Video Game Recomendation: The World Ends with You


I do not usually hype a game or discuss game reviews. Usually there is an educational component to why I'm discussing a game. That being said, I haven't been this drawn into a game, characters, world, and gameplay for a couple of years. The game is Square Enix's "The World Ends with You."

The review by Edge Magazine, it is a mix of concepts that ultimately succeed in both style and in depth of gameplay. The New York Times raves in their review:

The result is not just the best role-playing game ever designed for the DS, but one of the best role playing games ever designed for anything.
Stephen Totilo over at MTV's Multiplayer Blog discussed his continually enjoyment of the game and even compared it to the GTAIV for creating a player experience.

Over at 1up.com, Jeremy Parish reviewed the unique game stating:
By all rights, The World Ends With You should be an annoying disaster, a bundle of tired gimmicks and trite clich├ęs... Yet somehow all the things that should be unbearable fall into place and create a game that's far more unique, interesting, and addictive than it has any right to be.
A review from Game Trailers.com

If there needs to be an educational connection for this game, my recent discussion on video game interfaces ties nicely into "The World Ends with You." The player has the ability to control both the top and the bottom DS screens at one time, but it is not required. Beginning players can allow the computer AI to control the top and as the players experience and confidence grows they can control both for added benefits and abilities in battle. The game creates a low barrier to entry and while it sets the mastery level high, it rewards the player for that mastery.

The interface is designed to engage and allow ease of entry level use, with integrated tutorials to walk the player through the system. The interface allows for advanced users to take advantage of controlling both screens creating both incentive for mastery and rewarding that ability. Systems can find and should seek to strike a similar balance.

But in the meantime, I encourage anyone (age appropriate - What they Play lists 11 years old) to go out and try (rent or buy) "The World Ends with You" and see if the game's world draws you in as much as it did me and other reviewers... enjoy.

gameplay image from Ign.com

Introducing the new Co-Book Review Editor: Me

A couple of months ago an announcement and call for submissions went out for a forth coming journal, International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations . I had worked with the editor-in-chief, Richard Ferdig, before and he was looking for editors for the journal. It sounded like an exciting opportunity and a way to become more involved with educational games and research. I submitted my bio, CV, and statement of interest and was very pleased to find out I was accepted.

Their editorial review board reads like a who's who. It is filled with people who's work, application, and innovation I admire. And somehow, I managed to find a spot as a co-book review editor. I'm currently working on a book review for the issue, contacting publishers for review copies, and starting to line up future reviewers. I am excited because this position will help keep me focused on educational gaming applications and connected to the larger research community.

The journal itself looks good and the group working on it is incredible. More information on the journal can be found here, and the general mission of the journal has me looking forward to the first issue:

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations publishes research articles, theoretical critiques, and book reviews related to the development and evaluation of games and computer-mediated simulations. One main goal of this peer-reviewed, international journal is to promote a deep conceptual and empirical understanding of the roles of electronic games and computer-mediated simulations across multiple disciplines. A second goal is to help build a significant bridge between research and practice on electronic gaming and simulations, supporting the work of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.

If anyone has any book review or journal editor experiences or tips they want to share... I'm listening.

And for those interested, the journal is always looking for submissions.

Vs. Mode: Interfaces

I've spent time over the last two days playing Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword for the Nintendo DS. The game itself is enjoyable, you control the action with the touch screen. Draw a slash on an enemy and Ryu attacks. Draw an upward motion to jump, and so on. It is an intuitive control system. I have enjoyed the interaction and innovation the game offers, even if I'm feeling like I do the same thing again each level until a boss fight creates a new pattern to recognize. In spite of this fault, the action is intense and the game keeps the pace moving.

The gameplay got me thinking about interfaces, video games and library systems. Interfaces, both streamlined and extremely complex are a staple of video games and libraries. Given this history and connection, it is also a good topic for this week's Vs. Mode. After a short week last week with Library Voice and my eventually follow up with applications in the classroom, Chad and I are back for another round...

