Friday, 22 November 2013


Chuffed to get some feedback from a recent Games for Libraries workshop:  

“I found the day exceptionally useful and well done. I was really impressed by how well Andrew Walsh incorporated theory and background into a primarily hands-on training. I got quite a few tips for teaching and engaging students through play that were totally new for me and I believe that certain aspects of what he taught will stick with me, particularly the caveats and pitfalls for developing games in university contexts.” 

“I found the Games Day session very useful and informative. The whole nature of the day appealed to my inner child and I found I was able to bring out creative ideas in a friendly environment very easily. Not only was the day very enjoyable but I feel I gained some great ideas that can be taken forwards elsewhere. I particularly loved the embedding of game elements throughout the day, little things like the ideas cards having extras like ‘steal someone else’s idea card’ forced real positive interactivity to the session which added both to the atmosphere and the embedded learning.” 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was well structured and presented, and the slight indifference I felt before the day quickly dissipated. Andrew reminded us that game playing and play takes us beyond the norm – we step through the magic circle he described to a world of holiday and difference where anything may happen. It may be the wood in A midsummer night’s dream or the island in Lord of the flies: one hopes for the former. From confusion represented by the many tiny pieces of Lego, counters, pens, pots of Playdoh, etc., through the thought processes and the group collaboration, to order and the making of actual games, that could be played, it was a fascinating process.” 

“I found the day really productive and interesting. Having experienced workshops with Andrew before, and also taken part in lego workshops with Andy Priestner, I didn’t have some of the reservations of my colleagues, and it lived up to expectations. I think the game our group came up with is worth polishing up and pursuing further, maybe with some added lesson plans and other ideas for including it in teaching.”

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Stairway to Heaven

A board game aiming to show the value and range of information sources available to students.  A prototype from Making Games for Libraries workshop run at York St John University, November 2013.

Give OR take AND win NOT lose

A card based search strategy game, focussing on boolean operators. Using cards you have to form a search that describes a word on the central game board.

PAP: Protect against Plagiarism: Build your defenses

A game aimed at improving students awareness of what plagiarism is, particularly self-plagiarism. Points are awarded for answering questions correctly (as a team), with those points visually displayed by building a tower.

Induction-Doh: How to become an information ninja

This board game introduces players to the campus and resources (particularly the learning centre) at York St John.

York St John event

Had a great day at York St John this week, invited by Katy to run a making games workshop. We ended up with four prototypes by the end of the day, which should appear as soon as my very slow internet connection can upload them!

It was a mix of people at the workshop, not just librarians, and it was great how people such as IT and library worked together to create the games.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

MIL vs IL at the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL)

Not strictly related to Games for Libraries, but I did present on Play and Games for Information Literacy for the ECIL conference. I'll pop a link to what I presented on this blog later ... A few quick thoughts on the tension between Media Information Literacy (MIL) and Information Literacy (IL) as it came up at the ECIL conference! All typed on my phone while taking the children swimming between arriving back from ECIL and setting off to Legoland, so apologies for the typos and rushed, half thought through arguments! Something that kept on coming up at ECIL was the use of the term MIL rather than IL, as per UNESCO (link). This was even to the extent that Ralph Catts in his summing up urged us to switch to using MIL as the preferred term. There were a few reasons for this, largely around it being a broader, more inclusive term. Something that Media Literacy & Information Literacy people could agree on and work under. To illustrate, Ralph asked us which was the broader term - information or media literacy. Most of the room thought 'information', but he said doing the same at a media literacy conference brought back the opposite result. All well and good, but I think this approach is seriously mistaken. First of all, and slightly facetiously, why stop there? Surely Digital Media Information Literacy Skills Fluency would be even better? In fact, I'd argue the opposite. The more 'literacies' you try to bring into the label of a concept, the less inclusive it becomes. Artificially trying to bring groups together just creates even more splinter terms and groups, creating less unity rather than more. When I talk about information literacy I tend to be thinking out of the experiential / relational approach largely originating from Christine Bruce and her colleagues at QUT. That is fairly different from the heavily competency based approach that dominates in the US thanks to the ALA / ACRL standards. I recognise, however, that we are talking about the ideas even though we are coming from different angles at it and I'm really glad they still sit under the same label. The same is true of media literacy, information fluency, meta literacy, or many other of the 'literacies' people talk about, they are different lenses through which we view largely the same things. We all think our term is the broadest because it is - for us. We are looking at broadly similar things from different angles. These things aren't subsets of each other (like Ralph's set picture), they are largely *overlapping* sets. Each new term creates the same problem - someone from outside sees it as smaller, whatever the intention behind it, such as to create a wider encompassing set! Using MIL just creates another largely meaningless splinter term that people spend time & energy defining and arguing about. Surely it's better to publish in each other's journals, speak at each other's conferences, and attempt to break the artificial borders through taking the wider, relational view, rather than picking a new name for a concept (& conference)? I'll think a bit more about how we can do this, starting with the stuff we do through the Information Literacy Group in the UK.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bridging the gap

Prototype created at Salford Uni to encourage library usage, particularly students from a different location which used to have it's own library but won't from next term. They need to be encouraged to come over the bridge to the main library!

