So as you might have picked up by now, I’m part of the faculty at Old Dominion University. Imagine my surprise to discover that Matt Jabaily, Education Reference Librarian, is running a multiplayer Minecraft server that acts as an introduction to the new library extension! If you aren’t familiar with Minecraft, it is an indie game runaway hit in which players can manipulate everything about their environment, one block at a time, with a sort of zombie survival aesthetic; you must carefully explore your environment and build a shelter to survive the zombie wave that comes out at night. Here’s a description of the library’s version:
Monsters have attacked the Learning Commons, and only you can save it! Destroy the invading mobs and light up the library to keep more from spawning. As you do, you’ll learn more about the resources and services available at the Learning Commons, finding weapons, armor, and rewards as you explore. Play alone or with friends live on the server (IP: 184.108.40.206:25607) or request the single player download to modify and play the game according to your desire (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Each area of this new part of our library is represented in Minecraft for students to explore and learn – plus zombies! The zombie extension is a special Halloween-inspired version that will be retired on November 18, at which point the server will revert to an ordinary library again. So your time is short to try it out!
I don’t think defeating zombies is necessarily related to any vital library skills, but perhaps it will motivate students to try investigate aspects of the library they otherwise would not have. The requirement to own Minecraft (which is not university-provided – although it should be!) is certainly a barrier to student adoption.
So will this be more effective at getting students to learn about new library resources than anything else? Who knows? At the very least, it sure is a fun way to try.