Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2017 Issue

“Codex Conquest” teaches Western Book History as a Board Game

Bfdcb553-02a1-4ad7-9487-1d56a00be86b

Students at the University of Iowa play test "Codex Conquest" during a 2016 class. It teaches the basics of Western book history from the 15th through 19th century as a multi-player game.

Codex Conquest is a board game using cards designed to teach European book history to audiences ranging from high school to graduate level players. It is being developed by Amy Chen, 32, special collections instruction librarian at the University of Iowa Libraries. “There's always a need for educational games because gaming helps students learn,” Chen said. “Games are just structured forms of play. You learn best when you're having fun.”

 

Her goal is “to bring special collections topics to wider audiences through Open Educational Resource (OER) card games.” OERs, she explained, “are free resources that can be used and revised by anybody. “

 

Codex Conquest can be played by audiences that would not be able to acquire the funds to pay for a game, are not close enough to a repository to come see rare materials, or need a less-intimidating introduction to key topics (“Although ideally,” she said, “it would be combined with a visit to see original items”).

 

Players assume the roles of important European countries: Spain, France, England, Italy and Germany. The object of the game is to acquire the best collections in books from the 15th through 19th centuries. The winner is the player who has created the collection with the highest point value through purchase, auction, trade and chance. In the process the players are exposed to some of the great books and events in the history of those countries.

 

Codex Conquest teaches students to recognize the canon of Western literature: its historical arc, what titles are most important, which genres were the most popular and at what times, and even how cultural and financial value are intertwined but not necessarily the same,” Chen said.

 

I really want students to learn that books and history are not independent subjects, she stressed. “Historical events don't just get summarized in books. Books contributed to how history happened. At the same time, the way history is documented in books shapes what we can remember.”

 

Chen began work on the project after a conversation with her supervisor, Greg Prickman, who told her he always wanted to develop a game about how books are made. “I loved the idea and started thinking up how to do it over the vacation. Only because my background is more in print culture than book production, I decided to focus Codex Conquest on the history of books.

 

Among the many steps in evolution of the game was “play testing,” in the form of a class she taught in 2016 for first-year honors undergraduates at Iowa (not future librarians). “In a sense, I had it easy," she said, "my students had not learned book history before, this was their first time in special collections, and most were non-humanities majors who would not be likely to find themselves in many English or History courses in the future. What I had to say to them was pretty new.

 

I did bring out original materials for students to see and browse.” she added. "We split the class in half, one half dedicated to the game and one half dedicated to the rare books. Sometimes what I brought out matched the books in the game, sometimes they were facsimiles. Occasionally I pointed to digital editions. Together, the range of materials helped us discuss what these items look like and the variety of ways we can engage with them. Personally, I think working with rare materials is important. I’m a scholar too, and you can’t have responsible scholarship without recourse to the original.

 

However, I keep in mind what a privilege it is to see rare books and manuscripts. Many classes come to Iowa from other institutions that don’t have the level of holdings that we do. I know that there are more classes that can’t make the drive. So while I honor the physical object, and at no point do I think my game replaces working with rare and unique materials, we have to recognize it isn’t always possible to provide a hands-on experience.”

 

Chen said that what her students liked about the experience “was the opportunity to tell me everything they didn’t like! I pitched my class to them as a game development course. I’d teach them book history, and they’d teach me how I needed to improve Codex Conquest to achieve that objective.”  

 

The thirteen members of her class wrote weekly blog posts where they critiqued all aspects of the game “….. from which countries I included to how well I balanced the credits.” To read the student and instructors blogs with individual feedback see the index from the course website:  codexconquest2016fall.wordpress.com/.

 

Other "play testing" came from Stephen Jacobs, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Interactive Games and Media, who conducted an evaluation in September 2016. His comments can also be found on the blog site. She also credited Serin Sulentic, an art instructor at IU and her students with the physical design of the game.

 

In April 2017 Chen traveled to New York to host game sessions at Columbia University and see Codex Conquest’s first adaptation, Codex Conquest: Jewish History, created by Michelle Chesner, the Norman E. Alexander Librarian for Jewish Studies.

 

Michelle and I drew a wide range of participants from across New York City and the surrounding areas. Those attending came from Columbia, Barnard College, New York University, Yeshiva University, Smith College, and the University of Pennsylvania. The feedback was positive—people were excited to think about how games can depict book history. Of course, everyone had lots of suggestions for improvements and expansion packs!”