'Know How' prize trail

Prototype created at Salford Uni to encourage library usage, particularly new students, using orienteering as an inspiration.

More blanks and materials...

While I'm sat here waiting for videos to upload(!) I've just had a small delivery and bits and pieces for making prototype games.

For the first time I've ordered some materials from a German company called Spielmaterial .

They have a decent range of game components, plus some games, the prices are fair and they came quickly! Think I'll be going back to them when I need to top up my box of goodies again...

Though my favourite game making things are still these blank playing cards from Amazon :-)

What am I?

A game for illustrating a range of resources and their attributes prototyped at Salford Uni.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Blanks and other materials...

I got asked a few times in the last workshop where I bought various of the materials for use in the workshop. I've linked to some of the materials via Amazon on the right hand side of the page, but I bought material from various sources - I'll link to some of the key things below:

Blank Playing cards. I've been getting these from Amazon in packs of 1,000, but smaller packs are available! These are brilliant - recommend using Sharpie "type" pens to write on the shiny surface.

Counters. Loads of different counters are available, I tend to either use these packs of transparent counters, or some slightly different opaque ones (which come in different sizes).

Blank Jigsaws. Can get these from lots of places - have bought them before from Little Crafty Bugs, who do various pack sizes of the same blank jigsaw.

Blank Game boards. I've ordered "snake style" boards from Little Crafty Bugs, but the large square boards have been from GameCrafter

Spinners, meeples / game pieces, and more...  I bought lots of these from GameCrafter. This company will print your own games (I got SEEK! produced by them), but they also sell all the blanks that get printed upon. You can find a brilliant range of things on here, but be aware that the postage and packing is very expensive to the UK as they are based in the US.

Referencing Rummy

A referencing card game, based on Gin Rummy.
Thanks to Carol writing them up, instructions follow:


A card game, around picking appropriate words to create an effective search strategy based on set concepts.


A lecture theatre / large group game around the use of keywords in searching for information.

Spin to Win

A short team game aimed mainly at inductions and basic sessions, can be used with a wide range of questions to adapt the game.

Hot Source - a card game

Hot Source - a card game based on a "top trumps" style idea assessing information sources.


Bust-a-block, a library induction style game.

Castle of chaos, a quest for qualitative understanding of information

A #libraryplay board game from the London workshop.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Library crawl

First idea from the making games for libraries event in London! A treasure hunt style idea called "Library Crawl"...

Friday, 10 May 2013

London Workshop!

Next workshop is in a few days time!

This time in London, at CILIP HQ, we've another day of making games for libraries.

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We're expecting 36(!) people on the day, so once more we'll share ideas and prototypes on the blog after the event.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Superhero game

Last but not least from the Taunton workshop, a Superhero based board game...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Question of Information

I'll add further information later, but this is the first prototype game I've uploaded from the Making Games for Libraries workshop in Taunton, March 2013!

It's called "A Question of Information".

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Taunton event!

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Heading for Bishop's Hull house in Taunton soon to run a #libraryplay workshop for JISC RSC South West tomorrow (13th March). Looking forward to running another workshop in another region of the country, though NOT looking forward to the long journey their and back!

Hopefully attendees will agree (again) to the sharing of ideas via this blog, so I'll post videos and materials as soon as I can after the event.

Note: This ran yesterday, I will be adding resources again to the blog over the next few days - there were five prototypes created! BTW- I can thoroughly recommend the venue, lovely place, we were well looked after by the staff... and the catering was brilliant.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Secret Citation

More details of one of the games from the Leeds workshop - thanks David Porter and team :-D

Secret Citation *or refin’ hell*

There are a variety of ways in which this card game can be played, including ones based on the card games Happy Families and Go Fish! The following rules describe the basic version of the Referencing Card game derived play wise from the card game Rummy.

The game is probably best played with 2-4 people, although a game involving 6 players is possible. The aim of the game is for a player to complete a reference by obtaining all the required elements for a Book, Journal Article or Webpage. A deck of 52 cards is used, each of these cards either bears an element required to complete a reference or a dummy element.

