May 2017 archive

Critical Reflection

I was quite nervous when I embarked upon the subject Game Based Learning (INF541) and admitted this in my introductory forum post. My trepidation was due to my limited experience and knowledge of digital games. In Blog task 1 I stated that “my personal video game history was rather historical” (Malbon, 2017, para 1) and dated back to the 1980s.

Atari 2600 flickr photo by moparx shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

My professional exposure to game based learning (GBL) was limited to observing students playing both educational games and recreational games in the school library. My aims for INF541 were to:

  • overcome my lack of knowledge and experience of GBL
  • understand the applicability of games for learning within a library setting
  • be able to confidently share my learning with my colleagues

Although I could see the potential of integrating GBL, I felt unqualified to do so. I  also had some concerns about the challenging aspects of commercial-off-the- shelf (COTS) video games. Most of my views were informed by the mainstream media who are quick to blame video games for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). I acknowledged that other teachers may share similar views as me in the blog post Social and cultural barriers and suggested strategies to overcome the negativity, barriers and tensions. One of these strategies was professional learning and I feel that I have made a good start by completing INF541 and will continue learning via my professional learning network (PLN) and the curation of my Pearltrees board on GBL.

Created by Karen Malbon

Games have their own literacy (Gee, 2012) and shared culture (Montola, 2012). I did not feel part of the culture of gaming, was unfamiliar with the language and lacked game literacy. In the blog post Learning a new language I wrote of how overwhelmed I was by acronyms and the steep learning curve to understand ludology. I created a glossary so that I could make sense of the module readings that were filled with unfamiliar language. I delved into the participatory spaces, also known as affinity spaces, where players share and create knowledge about their common interest using wikis, forums and videos (Gee, 2012). In the blog post Information behaviour I curated two Pearltrees boards to illustrate the interest driven communities for Minecraft and 80 Days. As an information professional I was impressed by information behaviour that contributed to these sites and could see parallels to information seeking in the library (Adams, 2009).

Created by Karen Malbon

The links of game mechanics, game design characteristics and game infrastructure, motivation and engagement to learning became clearer to me after playing Ingress, Spent, Free Rice and by watching walkthroughs of Minecraft, Firewatch and 80 Days. My novice journey as Agent Kleem9 with the location based multiplayer game (LBMG) Ingress was documented in the blog post Ingress. As I began to understand the mechanics of playing Ingress and received instant feedback on my actions, I became immersed in the virtual world and motivated to play, level up and contribute to the narrative. I could see educational applications of Ingress for senior students in a variety of subject areas but at the same time I was concerned about privacy and safety issues (Hulsey & Reeves, 2014). I discussed these barriers to using games in schools in the forum with Lisa Nash (Nash, 2017).

Over the last twelve weeks I have not emerged as a gamer but I have achieved my aims and become more knowledgeable about GBL. I have been exposed to research and opposing viewpoints on the pedagogy of GBL and the link games have to existing educational learning theories. I have experienced the characteristics of games that can potentially make them motivating and engaging. The social-cultural aspect of gaming and the learning that happens outside of the game through affinity spaces is really exciting and as a teacher librarian I can see opportunities for libraries and teaching that I wish to investigate further and implement. Game Over? No way,  the game it is just paused so that I can learn more with evidence based research and play.


Adams, S. S. (2009). The case for video games in libraries. Library Review, 58(3), 196-202. doi: 10.1108/00242530910942045

Bourgonjon, J., Valcke, M., Soetaert, R., de Wever, B., & Schellens, T. (2011). Parental acceptance of digital game-based learning. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1434-1444. doi:

Gee, J. P. (2012). Digital games and libraries. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 60-64.
Hulsey, N., & Reeves, J. (2014). The gift that keeps on giving: Google, ingress, and the gift of surveillance. Surveillance & Society, 12(3), 389-400. Retrieved from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from

Malbon, K. (2017, March 4). Blog task 1 [Blog post]. Retreived from

Montola, M. (2011). Social Constructionism and Ludology. Simulation & Gaming, 43(3), 300-320. doi:10.1177/1046878111422111

Nash, L. (2017, April 24). Remediation and storytelling – Play Ingress, tell your story [Online forum comment]. Retreived from


Images created by Karen Malbon contain CC0 images from Pixabay


I attempted to explore Minecraft using the iPad version and did not make much progress. My lack of game literacy was laid bare as I tapped away and tried to make sense of the game without any instructions. I felt somewhat inadequate knowing that young children all over the world knew so much more than I did about this game. I watched some tutorials but even they assumed a certain amount of knowledge. I wanted to call on my nieces for help but time was against me as work and study took up more of my time. My Minecraft lesson will have to wait a few more weeks.

The following video looks at how Minecraft can be used in education.


Social and Cultural Barriers


The negative aspects of video games have tended to dominate popular media reports over the years with video games blamed for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). Such media messages are hard for parents to ignore and are similar to the moral panic caused by the introduction of television. It is not surprising that some parents are dubious about game based learning being used in schools.

I agree with Bourgonjon (2011) that involving parents in the implementation of game based learning would be advantageous and help to address parental concerns. Strategies could include:

  • Parent information evening
  • Game workshops for parents
  • Documenting game based learning with photographs and videos and communicating them through the school’s social media channels and/or newsletters
  • Game based learning section on the school website or learning management system

Teachers may also share some negative opinions of game based learning. Strategies to overcome these could include:

  • Professional learning
  • Observing other teachers using game based learning
  • Disseminating literature and research about game based learning
  • Sharing videos of teachers in other schools using game based learning
  • Team teaching

Good communication with all members of the school community is vital when introducing any new pedagogical approach.


