Monday, May 15, 2006

Gaming Literacy and Information Literacy

I recently attended a workshop titled "Gaming and Learning in Academic Libraries." Despite what the title suggests, it had nothing to do with gambling. Instead, it dealt with video games and how they relate to libraries.

One of the speakers was Robert Holley. He talked about several things including his concept of gaming literacy. Gamers learn certain skills and acquire traits that helps them navigate the video game worlds. Holley argued that this can be translated and understood in information literacy terms.

For example, gamers usually learn a skill or acquire it just before they need that skill or item to advance to another level by beating a boss or solving a puzzle in a game. It is the immediate need of the game which dictates what the gamer chooses to focus on. Many gamers learn that some skills or items do not help very much. As such, they learn or seek when it is actually required.

This can be understood in information literacy. These same gamers are often college students. They take the lesson from the game world and apply it to life. They will only seek information in a library when it is required of them and then only right when the information is needed. Any wonder we see students at the Reference Desk the same day the assignment is due?

This can be used to help educate students in information literacy concepts. I am not sure quite how to do it though. I do not want to present the library and the Reference Desk as a gate, enemy, or puzzle that must be solved before the next level can be attained. This would put the library in an adversarial role. Yet, there is some power in this analogy.

This workshop definitely gave me some food for thought. How can I get the attention of the gamers and use their culture and mindset to help educate them?


flexnib said...

Thanks for this post - I like the fact that you've pointed out that the word "gaming" has nothing to do with gambling. A lot of people around here (Perth, Western Australia) also associate the word with gambling - we even have a Minister for Racing and Gaming.

"They will only seek information in a library when it is required of them and then only right when the information is needed." I see this a fair bit where I work (a university library). A lot of it might be due to poor time management, though :)

M said...

Thanks for your comment.

I live in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan and we have an Indian casino in town. Gaming means gamnling here too!