Friday, 21 December 2012

Plotting and pondering…a games 4 libraries book.

Less than 24 hours after finishing work until the New Year I started pondering a possible project for 2013…

I’ve written a couple of books now via traditional Library and Information Science type publishers and get a bit depressed at how expensive they are – especially my first book which is essentially lots of practical active learning tips that can get dropped into a session when we’re teaching information skills.

I’d like to do a similar practical book for games that can help support information literacy, but I don’t want it to be expensive, plus I’d quite like it to have photo-copiable / printable resources in it.
So, was pondering creating quite a short book and self-publishing it through a service such as

There could be a free eBook version, plus a fairly cheap print on demand version in a format that is easy to copy. It would include an outline (in a standard format) of some games to enable people to adapt them to their own needs and create something themselves. In addition, it could include the print and play versions of any generic games I’ve already got ready to go (such as SEEK!) or could create in the next 6 months– so librarians could photocopy those pages onto card (or paper & laminate the card), cut out the individual cards / tokens / boards  / etc and be ready to go…

I could also include the prototypes from events like the workshop in Leeds, if I spent some time working through them and finishing them off – as long as people are happy their games being shared this way.

If I wrote the text, it’d cost a relatively small amount of money to get someone to titivate it enough to look prettier (i.e. proof read, typeset, design a cover, etc.) that would normally be done by a publisher, plus the cost of sending out a handful of copies to legal deposit libraries.

So, should I try and do this? Perhaps via a Kickstartercampaign to fund it?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Feedback from Making Games for Libraries event in Leeds

I circulated an online feedback form after the Leeds event (if you attended and haven't filled it in yet, please do!) - thought I'd just share a few things from it!
  • 100% of those filling in the form so far (19th December) rated the workshop Good or Excellent, which I'm quite pleased with! 
  •  92% of people said they Probably or Definitely will develop their game further, so hopefully we'll get some great games being developed in more libraries!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Essay Skills on Wheels

This is just slightly fleshed out from the video!

A board game for up to 4 players.

Trivial pursuit type mechanics – collect elements from various “types” of question until you have the full set, then go to the garage in the middle to win.

Game board. Die. Four counters. Set of question cards with 6 questions on each (or 6 packs of question cards!). Tokens to represent different elements of a car.

To play:

  • Roll a die, move your counter to land on a square – you then get asked an appropriate question from a stack of cards. You have different elements of car to collect. Engine, wheels, light, steering wheel & fuel. If you get the question right, you get a card or token to represent that type.
  • Also an obstacle square – penalties for things such as “buy an essay – lose part of your car”.
  • Question wrong on traffic light square = a penalty. Correct = throw again? Or pick any type of card.

Could have different sets of questions. Easy for college / first year undergraduate – hard for final year UG?
Early draft of this used a physical car that had to be built – this could be a model with bits to stick on, or a picture of a car your winning “tokens” laid over the top of until complete?

REF do!

“Like Cluedo but better!” 

Two to four player game.

REFDO!: A game to introduce the various elements that make up references for different information sources. Use after a general talk on referencing. Could also incorporate reminders re. library services/behaviours into the ‘chance’ cards.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Photos from the Leeds event

A few pictures from the event in Leeds!

Would I lie (Lie-brary) to you?

Thanks to the WILTY team (Eleanor Johnston, Becky McClen, Christine Stevenson, Sharon Potter & James Fawcett) for sending me photos of all their prototype materials!

Aim: To identify correctly as many academic words or phrases as possible.

Monday, 17 December 2012

SORTED - the full details

Thanks to the SORTED team (Barbara Sakarya & Sue Foran), here are the full notes on their referencing jigsaw to add to the initial video!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A quick note on prototypes!

I've now posted all the main videos I shot of groups showing their prototypes!

Over the next week or so (my atrocious home internet access permitting), I'll post some of the earlier videos when groups were just formulating their ideas, as well as some more photos of the day.

More importantly I'll flesh out the prototypes - so as well as the videos I'll add in any photos or notes people send me about how their game works. A couple of groups have sent me stuff already (thank you!), so it'd be ace to get notes from the other groups who took their prototype games away with them.

