Since its grand opening in February 2014, the Orange County Library System’s (OCLS) Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation, and Creativity has offered patrons access to high-tech tools ranging from 3-D printers to flight simulators. In the past year and a half, the center, located in the library’s central branch in Orlando, FL, has become a locus of creativity within the community, helping patrons connect and collaborate with others who share their interests. Ormilla Vengersammy, Melrose Center manager and Technology and Education Department Head for OCLS, described the center’s growing video game design program as one such example.
The Purposeful Gaming and BHL project recently launched its first two browser-based video games, Smorball and Beanstalk. Both are designed to offer players a fun online diversion while helping the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) enable full-text searching of digitized materials. Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which was awarded in December 2013, the project is exploring how games might be used to entice people to participate in crowdsourcing efforts at libraries and museums.
“You hear a lot about gaming and engaging kids in STEM subjects, says teacher Jason Sellers. “So, I wondered, what does gaming look like in English?” Sellers, a teacher at the French American International School in San Francisco, found out, basing a classroom lesson in Playfic, an online community where users write, share, and play games using Inform 7, a programming system for creating interactive fiction based on natural language.
Andrea Buchanan’s young adult novel Gift was the first to incorporate Minecraft. What’s that you say? The creative game, in which users build stuff out of cubes within a 3-D environment, deserves a closer look. YA librarian Erin Daly offers an expert’s view of the Minecraft element in Gift and how well the sandbox game worked as an element within a novel.