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Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Global Gossip prep work

I'd like to introduce the Committee to Phil Minchin, our newest member of the IGD12 planning group. Phil is responsible for Australia's enthusiasm for NGD/IGD, and he's working to expand participation there. He has also proposed several great ideas for IGD activities, including the Global Gossip game.

I've added him to our Connect space so that he can share his ideas and we can all start planning this activity since we need to begin preparations for it. We probably need to start emailing instructions to participants and posting them to the IGD site within the next couple of weeks to make this work, so let's have at it!


Phil Minchin (non-member)'s picture

Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay in replying - I'm on a week's leave and my net access is spotty. And sorry if this arrives twice but the first attempt appears to have bounced...

Here's a repeat of what I wrote earlier:

Global Gossip game task list:

· Put together a list by time/timezone of library services participating
· Work out where the gaps are and how to plug them (a potential recruiting tool)
· Work out what central repository we'll be using to track the phrase as it changes and then publish the list once it's all over. A blog? Is there some way we can log SMSes?
· Possibly work out who will oversee the game over its 24-ish hours and make sure it keeps moving
· Come up with a starting phrase. (Pro library/game slogan? Random nonsense phrase, like a B-grade spy code?)
· Come up with how the game will work locally. Do we have some sort of lanyard or sash that identifies the current phrase-bearer and invites people to take the phrase from them?
· Make decisions about translating the phrase out of English – logistically, we can probably get away with not doing this, but personally I'd prefer it if we did allow the phrase to change languages
I’m happy to draw up some suggestions for the game mechanics, and even do some graphic design, but I have no ability to contribute to implementing the technical side. What resources are available from you guys?


Diane Robson's picture

I think this is doable.  Kristin and I have a list of the participating libraries and I can get my graduate assistant to start hunting down time zones today. I'm not sure about any of the technical issues. Someone else needs to do that part.

Once I get the timezones done (today), we will move to the next part.


Phil Minchin (non-member)'s picture

Great! Thanks so much Diane.

This is probably obvious, but better redundant than missed:
Bear in mind we don't need a library in every time zone per se. What we need is a library in every hour. So the events in Melbourne, Australia will start at 10 am AEDT (AEDT is UTC+11, so in UTC this would be 11pm the night before), but we have four participating libraries here, so we can very easily keep the game in Australia until 2pm AEDT (=3am UTC). I'd be aiming to have each library have the game for an hour, or half an hour if we had lots of interest.

With luck, if we have Hawaiian or Pacific libraries that go until 5pm local time (which would be ~3am the following day in UTC), we will be able to have the game running for over 24 hours.

Does anyone else in the group have the technical expertise we need? I can cobble together something semi-low-tech (something like the library staff at each library log their entries and then post them to a blog somewhere after handing off to the next library), but it would be ideal if we could find some sort of system that could log SMS text messages sent to a single number. My preference for SMS is because pretty much everyone who is likely to be in a library in most parts of the world now has access to a device that can send SMS, and if they don't library staff can hopefully send on their behalf. Even Twitter doesn't have the adoption rate of mobile phones.

Only 4 more weeks! Huzzah!


Darla Gutierrez's picture


Do you think it's possible for us to use a combination of sms and a blog? I was thinking about whether the idea of sharing phone numbers would put some participants off, and also whether messaging charges would come into play (particularly for that one number all the messages are coming in to?). Also, if we're going to do this, we need to do a mailing to the participating libraries and find out who actually intends to participate in the game (unless this has been done and I missed it). I can start pushing it on the facebook page as well. 

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

I included a question in the registration form asking if the library would be interested in participating in the Global Gossip game, so we have a baseline number of participants (I haven't looked to see what that number is yet).


Diane Robson's picture

Here is a list one of my students created:

  • All your base are belong to us
  • do a barrell roll
  • attack its weak point for massive damage
  • finigh the fight
  • I feel just like a purple pikmin

Is this the type of thing you needed? These are all video game related. I don't have any boardgame ideas.


