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Digital games in academic libraries: a review of games and suggested best practices

Mary J. Snyder Broussard (Snowden Library, Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 10 February 2012




The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of available online library games and offer six suggestions for best practices based on the available games.


The paper presents a thorough review of the literature on online games in libraries as well as an analysis of the games freely available online. Further information from some game designers was sought by e‐mail as needed to enhance the published literature.


A total of 17 online library games have been mentioned in the literature, 11 of which are at least partially available online. They vary greatly in type of game, technical sophistication, cost of development, and visual appeal. Some have been successful (designers report being satisfied), some have been less successful, and some have been abandoned before completion. Suggestions for development of future games include keeping it simple; having a plan to use it in class or market to faculty; “gating” key concepts; making it fun; giving feedback; and play testing throughout the development process.


While previous articles have mentioned three or four online games in libraries, no one has attempted to make a comprehensive overview or to suggest similarities among what has worked well in these projects. Analyzing the key traits of the more successful games will help librarians develop games in the future.



Snyder Broussard, M.J. (2012), "Digital games in academic libraries: a review of games and suggested best practices", Reference Services Review, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 75-89.



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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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