The title of this entry is a bit of a misnomer. The Library of Congress hasn’t put out a video game, although it would be fantastic to have an LOC board game; rather, they have released an iPhone app. The application is a virtual tour of the library, taking adventurers into the deep and mystic rooms of knowledge and history. The application is optimized for the iPhone 4, containing rich graphics, sounds, and interface structures. In short, a free must download app.
I decided to tackle the app in the most rigorous testing regime I know, as a video game. Here’s the opening scene:
The LOC is epic and luckily the app serves as a Virgil, casting light onto a certain path. After reading the opening scene I knew this journey was not for the weak of heart. Thusly, I finished my sandwich, braced myself, and tapped “explore”. Without hesitation the game was afoot! Gracing my screen was a list of levels, luckily I didn’t have to unlock them- I could travel wherever I wished:
I’m no fan of spoilers or jumping ahead, so the main reading room was the only place to start. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t craving excitement or adventure, as it so happened, I had found it:
The initial screen contained a detailed history and description of the Main Reading Room/ Level 1. The beginning textual mission could have been better displayed if the font were adjustable, as it stands its hard to get a paragraph onto one screen and it becomes difficult to visualize. However, this is quickly remedied by the audio mission.
Sheridan Harvey gives life to the Main Reading Room and engages my imagination. She calls the Main Reading Room the “living heart of the library” and she truly makes The LOC an inviting place, as anyone 16 or older with a valid ID can use the space and materials. She would be perfect for audio books too! After my encounter with Librarian Sheridan the game had me. I was ready for the next mission: photos!
The text and audio description prepared me for a battle with living statues. These high quality images put me in The LOC, feeling the DC sunshine light up the room and bask me in a fountain of olden days. It’s easy to click onto each image, zoom in and out, and learn.
The last mission, link, is exactly what is sounds like: related links to supplemental information. How often do we go to presentations, read an article, or visit a blog with related links? It’s great to have but I bet dirt to donuts that the percentage of actual related links clicks is less than 10%. This mission didn’t challenge me as the others before it had. Yet, minus related links, The LOC app/virtual tour left me pleased to have spent a portion of my lunch break wandering the Main Reading Room, listening to Sheridan’s tales, and mingling with greatness of past times. I look forward to the next levels and expect the same captivating lessons.