Reviewed August 2014
Olivia Miller, Public Services Librarian
Jones Library, Greensboro College


The inaugural CUNY Games Festival was held on January 17-18, 2014 in New York City. Organized by the CUNY Games Network, the purpose of the festival-conference was to bring together academics, students, and game professionals from a variety of disciplines to discuss "game-based pedagogies in higher education." The conference organizers posed the following questions to be explored during the conference: "Apart from engaging college students, what real learning can happen through games? What relevance does the broader debate about gamification have to higher education? Should games be read, analyzed, or even replace texts in a course?" While the first day held presentations, discussions, and demos, the second day was dedicated to gameplay, feedback, and networking.

Individual presentations are listed for each session, however not all of them are linked to external content. Presentations with content include "Murder Mystery Challenge! Engaging First-Year Students in a Game-Based Library Investigation," "Adventures in Writing: Composition, Pedagogy, Video Games, and a lot of Questions," "Teaching Fiction Writing Using Role-Playing Games," and others.

While the festival is over and full proceedings will not be released online until late September, the website remains to preserve the experience as much as possible. This mobile optimized WordPress site is free to use and easy to navigate. The content varies from slideshows and video panels to blog posts and PDFs. The presenters used a variety of software and web services like SlideShare, Prezi, and DropBox; nothing requires an account to access the material. The "Archive" section provides material that gives users an idea of the festival-conference atmosphere. A Storify of the conference hashtag allows users to see commentary before, during, and after presentations. One attendee provided access to their Google Drive notes from each session, giving users a unique view of several presentations. A Flickr album is also included.

Screenshot from plenary panel.

Game-based learning and game design programs are on the rise across educational and cultural institutions, and libraries can reflect this by pointing to relevant resources and conferences such as the CUNY Games Festival. Many librarians are successfully creating library instruction sessions, programming, and materials with game methodology in mind. Information professionals should not overlook the CUNY Games Festival in their own professional development plans--in fact, two librarians presented a poster at the Festival about game-based library instruction. A call for papers for the 2015 CUNY Games Festival will be announced later this year.

There are many conferences focused on educational game creation, like Games+Learning+Society, Meaningful Play, NASAGA, Games for Change, and Serious Play. Hopefully, more librarians will attend!



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