Interfaces

This week sees the re-release of two very distinct games that greatly depend on their unique interfaces: Myst for the Nintendo DS; and Supreme Commander for the Xbox 360.

Myst is a classic adventure game that most will remember from the early 1990's was a technical marvel with it's detailed graphics and 'life-like' world. While I know this may alienate some, I never was able to get into Myst. I knew a number of both children and adults who were immersed into Myst's world. I shared a dorm floor with someone who spent days drawn into Myst and Myst's sequels. While the world was created to a player in, I always felt a strong disconnect as I continually clicked trying to find the right image to open a door or solve a puzzle. "Pixel hunting" as gameplay, never felt like a game to me. While I respect what Myst did for the industry and the love people have for it, the interface continually frustrated me. And it appears to be frustrating reviewers for the DS version as well.

This streamlined interface, while it created a feeling of immersion, did not make comprehension of the environment and goals a priority. As a player, I was often left wondering where to go next or what to click on to advance my progress.

How many of our students feel the same way?
Do our students feel lost in our interfaces, wondering where to click to actually get what they need? Do our students have the Myst like patience to keep trying or do they get frustrated and jump back to their comfort zone of Google?

Supreme Commander is another game releasing this week. It is a story of interfaces to the opposite extreme. It actually recommended that players use 2 monitors to play when it was released last year for the PC.

Two monitors? The level of detail and information available actually encouraged a dual monitor set-up. Now, how many gamers actually used this advanced set-up is up for question. The commitment of time and of the learning curve for the player is great, but supposedly the reward is worth it. Supreme Commander is a real-time-strategy game of controller units, managing resources, and organizing battles on multi fronts. Players are processing a lot of varied data all at one time in order to successful play the game.

Image a dual monitor set-up for undergraduate research? The same student that may complain about the library catalog or a databases' interface may go back to their dorm and use this dual monitor set-up. The game requires a lot from players, but players are capable of meeting those expectations. Should library systems create a high level of expectation as well? Student can map every action in World of Warcraft to a hotkey function, but struggle to keep articles marked in a database or access subject headings. There is a disconnect there. It is not a matter of ability, it is a matter of desire, interest, or perceived value.

Chad my question is, where should libraries fall? Closer to the streamlined and obscure version of Myst? Or toward the complex and rewarding Supreme Commander?

And where, oh where, does EBSCO's new interface fall?
Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword image from MSNBC
Myst images from Gamespot and Nintendo Centrum
Supreme Commander images from IGN

Leveling Up Your Librarians - ACRL Proposal

I want to post an ACRL workshop proposal that I submitted along with Chad Boeninger, from Ohio University & Library Voice, and Jon Helmke from the University of Dubuque. I'm posting in part to seek feedback on comments on our workshop idea. I am eager to keep librarians moving forward beyond just simply talking about "why" libraries should consider, engage, and apply video games and gaming strategies. While I'm happy to talk about the "why" it is the "how" that is really important. How librarians can actively apply gaming strategies into our programs, services, and classrooms. This workshop is a step in that direction.

Leveling Up Your Librarians: Using Videogame Strategies to Increasing Student Engagement & Motivation

Short Description:

As libraries are talking about the value of videogames, the relevance of gaming in libraries cannot be ignored. The challenge is not in seeing the value, but in finding effective and efficient ways to apply gaming into services and instruction. The workshop will help the participants identify and employ gaming strategies into existing programs. This workshop inspires librarians to start small and introduce gaming strategies with traditional outcomes to immediately enhance student learning.

Long Description:

As more libraries are talking about the value of video games in our communities, collections, and classrooms, the relevance of gaming in libraries cannot be ignored. The challenge is not in seeing the value of video games, the challenge is in finding effective and efficient ways to apply gaming into our classrooms and at reference. Rather than investing thousands into longterm game development, librarians can start applying gaming strategies in their instruction and services to improve student engagement and learning today.

