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National Leadership Grant from IMLS to make an ARG toolkit

Scott Nicholson from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University is the PI for a recently awarded grant designed to make an alternate reality game toolkit for academic libraries.   Dr. Nicholson, director of the Because Play Matters game lab, will be working with The Education Arcade from MIT and Jenny Levine from the American Library Association on the project over the next 18 months.


Here's the offical award announcement:

Syracuse University, School of Information Studies - Syracuse, NY
Congressional District: NY_25
Award Amount: $150,000; Matching Amount: $51,895
Category: Demonstration

Contact: Scott Nicholson

Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies will partner with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Education Arcade and the American Library Association to plan, develop, and test an Alternate Reality Game Toolkit that could be used by libraries to create engaging game-based learning exercises. The toolkit’s framework will permit libraries to insert their own local content and resources and customize the game experience and learning objectives to meet their own local needs without having to build the entire educational game from the ground up. The project will focus initially on academic libraries and functionality that best supports educators and students at the college undergraduate level, but future work may extend to other types of libraries and target audiences.


Presentation - Because Play Matters: A Journey Into Transformative Games and Meaningful Gamification

During the 2011-2012 academic year, Dr. Scott Nicholson, iSchool faculty, was a visiting professor in Comparative Media Studies MIT.  He worked with two game labs and lived in the undergraduate dorms to expand his knowledge of game creation, game studies, and the creation of playful spaces.

Join Dr. Nicholson on September 14, 2-3pm, in Hinds 347 for a light-hearted presentation about his sabbatical experiences and his journey from a focus on board games and libraries to his new areas of focus on transformative games and play in informal learning environments and meaningful gamification.

Edit - 

The talk is now online, and you can watch it below:



Later that day, at 5:30pm in the same room, Dr. Nicholson will be convening the first meeting of the Game Designers’ Guild, which is a group for students, faculty, and members of the community interested in creating games of all types.  More information about the Game Designers' Guild is at

Both events are open to the public (visitor parking information).


BLAP Gamification

As I've been talking more about gamification, I found that I needed a term for gamification that focused on points, levels, achievements, and badges.   Playing with the first letters of these concepts led me to coin the term BLAP gamification:






The term "BLAP gamification" also provides a good mental image of what happens when a gamification consultant takes a structure of points, levels, badges, and achievements and drops it down on a non-gaming context:  BLAP!

I've used the term as the base of an introduction to gamification post that I made on the TL-DR blog where I am a guest author, and you can see that post at

BLAP: You have gained +1 in Gamification!


Article on Recreational Gaming in Libraries

For the Illinois Library Association reporter, I wrote a short piece on recreational gaming in libraries.  You can read it here:



Recent conference talks online & ALA

Two of my recent conference talks are now available online.

My presentation about my theoretical framework for meaningful gamification, presented at Games + Learning + Society 8.0, is available at

My presentation from the Games for Change Festival on opportunities for game developers to get involved in libraries is available at


If you are going to the American Library Association annual conference, you can find me at three events:

Time TitleTypeLocation

FRIDAY, JUNE 22 - 7:00PM

7:30pm - 10:00pm   
ALAplay Social event Anaheim Marriott
Marquis Northeast


8:00am - 10:00am 
Grown Ups Just Want to Have Fun! Library Play Programming for College Students of All Ages Program Anaheim Convention Center


10:30am - 12:00pm 
Games and Gaming Forum (GameRT): Interactive Fiction Forum/Update,Program Anaheim Convention Center