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GLLS2007: Big Games

AmyRunning way late today. I was up most of the night with Amy and her upset stomach. My sofa is comfortable, but not nearly as comfy as my Swedish foam mattress. But I digress. On with the keynote.

Oh. One more thing. I’m nowhere near a power outlet, so we might be separated before the end of the presentation (my battery currently reads 40 minutes). If that happens, I’ll hook up later with notes from another blogger who’s following the conference.

Where were we? Greg Trefry from gamelab (think Diner Dash) spoke about Big Fun, Big Learning: Transforming the World Through Play. I like that idea. If only.

Greg is the Festival Director for the Come Out & Play Festival. The 2007 festival is this September in Amsterdam. The festival moves back to New York. (NOTE TO LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION: This might be a great professional development opportunity for me and Jenn!) Details about the 2006 festival are available here.

“Big games” are both traditional and silly. They have their roots in folk games like tag, scavenger hunts, capture the flag, and others.

Other big game influences:

  • Sports
  • Alternative reality games (see I Love Bees for an example)
    • Internet based
    • Scavenger-hunt like
    • Clues embedded in Web sites
    • Played largely in online communities
    • Conceptual art
    • Social experimentation

Examples of Big Games


Greg visited several New York libraries of different sizes to catalog their “assets” and how they could be used for big gaming.

  • Building features (e.g., the lions in front of the NYPL)
  • Collections
  • Spaces
  • Symbols
  • Unique identifiers (barcodes on books)
  • Databases
  • Librarians (or “referees,” if you will)
  • Displays
  • Refreshment areas




Well, the power cut out on me before I could finish the sentence! So I tried a novel idea: I grabbed a paper and pen and took notes… and here they are:

Ideas for games that could be made in the library:

  • Secret Agent
    • scavenger hunt game
  • Collecting codes
    • searching old materials for clues to solve a mystery
  • Then and Now
    • use digital photo archives to create a game in which players interact with the local community
  • Rent Control
    • use historical matierals to create a game that interacts with neighborhoods
  • Alternative reality game
    • Embed clues in existing materials to create a long narrative that players read through to find clues
  • Code breaking games
    • Use world language collections to make and break codes
  • Dewey’s Demons
    • Players check out materials embedded with codes. Codes are considered “creatures” that players collect and care for.

The library is a new play space!

  • Look around
  • See normal activities as goals
  • Create simple ways to track movement
  • Playtest thoroughly
    • Games won’t work the first time
    • Make changes and play again

24 July 2007 - Posted by | gaming in libraries, glls2007

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