The workshop will provide a framework of gaming strategies based upon the work of James Paul Gee, Marc Prensky, the Federation of American Scientists and others to show that the value in gaming is not in the electronic format, but in how students and players interact with the experiences. This framework parallels much in traditional educational theory and provides librarians an existing base of knowledge to build upon. The participants may already be applying some of these strategies within their libraries. The leaders will help the participants identify and apply these strategies jointly in targeted services or classes to create game-based learning experiences. Using video game footage, the leaders will demonstrate how games apply these strategies to teach players and motivate them forward. During the workshop, participants will bring a example of a information literacy lesson or service that they are currently using at their institution and work with the workshop leaders and other participants to identify and integrate gaming strategies into it to improve their teaching and service. This focused and practical application of gaming into our libraries creates opportunities for librarians regardless of gaming experience to obtain the engaging and educational value of video games.

The leaders will demonstrate gaming strategies by actively using them during the workshop. Time is scheduled for leaders and participants to debrief on the process, identify existing hurdles, and brainstorm solutions. Also the presenters are creating an online toolkit to provide continued support to participants after the workshop. This online toolkit will provide examples of lesson plans that integrate gaming strategies and other information sources.

Students playing video games of all kinds and in all places are actually developing their academic skills by exercising critical thinking and information literacy. Librarians are uniquely placed to build on students’ gameplay experiences to create that vital link between game and academic success. This link is created in classroom instruction by using the very same strategies designed into games to engage and motivate players. Librarians can incorporate video game strategies in reference and instruction to create a relevant and meaningful experience for students. This workshop will allow librarians to start small and targeted gaming strategies, while including traditional outcomes to enhance the learning experiences of students across our campuses.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will:
  • Define gaming strategies in the context of educational pedagogy and student learning.
  • Identify examples of gaming strategies to enhance student learning.
  • Create classroom applications of various gaming strategies to increase student engagement and motivation.
  • Construct reference service applications with gaming strategies for the enhancement of student access and value.
  • Develop a lesson plan that integrates gaming strategies for use in an existing information literacy session.

If you have any suggestions for content for the workshop, questions about the format, or any other comments please let me know. The more input on this - the better.

I believe that it is possible to move beyond asking the "why" questions about video games and libraries. Our content does not necessarily need to change to use gaming applications effectively. It is not the "what" that we need to adapt to make gaming work - it is the "how."

Vs. Mode - Mastery in Games & in the Classroom: What Can We Do?

With the vs. mode discussion wrapping up for this week, I wanted to take a moment to offer suggestions on how to answer my own question. The round started with Chad's discussion of mastery or "good enough" in games. I replied with a detailed description of games as both "try and die" and "mastery through play" and responded to some of the questions from Library Voice. While the vs. mode supplement provided examples of both styles, it did not address the specific question:

What steps can we start taking now to foster this mentality?

I'm not naive enough to believe that changing the classroom setting and educational dynamic from "try & die" to "mastery through play" is a simple or straightforward process. I may not be naive, but I am a hopeful fighter. There are many pieces to creating this change, both on the front end (classroom) and the back end (educational system) that need to occur for lasting change. But I have faith. Last week's LOEX conference was full of examples of people working to help shift us closer to "mastery through play."

[any information on the LOEX presenters can found... here. The site will be updated with more handouts soon.]

Front End Changes:

  • Meet students where they are. We should value our students' experience and use it. Not diminish it. William Weare, Valparaiso University, and Michelle Kowalsky, William Paterson University, spoke on this topic with their presentation "Library Instruction and Student Engagement in the Age of Google."

  • Engage our students in areas where they already have experience and use the worlds they know. Sara Holladay and I talked about this with our session on using fantasy sports as a bridge to the academic information literacy skills our students need.

  • Apply various learning styles to reach all players/students. Just as gaming uses a variety of methods to reach the audience, so should we. Merinda Kaye Hensley discussed and provided examples to reach a variety of learning styles in her excellent interactive session: "When the World Grows Smaller: Renewing Your Instruction Methods for International Students Using the Cephalonian Method."

  • Let the students play. We can lower the barriers to failure and create engaging and dynamic lessons applying gaming strategies.

