Zimm: The Game is an augmented reality (AR), location-based game. Our location is the UNM Zimmerman library, which is commonly referred to as Zimm by those who work in the library. The game immerses the player in exploring the physical world and the virtual game world. Games can provide motivation for students, but educational games often fail to accomplish this vision because they lack a number of elements of successful games, such as narratives, or the game mechanics are simple or poorly connected to the content. This issue of ineffective gamification has been called “chocolate-covered broccoli.” We avoid this issue by including narrative and role-play, interactive elements, and an immersive quality and sense of surprise. Zimmerman Library has mysteries about ghost librarians. Zimm: The Game is based on this scenario, engaging students as players exploring the library and getting familiar with library resources. In the game, made using the open source platform ARIS (https://arisgames.org/), players use many features, including location-based bluetooth beacon triggers, a QR code scanner and an AR image detector to help the librarians to solve the evil ghost problem.
Zimm: The Game was designed and launched Spring 2017, but we hope to keep the game evolving and growing.
Why a game?
Lots of reasons.
People like them
Chris knows how to make them, and more importantly, knows how to facilitate game design with non-gamers
My students want to make games. Some of them, like Yang, also want to get experience with other platforms
It seemed like a way to bring people together
Why a Ghostbusters game?
Also many reasons.
While the original movie is still one I love, the 2016 version gave me a chance to envision myself in it
The library is full of ghost stories, if not actual ghosts.
It is an easy story to plug other stories into
What else served as precedent for Zimm: The Game?
We had several brainstorming sessions, attended by various people, both associated with the library and not.
Story based on the tower
Tower game as limited time window game-have to complete other things first
Include books in other languages, and players have to get translation
Children’s literature—picture books—take pictures posing like a character
Dinosaur ghosts : the mystery of Coelophysis- print some fossils
Zimm West wing—a good place to include
Mission: Ask librarian how they work
Center for Southwest Research- What could you learn here? (make a mission that can be used for various topics?)
Card catalog stuff?
What did it feel like to be Native American or Latinx in this library 100 years ago?
Gather stories from south west
Murals—layer perspectives. Why was it created, what it means now.
All of the vigas, etc. were created by tradespeople. Their ghosts could talk to us
How does changing the mural change how you feel in the space?
Story of the building - generations of people coming to it, it was planned to expand east (which it did)
There are tunnels, abandoned furniture, weird stuff- rocks, knives….
Service desk moved- west wing is preserved- desks in original places, but no services there
Willard room was a late night reading room.
Turn old photos into moving images, like the Harry Potter images, Make things come alive
The horrible carpet, stains of unknown origin - ghosts did it
West Wing vs. East Wing
Alt-fact: the lobo statues
Use the languages in the stairwell
The DNA book sculpture
Fires/disasters—tread lightly—trauma here
The carpet has stories. Shame game! (fundraising!)
Winchester Mystery House
Accordion Crimes—make the library the main character
Choose your own adventure book
Someone trapped in tower?
Book monsters steal knowledge. They tell two lies and one truth (two alt-facts?) and you have to figure out the actual fact to “rescue” it. Compare sources- which is reliable? Different points of view- find multiple points of view on a story/history Could do a Disney-style story (check children’s lit on 3rd floor)- surprise ending- secret lab in tower where princess does research!
After several brainstorming sessions, we had many ideas—too many, and an ambitious, complex, incoherent storyline. Chris encouraged us to just make something simple as a place to start, then add on from there. Cindy Pierard took us on a tour of the famed tower, which provided a lot of inspiration. Chris also wanted to try out bluetooth beacon integration with ARIS, and was not sure how easy it would be. He got it working, and Yang and I came up with a storyline that seemed feasible. We refined it quite a bit based on two rounds of playtesting (both recorded using GoPro head mounts, and one with me dressed as Holtzmann!). Chris and Yang did all the technical design while I worked on my PKE meter.
I really wanted to poke at the mural, given its controversial status. The Three Peoples mural was called out by Red Nation for its racist depiction of Native Americans and Latinx peoples. But amidst concerns over censorship, at the time of writing this, there has been little public response from the library. So the mural called out to me. And in particular, as a White woman, I felt safe poking at the third panel, which depicts three White adults, a man dressed as a doctor, holding a large White baby, and two scientists (including a woman!) in lab coats peering into their apparatuses.
It was my husband's idea to photoshop out the baby and the apparatuses, but Yang did the actual work, which I think is pretty compelling. Instead of looking industrious, they look despondent. Such a small removal, yet such a profound change.
We go live in less that a week, but at the time of writing this, the credits for the game go to: