Interactive Fiction Game for Information Literacy Description
In this activity, students will play our proposed interactive fiction game built with the free software Twine (https://twinery.org/). Twine is a digital "choose your own adventure" platform where player choices lead them through different unfoldings of the plot (see figure 1).
Optimally, gameplay will occur outside of class time since it will require varying amounts of time to complete (see image example of player's view, below). Students will make specific choices regarding contrasting and/or conflicting sources of information in a science-fiction scenario set on Saturn's moon, Titan. Completing the game will not lead to a single, pre-determined success or failure, but a range of possible conclusions so that different choices can reveal different outcomes and more accurately reflect the challenges when working with information rather than true/false binaries (ACRL, 2016; Caulfield, 2017). Researchers will be able to determine what players value in terms of source credibility, in an environment where there is not necessarily a clear "correct" answer. Students will be able to play the game multiple times (see example 2 for player view of gameplay).
Faculty incorporating the game within their courses will be provided reflection/discussion prompts to use following gameplay. The game supports information literacy learning. Note: This project/material is based upon work supported by the Iowa Space Grant Consortium under NASA Award No. 80NSSC20M0107. Data collected in Spring 2021will be instrumental in helping shape the actual outcomes and assessments for the final tool.Back to Game Overview »
Context for Use
Type and level of course
The interactive fiction game is designed for use in general education science courses, which will primarily include lower-level undergraduate students.
Skills and concepts students should have mastered
Students need not have had extensive mastery of science concepts.
How the activity is situated in the course
Instructors choose to have this prototype piloted in their course as they see fit. Gameplay happens outside class time with an in-class reflective component that may include discussion questions and/or writing prompts connecting it to course/ program learning goals.
This interactive fiction activity requires students to demonstrate information literacy and rhetorical awareness as they make choices relying on provided source material within game scenarios, ideally bringing the narrative to an optimal conclusion. Game design will require players to make decisions informed by a variety of sources. For example, players will be provided with information within interpersonal, organizational, or research-based scenarios. Thus, players will be required to make choices based upon information stemming from different research sponsors, conflicting findings, dubious motives, etc. Students can replay the game multiple times to explore different choices and possible endings.
Description and Materials
Preparation Prior To Class (PIs/instructor)
- Create player and control groups.
- Ensuring technology access for students without desktop/laptop.
- Develop script to introduce the activity to students.
The Game/ Gameplay
Twine game interface, which sets up a "choose your own adventure" model in which game players make discrete choices that impact the game plot. Game goal: discovery of a new species of methane-based life.
PLOT (under development):
Players assume the role of the Protagonist, a scientist trained in the future study of Informology (draft name), the study of information and truth. On a routine mission to Titan's methane mines, instructions from a manager are clear but conclude with "I understand, given your service record, the passion and ideals you hold about justice for everyone in the solar system, but the Titan miners are not the type to align yourself if you want to advance." Whether or not player chooses to engage (a miner will attempt to engage and descriptions of banners advocating anti-Earth sentiment will be included), this will reflect on their performance via branches of the story – updates and information from boss will be relayed in game.
Player must balance conflicting motivations/exigencies and engagement threatens a "good" review. All three areas as bad means player is terminated; game over, man. With requests to engage, miners report damage to equipment and Protagonist's ship is damaged. But who did it and why? This should happen no matter what the Player chooses and delays their return to Earth, forcing them to solve the mystery while searching for hard-to-find ship components.
Resources on Titan are limited to what the company sends from Earth and a handful of products made on site, mainly 3D printed mining equipment (so no readily accessible part schematics or extra machine to devote to printing them). Deciding on the information to believe and why will be requisite to solve this puzzle.
The easiest assumption players can make is that hostile workers somehow sabotaged it, but this prevents them from discovering the methane-based lifeforms. Players can choose to strip components from mining equipment or other machines (like O2 scrubbers or water purifiers) to fix their ship and eventually leave. For example, worker conditions continue to deteriorate and the mines are forced to close after a disastrous attempt at overthrowing the executives stationed there (possible Bad Ending).
The game remains agnostic on the company and its labor force, but clearly the company discourages players from investigating its very possibility by questioning studies, producing slanted studies of their own, cherry-picking evidence, engaging in rhetorical fallacies, etc. Meanwhile, the miners are also questioning studies, using false appeals (quasi-religious?), formulating conspiracy theories, etc. Players need to balance their own employment with a search for accurate and reliable data.
Objectives thoughts: Cash money, Resource Development, Relations with life forms (human, methane-based) Maintaining "good" in all three areas doesn't lead to success. Rather, success leads to discovery of a new species of methane-based life.
Explanation of game and its connection to science education, broadly defined.
Prompts for post-game student reflection/discussion.
Assessment strategies will gauge game effectiveness as well as student learning outcomes. See this page for detailed assessment information.
Association of College & Research Libraries. (2016). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/issues/infolit/Framework_ILHE.pdf
Caulfield, M. (2017). Web Literacy for Student Factcheckers. https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/chapter/four-strategies/
Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth: Teacher knowledge for 21st century learning. Journal of digital learning in teacher education, 29(4), 127-140. https://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/JDLTE-29-4-127-Ker.pdf
Twine game examples:
- Depression Quest (Zoe Quinn): http://www.depressionquest.com/;
- Aisle (Sam Barlow): https://www.ifiction.org/games/playz.php?cat=&game=232&mode=html;
- Black Sheep: http://ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/competition2019/Black%20Sheep/Black_Sheep.html