TRI - Oomph

Possibly the most ambitious game of the day! This prototype uses three different "mini-games" that build together to teach a set of information skills.


Rather than Cluedo, this prototype game is RefDo! A board game with questions - determined by your dice throw and the coloured tile you land on...

CRAAP resources

Probably my facourite acronym of the day... CRAAP is an acronym for evaluating information sources. This prototypes uses CRAAP to make a game...

Secret Citation

This group was determined to make referencing fun! Their prototype addresses referencing skills in students.

Essay skills on wheels

This prototype from the making games for libraries event went through a few iterations! It is a board game where players build elements of a car to fire up their information literacy skills...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Would I lie to you?

Starting off as Call my Bluff, this game was changed to "Would I lie to you?" as being more up to date! A bluffing game with 3 choices for the group to pick from - a correct answer, a plausible sounding wrong answer, and a "silly" wrong answer ;-)

Misc. bits & bats I was asked...

A few random bits & bats! I was asked a few questions during the event in Leeds & I'll try and answer them here...


During the making games for libraries event in Leeds I recorded a short presentation about every game prototyped during the day - this is the first one...

The winner of the prototype game attendees would most like to see turned into a "full" game to share was Sorted - a referencing Jigsaw game.

I therefore thought it was probably appropriate to include that as the first prototype game video!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Choose your own (library) adventure

(See: !)

Another library game idea from me... though more of an interactive storyline that a "proper" game. Relates to time management and search skills, but could just as easily cover different topics (plagiarism perhaps?).

Use either Powerpoint (there is an option to create hotlinks to jump straight to another slide when someone clicks on that hotspot), or a tool such as Articulate Storyline to create this one - then it can be hosted online, possibly within a virtual learning environment. Or get a programmer to create it for you!

1) The player is presented with a list of choices related to completing an assignment. These relate to putting themselves in the position of someone with an assignment deadline approaching - do they procrastinate or knuckle down to it? Do they search Google or borrow books from the library?
2) A short storyline would be mapped out, with previous choices influencing the next (e.g. they may not find the book they need in the library if they leave it to the last minute!).
3) A small number of endings would be presented showing the results of their choices - i.e. do they do well or badly in the assignment?

Use: To encourage timely use of library resources and good time management skills
Format: Online
Time to play: 10 minutes, but could be replayed several times.
Players: Individual

Referencing Jigsaws

(P D Magnus, 

A variation on something I know a few people do, this one!  As a way of teaching referencing you can create a reference, print it out, split into component parts (i.e. cut the paper up!) and ask members of the class to put the reference back together to check they know what goes where...

This takes that idea and turns it into a game.

1) For four teams, would need a minimum of 10 “easy references (1 point); 5 each of others (2, 3, 4 & 5 point difficulty) – i.e. 30 cards.
2) A series of references (in your libraries preferred style) split into a series of constituent parts, would be contained in a closed envelope. Each paired with the reference written out in full as a crib sheet for the instructor(!). Some would be very easy (punctuation included, standard book) increasing to incredibly hard (conference proceeding with punctuation separate). Easiest worth 1 point. Hardest worth 5. Value is written on the outside of the envelope.
3) Split into teams (up to 4).
4) First team gets to choose a 5 different packs (take turns to do so) from the “pool” of references - so  choose to gamble whether to go for easy or hard ones.
5) The teams are allowed to open up and work on up to two of their references at a time, so if they get stuck they can work on another and go back to the “stuck” one later - but can't open them all at a time!
6) When they declare one complete, they can open the next.
7) Each team gets 3 minutes to complete as many references as possible. When the time is up, check the references against a master list and allocate points accordingly. The team with the highest number of points win.

For less able classes, if the instructor wishes, could allow teams to have a referencing handbook each to help...

This could also work online - or using smart board software.

Key points:

Use: To check and re-inforce referencing knowledge 
Format: Paper / card "jigsaws"
Time to play: 5-10 minutes (including checking who has won!)
Players: 4 groups of up to 5 people - larger classes would require a larger number of reference envelopes to choose from in the ratio suggested above.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Matching resources

Yet more cards! Another idea of mine for a card game - matching library resources with their description. I suspect it would be fairly easy to turn this into an online game for individuals rather than groups, with a leaderboard for fastest times - this would be the preferred way of playing the game!