Back End Changes:

  • Assess the comments and attitudes of our students. What was/is their emotional pulse. Candice Benjes-Small and Eric Ackermann from Radford University spoke on assessing comments in their session "Creating An Architecture of Assessment: Using Benchmarks to Measure Library Instruction Progress and Success."

  • Evaluate our services after the assignments are due. We should be asking the question of if our "game guides" (instruction) was really useful. If not, do we need a better walkthrough guide? Here is the handout from Jeannie Callas' assessment presentation with some examples to help us get started.

  • We can treat assessment as an assembly process, not the final product. Assessment that is based on the "quest" rather than just the "final boss." This portfolio method of assessment is not new, but it takes the emphasis off of the "good enough" end product (boss battle) and turns it to the process/journey of a portfolio.

  • Librarians should advocate and work for inclusion on the "design team." Are you or is someone from the library on an assessment committee or organization on campus? Does the library have a place at the table? If we are part of the "games" design, then we are in a better longer term position to creating winning products... life long learners.

These are just a few of the many changes we can start to move our educational focus to mastery through play.

If not now, when?

If not you, who?


Vs. Mode: Mastery in Video Games; the supplement

Chad over at Library Voice got this week's Vs. Mode started discussing if videogames teach through forced repetition or through incentives to return. I replied in kind late last night, but as I was writing I wanted to explore more games to see how they teach.

Do videogames use the "try and die" method Chad discussed basically providing the player enough skills to complete the level or the boss (ie. teaching to the test)?

Or Do videogames create a "learning environment" where players want to continue trying and return even once done to improve their performance and create mastery through play?

To gain a larger picture of the gaming world, I want to look at both the top selling games in America from April 2007 to April 2008. According to a Next Generation story from April 9, 2008 the following are the top ten games:


10. Brain Age 2: More Brain Training in Minutes a DayImage

Brain Age 2 is most certainly a game of mastery through play. The game is designed to bring players back on a daily basis to practice their skills and improve their scores. It tracks the daily scores and praises the player for setting new records.

Image9. Super Mario Galaxy

Mario Galaxy is a balance of both types of teaching. To progress through the story, the player only needs to do enough to complete a level and eventually defeat Bowser. But to really complete the game and gain access to the "secret" ending where Princess Rosalina's storyline is tied up (Gamasutra had a great piece on this earlier this week... here) - a player needs to collect all the star pieces. There are many star pieces that can be obtained within any given level of Galaxy and this piece of unfinished business helps create the motivation for the player to return again and again and gain mastery at each level.


8. Assassin’s CreedImage

Assassin's Creed follows the same example as Mario Galaxy, although critics have argued if the narrative in the game is even enough to keep players coming back. Regardless there is an overarching narrative that will continue into future games of the series, but there are also flags hidden throughout the world to provide players a reason to return. Although, unlike Mario, the the incentive is stronger to "just get through and be good enough" rather than collect everything.

Image7. Pokemon Diamond/Pearl
Now here is a game that forces mastery through play. Pokemon evolve and gain experience through their battles, so continued play is a must. Most players, regardless of their age, do not play for the narrative of becoming a master trainer. Most play for the collecting, leveling, breeding, and battling of their Pokemon. Mastery is not gained by being "good enough," there is always something or some Pokemon that can gain experience.

6. Need for Speed: ProStreetImage
The racing genre itself is based around mastery through play. While there may be times when "good enough" is needed to open up a new car or track, the gameplay is designed around the continued play and improvement of play. Records are set by the fastest time, not just anyone who crosses the finish line.


Image5. Madden NFL 08
Being good enough may get a "W" in the box scores, but mastery through play comes over the course of a season or more. The player learns more after every set of downs and every game. The skill and drill strategies do not work here because (most often) the AI will adjust if a player's strategy or plays become routine. Mastery not memory is needed here.


4. FIFA Soccer 08Image

Same comments as Madden above. Mastery not memory.