Bourgonjon, J., Valcke, M., Soetaert, R., de Wever, B., & Schellens, T. (2011). Parental acceptance of digital game-based learning. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1434-1444. doi:



Information Behaviour

I took up the challenge in module 4.1 to select a game from the top ten list of AAA titles and an interactive fiction game and explore the communities, networks and knowledge systems that support them. From the top ten AAA titles I chose Minecraft and the interactive fiction game I chose was 80 Days.

I am familiar with web communities in general but because I do not play digital games I had never encountered game related communities. Interest-driven sites or affinity spaces are where players go to engage further with the game (Gee, 2012). These affinity spaces include forums, wikis, cheats, videos, reviews, fan-fiction, mods and social media.

Affinity spaces offer powerful opportunities for learning, Gee argues, because they are sustained by common endeavors that bridge differences—age, class, race, gender, and educational level—and because people can participate in various ways according to their skills and interests, because they depend on peer-to-peer teaching with each participant constantly motivated to acquire new knowledge or refine their existing skills, and because they allow each participant to feel like an expert while tapping the expertise of others.  (Jenkins, Weigel, Clinton & Robinson, 2009)

I have curated two Pearltrees boards to illustrate these communities and the enormous amount of time and effort players go to to expand upon their game experience, learn more about their chosen games and help others.


Minecraft, by karenmalbon

80 Days (Interactive fiction)

80 Days, by karenmalbon

As an individual and an information professional I relate to this kind of information seeking behaviour. After I watch a film or read a book I often want to learn more and delve deeper into the themes, location and setting by reading reviews and forum postings. I am a consumer and have not become an active participant or creator by contributing to such spaces. I admire the passion that many game players have to contribute to such knowledge networks.


Gee, J. P. (2012). Digital games and libraries. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 60-64.

Henry Jenkins , R. P., Margaret Weigel, Katie Clinton, Alice Robinson. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from

Types of Gamers

I studied Psychology as part of my undergraduate degree so I was drawn to the readings on game and player types. In 1996 Bartle recognised that not all players are the same and devised a taxonomy of player types. This video explains his theory.

Retrieved from

Westwood & Griffiths (2010) describe six types of gamers and infer that they prefer certain types of games.

Created by K. Malbon

Player types serve as a guide for game designers in developing games but they can also be of use to educators. Educators need to be aware that just as students like different genres of books and movies, they may prefer certain genres of games. This has implications for game based learning because one game will not necessarily motivate or engage every student. It also highlights how difficult it is to design educational games to meet pedagogical goals. Such challenges were evident in the study by Markey & Leeder (2011) where a game was built to teach information literacy concepts.


Markey, K., & Leeder, C. (2011). Students’ behaviour playing an online information literacy game. Journal of Information Literacy, 5(2), 46-65.

Westwood, D., & Griffiths, M. D. (2010). The Role of Structural Characteristics in Video-Game Play Motivation: A Q-Methodology Study. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 13(5), 581-585. doi:10.1089/cyber.2009.0361


Chapter Proposal

When I began this subject my knowledge of game based learning was very limited. I was not an active player and was mostly oblivious to the complexities of games, gaming culture and educational use of games. I think other teacher librarians may also be in the same situation. My chapter proposal reflects my own need to learn more about game based learning in school libraries and I feel it could be of value to others in the profession too.


Title: Game based learning in secondary school libraries: Getting teacher librarians on board

School libraries are a communal space where students can read, study, research, discuss, use technology and socialise. Secondary school libraries provide access to a variety of print, digital and multimedia resources to support the curriculum and recreational needs of students and staff. Access to a range of multimodal resources promotes and develops multiliteracies (O’Connell, 2012). Traditional games have been used in school libraries for a long time and are recognised as instructional media (Elkins, 2015). Digital games have not always been embraced as enthusiastically due to negative perceptions by teacher librarians, parents and school administration however this is starting to change. Recent research on game based learning (GBL) notes the positive effects games have on learning and the promotion of twenty-first century skills (Qian & Clark, 2016). School libraries that restrict particular technology, such as digital games are at risk of alienating students that are exposed to diverse learning opportunities outside of school. Teacher librarians who are willing to learn about and incorporate GBL into the school library have the opportunity to meet the diverse learning and social needs of their students (Elkins, 2015).

Chapter Focus:

  • perception of game based learning (GBL) amongst teacher librarians
  • exploration of any negative views held about GBL
  • school libraries’ role in providing access to multimodal resources to support the curriculum and recreational needs of students and staff
  • school library as a social place
  • positive features of GBL for literacy and general capabilities (twenty-first century skills)
  • ways in which GBL could be implemented in secondary school libraries
  • barriers that may be encountered and possible suggestions for overcoming them
  • professional learning required by teacher librarians to support GBL in libraries


Elkins, A. J. (2015). LETS PLAY! Knowledge Quest, 43(5), 58-63.

O’Connell, J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: school libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, 26(1), 4-7.

Qian, M., & Clark, K. R. (2016). Game-based Learning and 21st century skills: A review of recent research. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 50-58. doi: