I wasn’t in class this week, but I hear that there was a lengthy discussion about whether or not video games are appropriate for learning. I wish I had been there, because I would liked to mention this:
People tend to forget that us librarians have tried gaming before. And gotten burned big time. Recently. Librarians continue to publish about reference desks in Second Life, the augmented reality game where players build online environments and have online lives. There was particular emphasis for librarians about building reference desks in Second Life for use. I find this especially interesting because in some ways it is almost the opposite of adapting. Rather than evolving their reference scenario, librarians instead just built their physical environments in game.
If you haven’t heard of Second Life, that’s part of the problem. I first heard of Second Life in a library context and never heard of it outside of it. The digital environments librarian built continue, in my opinion, to be mostly for other librarians.
This is not to say that there is anything essentially wrong with librarians gaming. That is not the point. The point is that librarians often didn’t ask their users before spending thousands of working hours building these islands. There wasn’t as market for these services.
The big question for me as librarian when looking at gaming services is this: what’s the outcome we are looking to accomplish? I think that incentive-centered design like added levels and competition is something that libraries can adopt in many different environments, including digital environments. Librarian often I think feel unnecessarily timid about using incentives other than pizza or the joy of doing something well. Getting a high score or better than your friends are very powerful influences.
In terms of librarians developing their own games, I like the idea but I think we’re not there yet. Librarians should add more “gaming” design to their other environments before they try both online game development and incentives like epic wins. For example, I’ve been thinking about using the physical trading rooms over in the Kresge Business Library for information literacy sessions. That’s taking the one-shot workshop and “gaming” it.
Photo taken without permission from: http://tametheweb.com/2009/02/24/visiting-the-second-life-reference-desk/