Serious Games and Information Literacy

Michelle Boule, a Social Sciences Librarian at the Universtiy of Houston, was a recent guest blogger for ACRLog.  Her post, which was called Serious Games, combines my interest in the library world (information literacy) and my interest outside the library world (video games).  Boule discusses a new type of game called the “serious game.”  These are games that teach people things, such as the games that we have been seeing for over a decade that teach children simple things like spelling and math skills.  Some of the newer games in this genre are tackling issues much more serious than the subjects being taught in schools, however.  Boule points us to some games that address issues such as global warming and the genocide in Darfur.

Then she goes on to discuss what implications these “serious games” can have for libraries.  Boule suggests that libraries should be creating “serious games” that teach information literacy skills.  These games could include solving puzzles that include some sort of information search or require the player to differentiate between good and bad information in order to solve it.  I think that Boule makes some very valid points when she says that these types of games could have a real impact on information literacy instruction.

Games are one of the mediums of choice for today’s youth and there’s no reason that libraries shouldn’t be using this medium to reach them.  I’ve seen first hand gaming servers and the collaborative work that goes into completing or playing a game on a something such as Xbox Live.  It seems like the implications for creating a collaborative information literacy game would be just as great.  I’ve read in a number of articles on information literacy that say that one of the best ways for students to learn information literacy skills is to learn with the help of peers.

 The implications made by Boule are great for information literacy and would make it a more interesting subject for today’s younger generation.  In addition they would learn much more from something that they didn’t even realize they were learning from.

found via The Information Literacy Land of Confusion


7 responses to “Serious Games and Information Literacy

  1. I think this is a great idea. I am continually amazed at how little kids know about information literacy. When I was a kid we actually had “library classes” where learned a little bit about the library each week. I don’t think this happens as much any more. Even my own kids surprise me with their basic questions when we visit the library together. Unfortunately, I assumed they had been taught so much more. If gaming will get their attention– go for it! Who says learning something can’t be fun too!

  2. KidLibrarian

    It was very interesting to read this blog. I came along before video games more involved than Tetris. Though I don’t share the interest of video games that others have, I can understand it. Boule opened my eyes to other ways the game format can and should be used. Wow! What a great way to teach info literacy, be it in the public or school libraries. It’s also a format that I wouldn’t mind investigating to learn more about global warming. What about the video games as a way of supporting the learning of a second language. The possibilities are endless.

  3. Hey Pop Culture Librarian.

    I can see the value and need for “serious games” ( I love Big Brain Academy. See if you are not familiar with it). However, I also see the need for let loose and have fun games too like Dance Dance revolution (See

    I recently attended the ALA conference in Washington and worked part-time in the ALA publishing booth that was promoting gaming. I was quite interesting the see how different librarians (and by extension, their library) approved the concept of gaming in the library. Some were early adopters and have offered gaming in their library for several years, others were interested in the concept but wanted to know exactly how patrons would benefit from gaming and what they would learn. Another librarian commented that her library district school test scores are two levels below the national average and if she spends monies from her budget on gaming instead of educational materials, “she would be shot and hung by the community”.

    Bottom line each library needs to do what is in the best interest of their community. I feel that although non- “serious games” may not be teaching spelling, math they are still important tools that help to promote the library as a place and foster the development of a variety of other mental and physical skills important in an individual’s development. Who know perhaps even some patrons will read a book or two while waiting for their turn.

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