Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
The Need to Innovate
web-based interactive adventure about bioterror-
ism developed by the University of Florida to teach
library research skills. It aims at helping students
to learn how to search in the library catalog, access
an item in the online course reserve system, find a
journal article and locating materials in the library
by call number. The game files are available to
download and modification by other institutions
(University of Florida, n.d.).
It is also possible for libraries to adapt existing
games to meet their own goals. The University of
Calgary is developing a project entitled “Benevo-
lent Blue” by modifying the first person shooter
“Half-Life 2” to test the effectiveness of first-per-
son perspective action games to introduce players
to information literacy skills. The player controls
a virtual character in a three-dimensional world
and perceives the digital environment through its
eyes. The action genre was chosen because of its
popularity, flexibility of challenges, progressive
narrative and first-person point of view (University
of Calgary, 2008). There are embedded elements
(pre-generated narrative components such as video
clips and scripted scenes) and emergent elements
created as the player interacts with the game. In
the dystopic game world, the player will find a
totalitarian regime where culture, thought and
choice are tightly controlled; the mission will be
to discover the truth in the propaganda saturated
media and to aid dissidents in revealing the for-
gotten memory of the nation. The player must
achieve this by solving puzzles, defeating secu-
rity forces, exploring an old institution of higher
learning and completing tasks such as searching
the library catalog, locating topics, identifying
citations and evaluating resources. Thus, using
“Benevolent Blue”, key concepts of information
literacy are presented through play, along with
ideals of civic responsibility, intellectual freedom,
critical thinking, access to information, copyright,
privacy, diversity and preservation of resources.
For ages, academic librarians have acted like
gatekeepers of access to information. However,
recent technological developments that make in-
formation appear to be easily accessible seem to
challenge this institutional role. Therefore, librar-
ians should adapt to the current digital landscape,
assuming new roles in promoting information
literacy skills, such as the ability to recognize
when information is needed and to locate, evalu-
ate, and use it effectively.
The projects here described can be considered
good examples of innovation. Their outcomes
should be shared and discussed by librarians, so
that lessons for the future can be learned. The team
responsible for “Defense of Hidgeon”, based on
students' and on its own evaluation of the game,
issued some premises for guiding the development
of information literacy games in general. They
claim games must be useful to the coursework
students are already doing, sending them positive
and negative feedback to improve their perfor-
mance, giving them the possibility to see other
researchers at work so they can connect what they
do to what others do, and fostering opportunities
for them to reflect on their own research habits
and on what they are learning. They also argue
that students' performance in gaming activities
must count toward students' grades.
However, it is not clear that information lit-
eracy skills should be taught in mandatory classes
with an impact on students' grades. Smith (2007)
argues that students can resent mandatory classes
they do not perceive a real need for. It was also
found that students ranked credit-courses as their
least preferred means of getting library instruc-
tion, favoring individual assistance while actively
seeking information (Davidson, 2001).
Given the premise that students learn best when
they feel a need to know, perhaps a balance can
be found, both for mandatory and non-mandatory
programs, through the use of games so much
as motivational tools as an integral part of the
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