Image3. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
Guitar Hero may rely on memory for notes, "good enough" is not in this rockers vocabulary. Guitar Hero allows players to teach to the test by practicing songs they will need in the career mode (expect for the boss battle, which take on the just survive mentality), but Guitar Hero also keeps scores on each song. This reporting encourages the player to return again and again, to see how they have improve and ranking their performance

2. Halo 3Image
The final two games balance both modes of teaching. "Good enough" applies to the single (or mulit) player, story driven experience where the players are able to close off Master Chef's story arch. But the multiple player is what continue to drive sales of these games and continued to drive people online to play them.

The online multi-player experience is specific to mastery through play and practice. Online leaderboards may record wins and loses and rewards those who continue to practice and improve their skills.

Image1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Like Halo 3, the story driven experience allows for skill and drill education. In fact, due to COD4's continually respawning enemies memorizing certain spawn points and patterns is often the best (only?) way to get through certain sections. But it is not the single player game that kept COD4 on the top of XBox Live until last week's release of GTA4. It is the deep multi-player experience that creates a rewarding learning environment for players to increase their skills. COD4 recognizes the importance of mastery through play and practice by awarding metals and levels to players who have learned skills and increased the success in online games. COD4's online mode creates an active learning experience that players continued to return to in order to practice, improve, and demonstrate their knowledge.


Knowing that many of the top selling games last year tried to find a balance between passing a standardized assessment (boss battle or level) and a continued learning environment for increasing knowledge (higher scores or rankings) - can we as educators find that balance?

And can video games help us achieve it?


All images via Next Generation

Vs. Mode: Mastery in Video Games & Mastery in Research

It's another week and while Library Voice and I are a little late to the table (finals week and all) we are back with another Vs. Mode. Chad starts off with a post on video games, mastery, and education. He raises questions about if games teach by repetition (die & try) or through practice (replay)? I'll first touch upon how games teach through each strategy and then move the discussion to what we can and should do about it.

“Try and Die”

As Chad talks about the try and die gameplay mechanic, “Typically, if you get beaten by a level boss, you have to fight him again and again until you defeat him. Once you get enough practice by getting beaten over and over again, you eventually (hopefully) develop enough skills or learn more about the boss to defeat him.” This is video games version of teaching to the test. Granted this is a gameplay mechanic originally applied due to the quarter eating economics of arcades, then to AI limitations, and eventually it simply became a video game tradition. There is most certainly skill here is the successful completion of a mission or a boss fight. But it is the same type of skill developed in schools to pass and perform well on skill and drill tests.

Gameplay teaches to the test be allowing players to practice a specific skill in the level that will be used against a boss battle. Anyone who’s played a Zelda game will understand the logic of, “If I just got bombs in this boss dungeon, then I must use bombs against the boss.” Now granted there is something to be said for the “just in time,” as Gee describes it, delivery of information that makes the information relevant and important to the user/gamer. But the method of gameplay, or teaching for that matter, that focuses on just passing the boss or the assignment is simply an extension of skill and drill educational practices. A class is passed, a mission is completed, period. Under this method the grade or the amount of health left doesn’t make a difference. One life bar or ten, the battle is over… move on.

Now I’m not the first to use gaming analogies to criticize some traditional educational methods. Others have done it before and done it better. I was rereading an article from Kurt Squire last week from Innovate (2005) and he leveled criticism at skill and drill assessment and traditional curriculum. What is important in this discussion is not the limitations of “teaching to the gameplay test” but how to get beyond it to the mastery level of skill.

Mastery through Play

Chad’s idea of mastery through play really boils down to “good enough” not being “good enough.” Game players may pass a level, but will they return to it again for a better rating/score or to unlock some additional material. While the player was “good enough” to move beyond the level there is often some incentive, either intrinsic or extrinsic, for them to come back. Chad’s question is about how we can create this incentive to come back and continue searching with our students.

Before we try to answer that question, let’s look a little bit more a some examples from games to gain a better understanding of what creates this incentive. Chad uses the example of Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror for the PSP (and ported to PS2). Dark Mirror uses both narrative and gameplay incentives to elicit mastery from players. Each level contains hidden folders that provide additional information about the larger story and conspiracy that occurs throughout the game. This is an embedded narrative device to motivate players to explore more even after they were “good enough” to pass the level. The gameplay incentive is tied to gaining a better rating or score for completing the level, similar to what Chad described.