It would need a deck of cards - each resource would have two cards. One with just its name one, the other with a description of it. An example follows:

Google Scholar

I search mainly scholarly resources. You can find me for free online. I am a specialist variation of a popular search engine. Most of the materials I find will only be available as references unless you check your library’s subscription.

1) Would need to be played by small groups, preferably 3 or 4 to avoid people getting in each others way, or being excluded.
2) Start a 3 minute timer at the front of the class.
3) Each group has until the timer runs out to find as many matching pairs as they can from the deck in front of them.
4) When the time is up, ask the groups how many pairs they have found.
5) Run through the pairs declared to make sure they really do match!
6) Preferably run 2 rounds of the game.

Alternative: Play like a memory game (either in print or online!) - cards would be laid out face down, with the player turning two over at a time. They would have to remember where cards appeared and match the title with description.

Overview of key points:

Use: Describing types of resources, increasing awareness of them.
Format: Card game (print or online)
Time to play: 3 minutes a round, plus checking. 2 rounds should take 10 minutes.
Players: Up to 4 per group

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Magic Map induction game

Penfriend image
(Image from RNIB shop -

Another of my own game ideas. This one uses a Penfriend (link to RNIB shop above!) which is a device designed to allow blind or partially sighted people to put audio labels on their shopping. You attach a small label to something, then use the "pen" to record a message related to where you've put the label - then simply press the pen to the label at a future time to hear the message played back.

You could easily create a variation using QR codes or even Aurasma to play back the clues.

1) A floor plan (or plans, one page per floor of the library) would be printed out and the Penfriend labels put on key parts of the floor, instructions on how to play the game printed on the back, then laminate the plans.

2) Record clues that direct players to particular sections of the library you want them to explore - the clue should allow them to discover a secret question hidden somewhere in that location.

3) The people undertaking the induction would have a limited time to listen to the clues, seek out the questions, and then answer them! Answering the questions would be done via a web interface - perhaps through the Virtual Learning Environment (such as Blackboard or Moodle) which would allow the inbuilt quiz and tracking tools to be used. Questions should be a mix of easy and hard ones - with the most important feature being exploring the library to find the questions!

4) Variations could be created for different subject areas - simply hand out different floor plans for different subjects.

5) At a previously agreed time, create a leaderboard from the entries -perhaps offering a small prize to every group to get full points.

Key Points:
Use: For library inductions / orientation
Format: Mix of print & online - interactive guide.
Time to play: Between 30 & 60 minutes
Players: Groups of up to 6

Friday, 7 December 2012

Types of resources - the board game!

(Image from Andrew Wood -

Another of my ideas for a game - this one trying not to re-invent the wheel, but directly re-using content from the SOURCES game I'm finishing off.

It uses a circular board, counters, two dice (one modified), and cards from the SOURCES game.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Top Resources

(Image from S Turner -

As well as blogging ideas to come out of the workshops, I also thought I'd blog a series of my (sometimes vague!) games for libraries ideas... so here is the first of a series of them! Five more are lined up to be released over the next few days...

 Top Resources would be a card game in the style of Top Trumps. Each card would highlight a library resource (Databases, key journals, books etc.).

Links to "useful" resources

I've started to create some links to library games and game making resources on a LibGuide - would welcome suggestions of things to add to this embryonic resource.

Hopefully it will contain existing resources available for people to look at and complement the resources on this blog that I expect to primarily come out of workshops & events I hold.

SEEK! extra copies?

Everyone attending the workshop gets one copy of SEEK! my search skills game.

I'd encourage anyone that wants to use it to think about adapting it and sharing it with others - the files are free to download and available under a Creative Commons licence.

If anyone wants extra professionally printed copies to use in class (I take 6 packs for a class of 30!), see if you can cadge a copy from someone else at the workshop who doesn't think they'll use them!

Alternatively, I've made some extra professionally printed copies of the game available on ebay to buy. Or email me directly...