Let’s Make a Game Out of It: Building Connections, Constructing Community, Thinking Strategically

Lauren Hays, @Lib_Lauren, Instructional and Research Librarian, Mid-America Nazarene University

Mark Hayse, PhD, Director, Honors Program, Mid-America Nazarene University

Center for Games & Learning” at Mid-America Nazarene University

Faculty and Librarian Collaboration, Relationships

IMLS Sparks Ignite Grant

“If it wasn’t for the library staff inviting me into a grant-seeking brainstorming session, this center would have never gone off the ground. The library facilitated the interaction” -Dr. Mark Hayse

Grant bought video games

Building connections

  • Build strong professional relationships with colleagues
  • Needs assessment
  • Connections bw library & teaching & learning — intersection bw role of librarians & scholarship of teaching
    • Scholarship and librarian intersection — esp critical at smaller institutions, like MNU

Constructing Community

  • Outreach to campus community — game nights at MNU Library; a lot of the faculty are gamers
  • Outreach to educational community — campus community; broader educational community, schools K-12, inservice days for teachers, sharing findings
  • Outreach to library community — conference summer of 2015; another conference/workshop, Friday July 29, 2016 will be another event on Games & Learning
  • Build a community of practice — 11 faculty letters of support for the grant; 9 became part of the cohort and used games in their classrooms. And case study happened — does games help build 21st century skills in the classroom? Still gathering data for that.
    • Community–$7500 games purchased from this grant & other sources, too — if the games sit on shelf and do no good, only by outreach are we going to be able to get people in to use the games; consistently, positively evangelize to stakeholders; it wasn’t build it & they will come; it was go out on the street

Thinking Strategically

  • University strategic plan
    • experiential learning
    • student success
    • learning outcomes
  • Library strategic plan
    • instruction
    • physical space
    • outreach
    • marketing

Grant covered 5 percent of Lauren’s time, but it was more than 5 percent of her time. Library director was supportive of work, and was supportive of the outreach efforts. A lot of balancing of schedules had to happen to keep the library running. A lot of calendar sharing and a lot of communicating. The games center outreach has taken up the most time; the other outreach is more liaison roles. The center took on a life of its own; a lot of faculty came in to help, students facilitated gameplay. Cohort got involved. Library was hospitable, coordinated, launched, and let it take off.

Why Games

  • Games are fun
  • Today’s learning want to explore new ideas socially & playfully
  • Effective learning for 21st century leadership demands expertise in skills such as communication, problem solving, flexibility, creativity, and innovation
  • Experiential learning

Some games used in classes

  • Balderdash — info lit class; definition writing & info lit skills
  • Diplomacy — history; collaboration
  • Tobago — critical thinking; communication; collaboration
  • World through the ages — semester long class taught through interpreting history in table top games; putting the cards in order; more complicated, bc you’re not on your own, if you play in twos, but many skills built: you have to think together and work together and have more fun.

The cohort was a lot of fun — to talk about what worked well; what didn’t; share ideas. Play games with the professors prior to classes, to make sure the game would work the way professor thought it would.

A lot of students’ comments and experiences related back to info lit skills, things that were being said.

Why Tabletop Games

  • More accessible than digital games
  • They have a longer lifespan than digital games
  • limited budget

Dr. Hayse dissertation on Education, Religion, and Videogames and Curriculum

Videogames are hard to facilitate in a class of 30 students… Tabletop games much easier.

We live in a highly interactive culture; games help us think more culturally and effectively. We can’t be passive recipients of information, must be active participants.

The tech doesn’t get in the way of learning

Purchasing Games

  • Recreation – popular; fun
  • Academic Support
    • Discussions w faculty or community
    • What can be played during a class setting
    • 21st century skills
    • Discipline-specific games — a history prof was already using games in a class. Reacting to the past history methodology (lots of gaming tendencies here)


  • Two week check out period
  • Count all game pieces as the games are returned — student workers responsible
  • Not available for loaning outside the system — local teachers can request
  • Games can be placed on hold
  • If a piece gets lost, can contact the company of the game, and request replacement pieces; ordered extra game pieces with grant funds; handled the same way as damaged books
  • Haven’t laminated  the boxes — not too many issues so far
  • List included in the box of all the pieces — also in the instructions

Cataloging fields

  • 245
  • 260
  • 300
  • 500
  • 508
  • 520
  • 521
  • 650
  • 655

Replacement parts ideas

  • buy set of blank cards from Amazon; photo copy what you need
  • Multi-colored 10mm cube manipulatives
  • Multi-colored poker chips
  • Pound of dice — 120 dice, multi-sided
  • 3-D printer to print replacement game pieces

Hosting Game Nights

  • Fridays, 7pm-10pm — after the library closes at 6pm
    • Done once on a diff night, and attracted a different crowd
  • Once a month
  • Averaged 50 attendees
  • Students, faculty, staff
  • Work closely with student government and residential life
  • Find those in your community that will “champion” the cause
  • Game “approved” snacks

In November, International Games Day, November 21

Quality over Quantity — numbers don’t matter as much with these nights. Students got involved and participated

Student Govt & Res Life helped market. Find those on campus who will be champions for your cause

Multiple copies of some games bought for curricular support; also been great for games night — 3 games — multiple copies.

At another library — 50 choices offered, slowed down the start. Fewer games the better the event goes.

Setting games up in advance; cart out with other options, too.

First game night — 5 copies of 5 games to be used and promoted. Unrealistic to think 5 groups of people play the same game at the same time.

2-3 copies of a game has seemed to meet the needs of the MNU community (800-900 res students)

Games in Library; Local Games Store, borrowing, to see what to purchase; Gamers Guild brings over games, too

Has anyone tried to create a new game? A couple of professors are budding game developers; Scott Nicholson, … Game building is iterative, testing. Gaming Guild. Game Jam — JCCC & JoCoLibrary & MNU social justice gaming.

Recommendations gathered by faculty & students over time

Game Design for Education — bought games too long to play; complicated. Need games that are simpler, watch out for boardgamegeek.com — index games, but watch out for the times reco

thedicetower.com – top 10 lists of games for general users

The League of Librarian Gamers Facebook group recommended

Center for Games & Learning Contact Info

  • gamesandlearning@mnu.edu
  • www.mnu.edu/games
  • 913-971-3561

Next summer’s conference will focus on the How Games in Learning