 

Chen said that Chesner “transformed the game by changing out the history and book cards and adding a few additional chance cards to reflect Judaism’s print culture. I learned so much from her when I saw the game in action. She was teaching me as we played! I’m amazed by how in just a few months, she was not only able to revise the game entirely, but also begin reaching out to her community to think about how to use it in K-12 schools.”

 

As a librarian, I find it essential that we think flexibly about how to generate more affordable access to education, whether that means free textbooks or crowd-sourced curricula. I did not develop this game as a commodity that can be bought in a store because that would limit who could use it. By putting it on the web for free, I hope more students can benefit from my work. Plus, when others modify my game, they can expand its content in ways beyond what I am capable of, which I find rewarding to watch.

 

The best way to learn how to play is in person. I can explain the game in about five minutes and I’ve found people catch on quickly. All the play tests I ran helped me to figure out the best way to communicate the game’s structure and objectives, but I only really nailed how to do this easily in the past month when I took the game to Kyle Triplett’s class at Pratt and to Adam Hooks’ class at Iowa.

 

However, I revised the rules many times to make them as simple as possible. In fact, I took out many facets of the game that increased its complexity to achieve this objective.

 

Right now, I’m not set up to provide copies of the game for payment as it is meant to be a free open educational resource. I do have copies circulating, however, and if you contact me I can get a printed copy mailed to you after it has been played at another institution.”

 

Contact information:

Amy Chen

Special Collections

100 Main Library

125 West Washington Street

Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420

Email: Amy-chen@uiowa.edu

Telephone (310) 335-5870



Useful links for Codex Conquest

Codex Conquest the Game of book history : codexconquest.lib.uiowa.edu/  ·        

Class: codexconquest2016fall.wordpress.com/  ·     

Original Game Hashtag: #codexconquest  ·        

Jewish History Game Hashtag: #codexconquestJE    



Open Educational Resources Wiki:  

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_educational_resources

.

Play Codex Conquest at RBMS Meeting June 20 at University of Iowa

June 20-23, 2017 Rare Books and Manuscript Section(RBMS) of the ALA meets this year at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  ( conference.rbms.info/2017/ ) Those attending can play Codex Conquest  on Tues., June 20th, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm in the UI Library Special Collections Classroom. conference.rbms.info/2017/program/

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> LAUTRÉAMONT. <i>Les Chants de Maldoror.</i> 1869. First edition, unbound, one of the rare copies dated 1869. €100 000 to €150 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> PAUL VERLAINE. Poème saturnien. March 31st -June 1st, 1885. Autograph poem signed and illustrated. €12 000 to €15 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ. <i>L’Après-midi d’un faune.</i> 1876. Inscribed to Paul Gauguin. €30 000 to €40 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. <i>[La Cloche fêlée,</i> 1851–1855.] Signed autograph manuscript of one of the poems of Les Fleurs du mal. €25 000 to<br>€35 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ. <i>Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe.</i> Circa 1889. Signed autograph manuscript inscribed to Edmund Gosse. €40 000 to €60 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> GÉRARD DE NERVAL. Manuscrit autographe. 1855. Rare manuscript fragment of Aurelia with corrections. €20 000 to €30 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> PAUL VERLAINE. <i>La Bonne chanson.</i> 1870. First edition. One of 20 copies on Hollande paper in a mosaic binding by Noulhac. €15 000 to<br>€18 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> ARTHUR RIMBAUD. Autograph letter to his sister, July 10, 1891. One of the most beautiful letters by Rimbaud, about his last moments, illustrated with drawings of his leg. €80 000 to €100 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> GUSTAVE FLAUBERT. <i>Salammbô.</i> 1863. First edition. One of 25 copies on Hollande paper, this one inscribed to Théophile Gautier. €30 000 to<br>€40 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. <i>Les Fleurs du mal</i>. 1857. First edition, unbound.<br>€15 000 to €20 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. Barbey d’Aurevilly caricature. Original drawing (208 x 130 mm). 1865.<br>€20 000 to €30 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> OSCAR WILDE. <i>The Ballad of Reading Goal by C.3.3.</i> 1898 First edition, publisher’s binding, one of 30 on Japan paper. €10 000 to €12 000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions