Playing video games: learning and information literacy

Sabina Gumulak (Doncaster Libraries, Doncaster, UK)
Sheila Webber (Information School, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Publication date: 22 March 2011



This paper aims to identify what motivates young people to play video games, and the extent to which video games are perceived as facilitating learning and information literacy.


The study adopted a qualitative approach, interviewing a convenience sample of 28 young people who enjoy playing video games. They were aged between 12 and 19, and all resident in Northern England. The interview transcripts were analysed thematically.


Entertainment and challenge were key reasons for playing video games. Of the respondents 89 per cent said they had learned something from gaming, including skills with real‐world application. Respondents used a variety of texts to solve gaming problems and to choose new games. Analysis of respondents' reported information behaviour showed that they were carrying out activities (e.g. searching, evaluating) that corresponded to models of information literacy, and these activities are mapped to the SCONUL Seven Pillars model. The interviewees showed determination in working out game problems and puzzles, rather than opting straight for an easy solution.

Practical implications

Librarians and other educators should design information literacy games, which challenge learners, using a problem‐solving approach. They also need to take account of learners' varying preferences for game genres.


There have been relatively few empirical studies into information literacy in videogaming (the focus is more usually on digital literacy, or literacy in reading and interpreting text). The paper identifies gamer preferences and behaviours that should influence design of information literacy games, and extend the information literacy model to include an attitudinal focus, fostering persistence and determination to solve information problems.



Gumulak, S. and Webber, S. (2011), "Playing video games: learning and information literacy", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 63 No. 2/3, pp. 241-255.

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