Friday, August 7, 2009

The Nethernet

I may have gone on about this before, but I'm going to be trying an experiment in the First Year Seminar class I am co-teaching, The Study of Games. I was trying to find a way to enliven the annotated bibliography assignment that we have been giving to the students. So naturally, the first thing that came to mind was a game.

That's when I thought of The Nethernet, which was formerly known as PMOG, Passive Multiplayer Online Game. The gist of this game is that you install a firefox extension that tracks the sites you visit and allows you to interact with everyone else that has that extension. You accumulate datapoints (DPs) by surfing around, but also by finding crates that other users leave on websites. Or you might leave a crate, or a mine (which detonates when someone else visits the site, costing them datapoints). You can wear armor to protect yourself from mines, you can throw grenades, build portals and lightposts to take people to new websites, and lots of other activities.

The lightposts were the functionality I was looking for, because the game allows you to string together a set of lightposts, annotate them and call it a mission. Someone taking your mission would be led on a tour of these sites with your commentary.

So my thinking is that I will create library missions for the students to go on to learn about services, etc. I will have the students produce a number of missions, finding scholarly articles, books, websites, etc. for topics based on the class. Hopefully, this will all be much more fun and interesting (and possibly they'll learn a little bit more). Stay tuned to see how it works out.

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