[It is useful to know the distinction between these motivations because it speaks to games recognizing different learning styles. What connects with some players/learners will not connect with others, so building both styles into the gameplay creates an appeal to a larger audience. It may not immediately seem relevant to talk about video games teaching to different learning styles, but the consideration is there (but that is a discussion for another Vs. Mode).]

I’ve recently played Syphon Filter for the PSP as well, but I’ve been playing the online game Combat Ops. The online multiplayer version encourages mastery through play at the gameplay level. While a player may be good enough to help his team win a match, there is always room to improve. The improvement is encouraged as a player can play similar maps again and again against the same or different opponents. Even though I know I’m not even close to the mastery level in the game, I still continue to return, practice, and hopefully improve. Most online multiplayer games encourage mastery through play, since there is never a next level. Players continue to play matches with and against each other not for the story, but the gameplay. Multiplayer games add a social dimension to mastery, a player’s skills also increases their perceived valued in an online community.

Puzzle and racing games apply the concept of mastery through play as well. A player may pass an individual puzzle or track but there is always the incentive to come back for a higher score or faster time. Most non-story based games use mastery through play as a motivating concept to keep players coming back to the game. This week’s release of Boom Blox for the Nintendo Wii is a great example of this. As you can see from the gameplay trailer below, it is a puzzle game based around the basic idea of building up blocks and knocking them over. There are single player missions where good enough can get a player by. But the majority of the gameplay centers on getting a better rating/score for a level. Players return because the game is enjoyable and there is both an intrinsic and extrinsic desire to do better. The extrinsic reward is the better score or unlocking new content. But the intrinsic reward of having fun or a sense of accomplishment, will always be a more powerful reason to draw players back into games.

Now let’s look again at Chad’s question:

My question is this: 1) Does real learning occur in video games with these methods? 2) Can these teaching methods be replicated outside of the video game world? 3) Which method (if any) should educators and librarians employ when teaching our students? 4) Finally, can we do this without making it too dorky for our students?

1) Yes real learning does occur in both of these methods. But as discussed above, the “teaching to the test” mentality of Mastery of “try and die” is a short term skill. A player who’s barely passed a level once is not guaranteed to pass during another try, if they are not keeping their skill set up. “Mastery through practice” creates long term learning (of gameplay mechanics at least) through practice and continued use. This learning and retention of skill sets falls neatly into place with our experiences in educational environments.

2) The intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that the games mentioned above can be created in our classrooms. Teachers attempt to incorporate these various incentives and learning styles on a regular basis. The challenge is not only in creating these methods in the classroom but retaining them. For librarians how do we get past the “good enough” mentality of students searching for results and doing research? Creating experiences that get beyond “passing the level” is something we continue to struggle with. The hardest question is not if they can, it is how can they?

3) I sure hope that I’ve answered this question above… Mastery through play is a wonderful application when we can achieve it.

4) Ah, the “dorky” librarian question. I believe the answer to avoiding the “dorky” factor as Chad put it, is not to try to shoehorn our instruction into a game mentality. Yes, sometimes games are appropriate but not everything needs to be a game. A classroom setting can be just as engaging through gaming strategies and other teaching strategies without having to play a “game” with our students.

Creating a game sets a pretty high bar of expectations for students. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying and investing in projects and grants to create games. [Those are important and should continue] But it does mean it is not the only path. We can and should be using video games and gaming strategies to inform our teaching, not just simply to do our teaching.

So Chad if we agree that “mastery through play” is an ideal application of helping students move past the “good enough” mentality of the first 3 results in Google or the first page in EBSCO – how do we create it?

What steps can we start taking now to foster this mentality?

Can we ever foster it?

I’m already starting a response to my own question… I believe the answer lies in a combination of new gaming strategies and traditional education pedagogy. How about you?

You know you work at a great place when...


... the staff sets up a gaming day for your going away party.

