Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can books play games?

I’ve been enjoying reading a book about video, computer, and alternate reality gaming called Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal. I saw her by chance on a segment of a show that plays with the notion of what is news, The Colbert Report (you have to watch a silly ad first, sorry):

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jane McGonigal
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

There are many concepts she discusses that could be incorporated directly into a book or story app or be a part of the extended world around one (e.g. via an author’s web site). My monthly post on I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) goes into more detail about it: Playing games with information.

A few of the interactive, gamelike ideas that would be fun to add to my books include: 
Layered images so readers could see under the surface of something
Changing images to show sequence over time (e.g. metamorphosis)
Non-linear paths through a book
Interactive timeline with pop-up elements

Pop-up word definitions
Audio feedback to let readers know they’ve found right answer, etc.

I would love to hear how authors or educators are tapping into the techniques of game design to engage readers, please let me know of any cool ideas.

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