Jason Puckett With great power comes great bibliography.


ALA session attended: Gaming, Information Literacy and College Students

My thoughts on this session: I've seen and read a lot lately about learning characteristics of the millenials, or digital natives, or whatever you care to call them. What I was hoping for from this session were some actual practical applications of these principles. I wanted to hear how we can take these gamer paradigms and turn them into library instruction content for college students.

Gaming, info literacy and the college student, ACRL

James Paul Gee, UW-Madison
author, Why Video Games are Good for Your Soul

Information: Use, Assess, Modify

  • First, use information, as in books
  • Next, too much information, assess what is useful
  • Finally, modify information that is not useful so that it becomes so - users create their own information, information is useless unless you can modify it

Video games fit into this paradigm: they are about users modifying information for their own purposes

The old literacy gap was about children of low-income families learning to read less well; the new literacy gap is about digital literacy. Not about who has equipment, but who has scaffolding to learn the skills of becoming a digital writer

arcane "academic" language, complex technical language is now also the language of gaming rules (example: yu-gi-oh cards). Game manuals are written in this technical language.

Anecdote: before playing the game, the manual made no sense and he gave up. After several hours of play experience, reading the manual again made perfect sense. The experience of play gave situated meaning that made the manual lucid.

"comprehension is grounded in perceptual simulations that prepare agents for situated action" (Barsalou 1999) - meaning is grounded in situations, not in abstraction. (My note: this is why we avoid giving instructional sessions before the students have a concrete assignment)

We pay 50 bucks for a product that is long, hard and complex and incorporate problem-solving - if the users can't learn to do it, the company goes broke

Learning principles that we could (should we?) borrow from video games.

Lower the consequences of failure: if consequences are too high, we won't take risks. If you don't explore every part of a video game, you miss the "good stuff." reward failure in video games by giving special bonuses

Performance before competence: play before you know how to play expertly. Most video games let you succeed early.

Players high on the agency tree: Players have to make decisions. If you don't do anything, nothing happens

Problems are well ordered: Rich environment, but with defined guidance. The first problems must bear fruit for later problems

Cycles of challenge, consolidation, and new challenge (expertise). Master one level, move on to the next. Cycle of expertise: at first you can't do it, at the next level it's too easy and you move on to a new challenge

Stay within, but at the outer edge, of the player's "regime of competence." State of being pleasantly frustrated.

Encourage to think about systems and relationships, not just isolated events, facts and skills. Players in e.g. Civilization must think about long-term complex issues and make interrelated decisions.

Give verbal information "just in time" -- when players need and can use it - or "on demand" when the player asks for it

Learning is embodied and affective (emotion). Emotions are deeply tied to thinking; when emotions are engaged as part of learning, the knowledge is stored much more deeply. If it matters to you, you learn it, if it doesn't, you don't.

Recruit smart tools, distributed knowledge, and cross-functional teams just like modern high-tech workplaces. Game characters are "smart tools" that already know how to e.g. be a swat team member and the player directs the tools strategically. Cross-functional teams in WOW: each player has specialized expertise and must be excellent at it to succeed. All team members must also understand other members' roles as well to mesh with or replace other members.

Offer players strong identities. Players learn to view the virtual world through the eyes and values of a distinctive identity or one they themselves have built from the ground up.

Encourage a distinctive view of intelligence: encourage players to explore thoroughly before moving on, to think laterally, not just linearly, and to use such exploration and lateral thinking to rethink one's goals from time to time.

Modding: don't just take the information of the game, modify it. Building game maps, skate parks, Civ cultures....

Empathy for a complex system: Games are simulations in which the player is inside it. (Scientists are outside their own simulations, but think and talk as if they were.)

George Needham, OCLC

"What can librarians learn from gamers?"

Gamers are highly-wired, continuously connected, representing a change in the way people seek information

"Why is an old poop like you talking to us about gaming?"

first computer game (1962, "spacewar") was instructional: designed to show researchers how to use the computer

Many names, similar ideas: "net-gen," "digital natives"

today's students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors

-- taking prudent risks, retrying difficult problems

digital immigrants will always feel that this is something new and must adapt to it digital natives know nothing different
conventional speed "twitch"
linear processing parallel processing
linear thinking random access
text audio-pictorial
process payoff
reality fantasy
technology: uneasy partner technology: friend

"Born with the chip"

  • format-agnostic
  • nomadic
  • multitasking
  • experiential
  • collaborative
  • integrated
  • principled
  • adaptive
  • direct

The gamer's view of life: (John Beck)

  • Gamers are always the hero of their own games
  • the world is a logical, human-friendly place (consistent rules)
  • it's natural to move between tasks
  • multiple paths to victory, but winning really is everything
  • Failure along the way is not only an option, it's to be expected.
  • Leaders can't be trusted
  • Life should be fun

Gamers work on three levels: (My note: How could this be applied to library instruction?)

  • Compete: play like hell to win, but when the game's over:
  • Collaborate: share tips, techniques
  • Create: generate new content, mods!- the Sims, e.g.

Rethinking how we deliver service:

  • Multiple paths
  • many formats, platforms
  • consider the non-print learner
  • the librarian as the "information priest" is as dead as Elvis (again, leaders can't be trusted)
  • what can the user contribute?

Rethink where we serve:

  • Physical layouts of libraries, classroom, school buildings
  • online services are journeys and markers, not destinations
  • 24/7/365 is barely enough

Some insights from the gamer world:

  • Short cuts, not training: on-demand learning as needed
  • risk-taking and trial-and-error are okay
  • expertise is more important than titles or credentials
  • constant feedback - both for users and staff

How do we apply this now?

  • Play an online game once in a while
  • offer services on IM, use text messaging
  • throw a LAN party
  • bring digital natives into the planning process (even if they don't have an MLS or PhD)
  • respect non-print learning
  • steal the good ideas that are already out there: (Gaming and libraries: intersection of services by Jenny Levine)
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  1. Thanks for the notes was sorry I missed this session, although I’ve heard Georges’s (excellent) presentation before.

    For concrete examples, get thee to Chicago July 22-24 for the ALA TechSource Gaming Learning & Libraries symposium!


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