Gaming the library: using game-based learning in libraries

Willie Miller discusses the use of game based learning to design innovative library instruction.

<< back Page 2 of 2

The game launched the beginning of September 2012 and concluded with a special reception for those who finished at the end of the month. We released a new video every 3-4 days until September 21st, for a total of six videos. Approximately 350 users started the game. As the difficulty of task increased over the course of the experience, fewer users continued the game. The median number of users was 70, though just 35 users completed the final game. The winner of the game received a third generation iPad.

Lessons learned

Looking back, we can be pleased with our first experience with digital game-based learning. The completion rate of 10% for The Missing Project was higher than the average completion rate of 7% for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) (Parr, 2013). The largest number of players were males ages 18-24. Users reported learning many new things about the library’s offerings and having an enjoyable, immersive experience in the process.

If we had to do it again, we would avoid the small, but potentially crushing mistakes of using vendor names (e.g., the now defunct, Meebo). Additionally, we would build more assessment into the planning, conducting usability tests of the full game before launch. In the case of the former mistake, we had to reshoot scenes weeks after principal photography.

Likewise we would have considered more thoughtfully the limitations of student work and experience. We could have could have connected our student-designers with our professional IT staff earlier for collaboration, and though compensated, our student-designers were aloof at times. However, we highly valued the products they created and the process of learning more about game design.

It would be relatively simple for anyone to create a less complex version of The Missing Project. The main tasks would be to plan the kinds of interactions or outcomes one would like to have users experience and to record the videos of those scenarios. YouTube provides many resources for creating annotations in videos, fashioning connections between videos and levels. This democratizes video game design for us all, and unleashes more potential for libraries and other educational institution to create experiences for twenty-first century learners.

 Willie Miller is Assistant Librarian at IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis, USA.

References and further reading

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., Haywood, K., New Media, C., & Educause. (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report: New Media Consortium.

Parr, C. (2013). Mooc completion rates 'below 7%': Open online courses' cohort much less massive at finish line. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from Times Higher Education website:

Rieber, L. P., Smith, L., & Noah, D. (1998). The value of serious play. Educational Technology, 38(6), 29-36.

Squire, K. (2005). Game-based learning: Present and future state of the field: Masie Center e-Learning Consortium.

Zichermann, G., & Cunningham, C. (2011). Gamification by design: Implementing game mechanics in web and mobile apps. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media


<< back Page 2 of 2