For a Book the elements required are:
o    Author / Editor name(s)
o    Year the book was published
o    Title of the book
o    Edition (if not the first)
o    Place book was published
o    Publisher's name

For a Journal Article the elements required are:
o    Author / Editor name(s)
o    Year the Journal was published
o    Title of Journal Article
o    Full Title of Journal
o    Volume and issue of Journal
o    Pages on which Article appears in Journal

For an Online Webpage the elements required are:
o    Author / Editor / Source name(s)
o    Year information was created
o    Title of web document / page
o    Uniform Resource Locator
o    Accessed date

Included in the deck are dummy elements cards featuring characteristics which are not included in a reference but are commonly included by mistake.

*In order to ensure each player has a hand of five cards there are some elements which can be merged; such as place of publication and publisher or the page numbers of article, volume and issue of Journal. There are also shared elements which can be used to create parts of virtually any reference; such as the name(s) of an Author / Editor, or Year of Publication. Frequency of cards can be altered depending upon number of player. Dummy Element could be altered to feature more common errors found locally.*

Author / Editor(s).
Year Published.
Place of Publication: Publisher.
Title of Journal.
Volume (issue), Pages.
Available at: <URL>
Date accessed.


The game begins with the dealer giving each player a card in turn until everyone has five cards; an additional card is then given to the first person dealt a card. The deck of cards is then placed face down so all players can see. The person who has been dealt an additional card then has to decide which of their cards they wish to discard, which they do by placing it face up so all players can see. If the player does not declare a reference then the next player then has their turn and can either pick up the discarded card or pick one from the top of the deck, again discarding their unwanted card face up on the pile. This routine continues until someone declares they have a reference and presents it to the other players.

In order for a player to win they must firstly collect all the elements required for their chosen medium type and then lay the cards down in the correct order to form a reference. The winning hand must comprise of 3 All cards and 2 medium Specific cards (Book / Journal / Webpage) laid out in the correct order. If any of the other players do not believe it is correct then they can challenge the declaration and if the challenge is correct they may switch one of their own cards for any of the declaring player’s cards. If this results in that player declaring a complete reference otherwise play continues with the player who would have played next. If the declaration is correct then that player wins and play can either commence with the others players continuing or a new game is commenced.

*Option to play with just cards for a single medium and the dummy cards and then add others when players are happier with reference structure*

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Joining the Stories

This encourages students to explore a wider range of reading material and to enjoy it! Students must take the first paragraph from one book, a middle paragraph from another book and a final paragraph from a third book (chosen at random by picking cards). They must then write text to link these paragraphs together, with the aid of "Action" and "Situation" cards (e.g. "Accidently Farting" and "meeting royalty"). Each round of the game can be carried out in around 5 minutes and the chosen books available on cards can be selected depending on the players of the game so the level is appropriate.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

SVO... the game.

A game to improve literacy of college students, around the use of Subject Verb and Object (SVO) to make simple sentences. Students draw a card from each deck (Subject, Verb, Object) and must say if they form a grammatically correct sentence. If they do, they win a point. If not, the next turn they choose which of the cards they would like to swap. Game continues until one person has 5 points and is declared winner! The is the most basic level, "clauses" would be introduced for the next level of learner.

What word?

What Word is a game to encourage understanding of and use of a wider range of English vocabulary for students whose first language is not English. Involves drawing, guessing the words, and finding the theme that connects them!


A mythology themed prototype board game from the workshop at Sir George Monoux College to help students understand tenses. Players have to fill in the blanks in a sentence with the correct tense to work their way past wizzards and monsters to get to the end of the board.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Event at Sir George Monoux College

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Looking forward to running an event at Sir George Monoux College this Friday. It's the first I've run at one institution rather than for a range of people, so it'll be interesting to see how the dynamics change!

Hopefully they'll allow me to share any protoypes they produce, just like at the Leeds event, so I'll post those up here if they do...

Monday, 14 January 2013

Some more events

There are some more events coming up!

I've been asked to run a couple of workshops for similar events, but organised by others - one purely for a college "down South" and one in the South West for the JISC RSC there. There is also the possibility of doing one in Scotland, but nothing arranged yet... may be tempted to organise one from scratch myself up there, but not for a while!

As well as these I've organised a second one myself - this time in London. So, at CILIP HQ on 13th May 2013, I'm running a similar workshop to the one in Leeds at the Rose Bowl. Bookings are open now, but I'm not promoting it widely yet. There was a significant waiting list for the Leeds event, so I've sent out an email to everyone on that list to give them a chance of booking early, before advertising it more widely.