This paper describes how college students played the web-based BiblioBouts Information Literacy (IL) game, which ushers players through the library research process while they complete a research-and-writing assignment. The game teaches students basic IL skills including creating citations, judging citation completeness, assessing author expertise, assessing source relevance and credibility, judging quality, and assessing accuracy. BiblioBouts’ collaborative and social mechanisms help students leverage their own research efforts in finding sources, evaluating their usefulness, and choosing the best sources, with their classmates’ efforts so that everyone benefits. Players benefit from receiving hands-on practice and experience with the wide range of information literacy (IL) skills that confront them during the process from conducting library research to completing writing assignments. Both quantitative and qualitative game-play data were gathered from game-play logs, game diaries, focus group interviews with student game players, and personal interviews with instructors. These data were analyzed to determine typical game-play styles, how long students played the game, and the impact of scoring on the way the students played the game and engaged in IL activities. The results were used to improve game mechanics and player engagement. The R&D team’s experience building an online, interactive IL game demonstrates that game design must first focus on evaluations of player behavior followed by game-system improvements that are expected to affect the desired game-play behavior. The BiblioBouts game presents an innovative method for learning IL competencies and is unique in its social, collaborative, and interactive approach to educational gaming. It is hoped that this article will encourage IL librarians to explore games and other alternative forms of IL instruction.
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