Today I had my farewell reception at the University of Dubuque and the library staff organized an event. I not really a big event kind of person and always wondered what people would say to me at something like this. It turns out, they said an awful lot of nice things. Surprising nice, inspiring, and moving comments about my work with the University.

At LOEX this past weekend, I made an brief comment to my co-worker, and future Assistant Director Anne Marie Gruber that I'd love my last impression to be gathering people together and playing Wii. I thought it would keep things fun and continue to advocate for video games.

Anne Marie took the comment and ran with it. I was shocked to find Wii Sports set up. It was great to see staff and faculty try Wii Tennis and Bowling. And even the faculty that didn't try it were talking about it. I was happy that the library staff helped keep the conversation of video games and gaming general on campus. Not only did they keep the conversation going, but our director, Mary Anne Knefel, took time to help my youngest son with Wii bowling. Thank you Mary Anne.

Thank you to all the library staff who put the event on, you really made me feel valued. And thank you to the University for seven years of growth, education, and community.

Gaming at the University of Dubuque's Study Break


Sunday night, the library at the University of Dubuque held their finals week study break. We had sandwiches, fruit, cookies, chips, and lots of caffeine to drink. The library's board game collection was put to good use with a number of large groups of students playing games. In addition, DDR continue to be a popular way to regain some energy.


This semester was the 3rd semester that the library's held the study break and each time we have partnered with other groups on campus like student life and student government. The feedback from students was great each time and this Sunday was no exception. We had a record turnout. Even with me doing some DDR, people stayed around... so the food must have been good.

I know the library is in good hands when the Director and upcoming Assistant Director will take on all challengers. If there is ever a collection development debate that can't be settled through words... DDR awaits.

Gaming Applications and LOEX of the West

After getting back yesterday from LOEX in Chicago, my attention is now turned to LOEX of West. The conference theme is: Successful Experimentation and Innovation in Instruction. I am excited about this conference because gaming was one of the focuses within the theme. Sara and I are presented an updated version of our LOEX presentation. There are a number exciting presentations focusing on gaming, but my concern is that they are all focused on one of the two days.

Friday, June 6th
Chris Thomas and Jerremie Clyde from the University of Calgary are talking about their Half-Life 2 mod for information literacy. More info on their project can be found on their site, Hardplay.

Bee Gallegos from Arizona State University is presenting during the second session of the day on their information literacy game project Quarantined.

This is great and exciting news for information literacy and video games in academic libraries. The problem comes during the final session where 3 of the 5 total video game presentations occur. I'm disappointed that even though gaming was a focus of the theme, the sessions are all grouped together at the end of the second day. This scheduling unfortunately reducing the audience for all three of these sessions. Rather than allowing librarians interested in games for instruction to find out as much as possible, they are limited by scheduling.

The final presentations during the cramped 3rd and final session include:

A Portal to Student Learning: What instruction librarians can learn from video game design
Nicholas Schiller - Library Instruction Coordinator, Washington State University Vancouver
Our students are coming to the university having spent thousands of hours playing games. This presentation will analyze the learning techniques designed into the game Portal and provide practical instruction techniques that are familiar to a generation of games and also appropriate for the rigors of academic research.

Head Hunt: An Online Library Orientation Game
Fred Roecker - Library Instruction, The Ohio State University Libraries
Can 6,000 new students become familiar with a major library before they set foot on campus? They can if they play "Head Hunt," the new online library orientation game from The Ohio State University Libraries. Learn about development, software, testing, and more to create a similar game for your libraries.

The Library Arcade
Dan Hood - Information Literacy Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University
Discover Carnegie Mellon University Libraries' Library Arcade , starting with a brief discussion of educational gaming and ending with the marketing of their final product. Hear how the project addressed learning outcomes, assessment, information literacy, visual literacy, libraries and the "lame factor", gaming culture/millennials, working with outsourced game designers, user testing, and everything else involved in creating these information literacy computer games.
Now for full disclosure, Sara and I are presenting during this time as well, which limits my access. But my disappointment is not personal. I've been lucky enough to talk to both Fred about the "Head Hunt" game and Dan Hood about the creation and gameplay of Library Arcade. And I've emailed Nicholas about his application of Portal.

