Morisset Library’s Media Centre now has games. Photo: Marta Kierkus.
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Library media centre’s new game library a step in learning culture

The University of Ottawa’s Morisset Library got some new additions earlier this March—but you can’t read them. You can, however, play them.

Morisset library now carries board games and video games—including cards against humanity, Super Mario Bros, and Minecraft.

But it’s not necessarily just for fun. It turns out these games could have a variety of real benefits for students as well.

Kelsey Schmitz, an education content specialist at Montreal educational game company Learning Bird who has a PhD in Education from the U of O, researches how people who play games, particularly video games, develop a “learning culture and digital identity.”

Schmitz said that the idea of using games, especially video games, in education has been gaining traction. “I think a lot of universities have explored the notion of adult social media and games,” she said.

Schmitz said that many universities have started looking into virtual classrooms, and the “gamification” of education—which she describes as “a rewards-based system with challenges and quests,” to help students learn better.

While these methods are becoming popular, Schmitz said that simply letting students take games out of the library is still not common practice among universities. “It’s not a mainstream thing,” she said, although she said it could be a valuable asset to campus life.

“Once you start establishing a culture where researchers and professors can access materials (like video games), you really start to encourage types of teaching that think differently,” she said.

Schmitz said universities can benefit from this change in thinking.

“There was a time where film or online courses was never something that was the norm, or something that you were comfortable with,” she said. “It’s my hope and my belief that video games are just another piece of media and culture.”

Schmitz also said that, on the individual level, when a student takes a game out of the library the possibilities are great.

“You don’t know what they’re going to do with that game. They could play it—they could also write poetry based on that game,” she said. “That resource at the library isn’t just a weekend thing for your students to do, it’s a cultural object that those students are going to engage with, and it’s also something that the professors at (the U of O) can use to engage with their students.”

According to Schmitz, the trend of using games in a variety of ways to improve education is only going to continue.

“While we bring this kind of culture into our classrooms, games will be seen as these tools, these objects of learning, they’ll replace textbooks,” she said. “The digital is nigh.”

The full list of games available at Morisset Library can be found here.