Serious Gaming: Creating a Research Data Management Adventure


Alexander Ball and Samuel Simango (2018), ‘Serious Gaming: Creating a Research Data Management Adventure’, in 15th Stellenbosch University Library Symposium: "Smarter Libraries: User Experience (UX) in Action", Stellenbosch Institute for Advance Studies, South Africa, 15–16 November 2018.

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Faced with Research Data Management (RDM) requirements for the first time, it is all too easy for researchers to interpret them as another administrative barrier to completing their research. Advocacy is needed to convince them that RDM deals with genuine issues, and that addressing them brings tangible benefits to the researchers themselves as well as the wider academic community. Librarians at the University of Bath and Stellenbosch University are collaborating on a serious game aimed at doctoral research students that will introduce a variety of RDM topics and demonstrate the possible consequences of good and poor practice. It takes the form of a text adventure, a form of interactive fiction used by early computer games such as Colossal Cave and Zork, and made popular in print by book series such as Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy. In the current game, the player takes the role of an early career researcher to whom RDM has been delegated by the principal investigator of a project. The player progresses through the RDM lifecycle from writing a Data Management Plan to publishing data underlying a journal article, encountering various challenges and setbacks on the way. As well as the narrative feedback for the player’s actions, the game awards more points for better practice, and terminates early after particularly poor choices. The game will be used to introduce students to the range of RDM activities, advocate the need for RDM, and allow students to self-assess their understanding.


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