My disappointed in the scheduling is not for me but for those presenting and every librarian interested in applying video games and game strategies into information literacy. The increased exposure of gaming at LOEX of the West is great, but scheduling problems limit the education and advocacy of video games in library instruction.

Help me LOEX of the West? Or is it too late?

Free Comic Book Day & Libraries

Since I'm an academic librarian, my RSS feeds for public libraries are on the lighter side. So this may be old news to some of you, but I'm still excited by the activity of this partnership.

After returning from LOEX tonight, there was just enough time to get to my local comic book shop for Free Comic Book Day. With my previous readings into narrative and transmedia, I was interested in the literacy and library connection. A quick search for "free comic book day" and "libraries" resulted in a large number of libraries partnering with comics.
I was overjoyed to find the sheer volume of libraries actively creating partnerships with local comic stores and taking part in free comic book day. ilovelibraries.org summed up the potential of the day nicely:

Aside from providing free exposure to many of the most exciting projects in the comics industry, Free Comic Book Day also presents an opportunity for libraries with graphic novel collections to partner up with local comic book stores. The expertise and product familiarity of the people at your local comic book store can often prove to be an invaluable resource, and the community outreach emphasis of Free Comic Book Day makes it an ideal situation for letting graphic novel fans know about what your library has to offer.
Local newspaper coverage from Norman, OK
The event is a single day when participating comic book shops and libraries around the world give away books to promote interest in the comic and graphic novel formats.
Some blogs highlighted the comic book store partnerships, As Madison did across the Madison, WI Public library system. Others, like Niles, IL used the day to promote existing graphic novel collection. I like Austin, TX Libraries approach to the day, helping promote the day for their local comic book stores and then providing addition copies at the libraries on Monday. Pikes Peak, CO used the to not only provide and promote comics but to provide some educational programming about the history of comics and show a few comic related films.

New Jersey State Library even got into the act.
And finally having the DIY Librarian blog about it helps raise the connection to libraries a lot more than my post.

As a comics read for over half my life, I am thankful to be able to work in a profession that recognizes and celebrates my passions and works to inspire that passion in others.

LOEX 2008: Fantasy Sports - The Road to Information Literacy Championships

Welcome to those of you attending LOEX. Below you will find a variety of links and documents that were available as handouts. Sara Holladay, the Fantasy Football Librarian, and I thank you for your interest in fantasy sports and information literacy.

We can reach our students where they are at and make their previous experiences and interests valuable and useful in their academic success.

Fantasy Football Mapped to ACRL Standards
Fantasy Football Librarian
Fantasy Sports and Information Literacy on Research Quest

Thank you and we look forward to helping you find new ways to connect with your students.

Vs. Mode Wrap-up: Grand Theft Auto

The launch of the new Vs. Mode was successful. Chad from Library Voice answered my questions and I think we cover a good number of topics and points with the educational and information literacy aspects of the Grand Theft Auto series.

Chad concluded:

Rather than argue about whether GTA teaches real life skills, should we be arguing that our methods of teaching should be more like GTA? Shouldn’t we encourage students to do more in-depth exploration of their research topics without imposing a self-limiting scorecard on the number of resources they have? Shouldn’t we make our interfaces more user-friendly so that they give immediate feedback when a search fails? Shouldn’t we offer students multiple opportunities for revision, so they can continue addressing a research problem/paper with trial and error? If the whole concept of lifelong learning/information literacy is to develop skills that students will have for the rest of their lives, shouldn’t we offer them multiple chances to try/fail/succeed in the application of these skills? Finally, the GTA series is often commended on the way it nearly replicates much of the real world. Should we be trying to replicate similar experiences in GTA (feedback, trial and error, exploration) and apply them to our world?
For the complete discussion...
Part 1 by Research Quest
Part 2 by Library Voice
Part 3 by Research Quest
Part 4 by Library Voice

Chad and I will return to Vs. Mode next week on a separate topic... stay tuned