BiblioGRAfia: Gamified Library Use / Gamedec Inauguration


Finally! The first meeting with new students at the launch of Humanities 2.0 B.A. at UKW. Where? In our HQ at the newly built Main Library. With GAMEDEC: Game Studies & Design one of H2.0 specializations, we didn't feel like starting off with an inaugural lecture. Or paperwork. Or anything close to it. Nope. You don't get a second chance to make the first impression.

biblioGRAfia was a team-played scavenger hunt based on puzzle-solving and locating specific books in the OPAC and on the shelves. Book/magazine titles were encrypted with a variety of codes (Morse, Braille, Russian, QR, reverse lettering etc.), clues leading to major locations hidden in crosswords and math/content equations, and in some more unusual sources: e-mail autoresponder, a fire extinguisher, a car parked outside of the building, or the poster you can see below. The final destination was a room with an electronic lock. Eight pieces of information scattered around the library could direct them to the right door and reveal the numeric code they needed to type.
We had 11 teams, 80+ players. In the limited time we had (less than 2 h), no team got even close to the secret room. Who won, then? Two teams with the highest score were given access to the library Special Collections for a third-kind encounter with a seventeenth-century artifact. Oh, and all participants won credits for a completed Library Use course. After all, the game had shown them all sections and departments. They would need to search OPAC, locate books on the open shelves, complete stack request slips for books, find magazines in the newspaper reading room, visit the interlibrary loans, and use oldschool microfilm readers. 

The initially-planned larp and ARG elements had been mostly dropped for lack of time, manpower and resources. We focused on puzzles, encryptions and scavenger hunt, using all kinds of library items we had available. I won't say it was a sophisticated game. Difficult it was, but pretty simple in design. Still, it worked well as a gamified training in library use. It worked great to integrate and connect new students, and get them involved in teamwork from the very first day. 

A year from now, many of them will be on the team designing the inaugural game for the next swarm of H2.0 freshmen storming our doors. 

Wanna see some pics? See here. And here
And pictures from the Photo Day, without students yet.

And one more thing. We asked all 11 teams to document their way through the game. Take photos, shoot films, make notes etc., to convert them later into a full-blown photostory.Volunteers have 10 days to complete the assignment. I can't wait to see the results. :)