Gaming the Library

I’m getting ready to head out to the ALA conference in Vegas tomorrow (American Library Association, for those who don’t know). I feel a bit like this at the moment –

It’s been an exciting day so far, with the World Cup Game and getting set for my trip, so I thought I’d post something fun before heading off on an adventure. The something fun I thought I’d ponder? Games.

I’m a big fan of Wil Wheaton and his webseries, TableTop, where he and some of his friends get together to play a different board game each episode – Settlers of Catan, Sabotage, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic. I love board games and watching Wheaton and friends celebrate games is a lot of fun.

As with most things I like, I thought “how can I incorporate this into teaching/curriculum design and therefore justify watching TableTop episodes at work?”

Just kidding (only partly). I do think that board games and game design can teach a lot of valuable lessons to kids of all ages (this is turning into an advertisement for an amusement park, or a Chuck E Cheese).

But really, board games are about strategy, playing nicely with others, working together (sometimes), thinking logically, and having fun with challenges. And the things I teach, whether it’s information literacy, tech skills, research strategies, etc. can all involve a lot of the skills needed to play board games and a lot of the experiences you can have playing board games.

I’ve done activities before, in tech classes at museums, where I’ve had kids design their own games, which teaches them a lot about communication skills, logic, planning, and creative problem solving. I’ve been wondering whether or not I could apply gaming to my current library work though. Board game night in the library would be a really fun outreach activity, but could gaming and game design be used in a classroom?

I play small ice-breaker games in a lot of my classes, whether it’s a bingo game to keep students engaged during an orientation session or a quick round of “is it a popular or scholarly source?” or “is it cited correctly?” to have some fun during a research skills class.  I would like to work on ideas to incorporate actual game design into my library classes, though. Maybe an activity where students map out a research strategy as you would a game? I plan to work more on this, so stay tuned for more ideas.

For now, here are some links about gaming, learning, and libraries.

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