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Syracuse iSchool Prof. Scott Nicholson shares expertise at Hogeschool van Amsterdam's International Game Week

Scott Nicholson, associate professor and director of the School of Information Studies’ M.S. in Library and Information Science program, is used to taking his Library Game Lab on the road. However, Nicholson recently took his knowledge of gaming a bit farther than usual – to Amsterdam.

Nicholson’s trip was part of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam’s International Game Week; a program of the game design and game technology minors in the information technology department of the school. The two game minors are designed to give information technology students more specialized training and a narrower focus toward a specific field of employment. International Game Week features guest speakers from many countries as well as seminars, workshops, and lectures.

Nicholson participated in the Games Can Change project. This project was designed to open up the educational and instructional aspects of gaming – a field where Nicholson has had much experience. One of Nicholson’s primary research areas is the intersection of gaming and libraries. He created the Library Game Lab of Syracuse in order to further study the role of gaming in libraries and to introduce local libraries to the benefits of gaming. He and a group of student volunteers also give game demonstrations and presentations to library staff at conferences and workshops.

In the Games Can Change project in Amsterdam, Nicholson was in charge of leading 20 students to create an educational game in five days. The purpose of the game would be to teach library users how to use services at the Amsterdam Public Library (OBA). “Students created an alternate reality game for 12-16 year olds to help them see all relevant parts of the physical library, as well as learn about some of the databases,” Nicholson said.

“I met the students on a Monday morning and gave them a lecture on Alternate Reality Games and Locative games to set the stage,” said Nicholson in a blog post about his experience. He then led the students to the library and allowed them to get to work creating their games. The students took charge of their game projects, but turned to Nicholson for guidance or with questions. Nicholson noted that most students used a mystery theme in their games and that the games used a combination of digital and analog elements.

One of Nicholson’s student teams created a game involving an alien trapped in the library. This game won the people’s choice award at the final game fair, and the team was invited to present its work at an upcoming U Play U Learn conference. Another of his teams developed a story about a missing book and created a well-thought-out series of games to lead the player toward solving the mystery.

Nicholson also gave several lectures during his time in Amsterdam, including an overview of the past, present, and future of games in libraries and a gaming lecture to a youth and media class.

To read more about the Library Game Lab, as well as Nicholson’s time in Amsterdam, visit his blog at http://gamelab.syr.edu/.

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