Diner Dash, and that's a good thing. You play as Max, a student helping other students answer reference questions on a variety of subjects. You "conduct" searches at a computer terminal and find a handful of results from various sources (books, articles, & websites). The task is to answer each students' question with the appropriate resource.
The game plays out exactly like Diner Dash making it easy for any student to jump in and play. The interface is completely mouse driven and there are hints available at any time. The player clicks on each table to get the reference question, navigates back to the computer to conduct a search. The results of the search (on the right) show the question at the bottom and the four potential sources in windows above the shelves (printed books and articles) and the public computer (internet resources). The player needs to determine which source best meets the need, retrieve it, and bring it to the patron. As shown in the screen shots, NPC students display a face over the head that represents their pleasure/anger level. Similar to Diner Dash (and real life), the longer a patron waits the more angry they become. The pace of patrons coming and going picks up as the game progresses. Too many "red faced" anger patrons and it's game over.
The second game, "Within Range" is much simpler and straightforward. Max needs to put the books back on the shelving cart in the correct LC order. The player races against the clock to put all the books away in order to move onto higher levels. Call numbers start simple and then before more complex. Higher levels include just subject (on the left wall) descriptions and require the player to place it accordingly.
Again the gameplay in simpler than "I'll Get It" but the interface is intuitive. There are hints available in this game as well.
I'll write more of my impressions later, but in the meantime check out the Library Arcade for yourself.