OK - well this was always going to be interesting (to me anyway) but I feared it might not live up to my expectations, which, by the time I got there were pretty high. Right, let me start by getting the logistics out of the way - Trinity is a small liberal arts university (2,400 students with an intake of approx 660 per year), it is a residential university and it is mandatory that all students live on campus for at least 3 years. The idea was to provide a fun way for students to get a feel for the way the library works and the resources/facilities available.
btw, I really like this definition for ARG - Alternate Reality Gaming is, according to CNET "...an obsession-inspiring genre that blends real-life treasure hunting, interactive storytelling, video games and online community..." (http://www.argn.com/what.html)
The ARG is called "Blood on the Stacks" and this is the second year it runs. This is another one of those "not sure I can do it justice" posts -but for different reasons. I really wanted to link to the start off video but the link won't stream, so I might need to save that little excitement for another day. Anyway, basically all incoming students were sent an email with a link to the video, Resident Mentors put up flyers in the dorms and the general orientation mentioned it. Based on groupwork (led by their RMs) the students had a couple of hours (in a 2 day window) to look for a series of clues on a "mystery pathway" and figure out who has stolen to Egyptian artifact, needing to cover a range of library resources/services incl - book stock, online resources, tutorials on how to use library, study help, information commons, printing etc - this was sometimes in small groups (2-4 people) other times in full "RM groups" (18 people). Once main challenge completed the groups could stay and do some optional questions for more points (of the 39 groups, 31 groups stayed behind for approx another hour to do more research. Prize was some money (to the RM group) to be spend on a team mini-break during mid-terms (still reinforcing importance of team).
Immersive - physical/digital, fiction/reality, learning/competition
Integrated - RMs as characters, additional media training
Info literate - orientation to resources - applications and behaviours not just resources.
This game was not intended to be "the whole library orientation" - not about how to use every aspect but to create a "mental model" - there is a formal, course specific engagement early in the semester - anecdotally the library and support staff reported feedback from students of feeling more familiar, less alien in the environment, the library was associated with fun and the staff were more approachable.