Phil Minchin (non-member)'s picture

Hee, I like them.

Anyone else have any more to throw in the mix? This is actually the least urgent part of the game to finalise, so feel free to throw in more ideas!


Kristin Boyett's picture

because I'm a CLUE addict...

The murderer is Miss Scarlet, in the Lounge, with the Revolver!

Diane Robson's picture

Here is the spreadsheet with timezones. If we need something else let me know, I have someone that can work on it.



Phil Minchin (non-member)'s picture

Thanks Diane, you're a champion.

It looks like we have reasonable coverage if we can get a decent conversion rate of "Maybe"s to "Yes"es outside Oz and North America. To do that, we'll need to have a solid set of instructions etc for people to sign up for. I'll get organised on writing those up more formally, but here's the gist:

  • When you confirm your participation, you will be allocated a time, a Sending Library, and a Receiving Library. The Sending Library will be the one that has the Secret Phrase before you and contacts you to tell you what it is.

    The Receiving Library will be the library that has the Secret Phrase after you. You will be expected to contact them and tell them what the phrase has turned into during your round of the game.
    You will be given contact details for both libraries, as well as for a central backup contact in case you can't get hold of either library.
  • To prepare, print out the "Ask Me My Secret" sign and put it in a lanyard. The current holder of the Secret Phrase (the "Secret Keeper") will wear the lanyard to invite people to receive the Secret Phrase from them. Also have handy some notepaper to note down the phrase as it changes. You can print out and use the provided template, but plain paper will do - all you need to do is write down the phrase as it changes. (If you can do this directly onto a computer, so much the better, as you will be posting the phrase online when  you are done and it will save you retyping your notes.)
  • On the day, at the time allocated to your library, you will be contacted by your Sending Library with the Secret Phrase (or rather what it has turned into by the time everyone before you has finished). Write it down on your log and tell it to the first player as you give them the lanyard.
  • As new players come and request the lanyard from the current Secret Keeper, they are to follow the instructions on the lanyard - essentially, they will come and find the library staff member who is supervising the game; the staff member will explain the rules of the Secret (see below); the old Secret Keeper is to whisper the phrase into the new Secret Keeper's ear, and then leave; and the new Secret Keeper is to tell you what they heard. Log the new phrase.
  • NOTE: there are some rules about the Secret Phrase. First, it will not contain swear words or other offensive language. Second, it will not use discriminatory language, whether that be epithets of racial, sexual or other vilification, using potentially neutral words like "girly", "gay" or "lame" in any derogatory sense, or anything else. If the phrase the new Secret Keeper reveals breaks either of these rules, consult with them to work out what they "really heard" - a new Secret Phrase that sounds similar but doesn't break either rule. Other than this, there are no restrictions - the Secret Phrase can be a string of unrelated words, or even complete gibberish.
  • At the end of your round of Global Gossip, retrieve the lanyard (if you can; don't worry too much as it doesn't matter hugely), note the final mutation of the Secret Phrase, and contact your Receiving Library to pass it onto them.
  • To wrap it all up, as soon as you can do so after passing on the Secret Phrase, type up your log, then sign onto the Global Gossip blog and post the name of your library service, the local and UTC (aka GMT) time when you played, and your log.

What does everyone think? I will start mocking up a properly laid out document and sign, but does the process sound workable and sufficiently easy to implement?

In terms of language shifts, I suspect most libraries will turn out to be English-speaking, and English will be the default/backup language for the game. However, translations will be allowed - when scheduling libraries, we will make sure they can communicate to the next library on the list, and trust the librarians to handle local translations. If the phrase does get translated, we will ask the library staff to post an English translation next to the local version.



Diane Robson's picture

This looks great!


Phil Minchin (non-member)'s picture

Hi everyone! Sorry I've dropped off the radar a bit - I've had a storm of activity here, including having to replace the whole roof of my house, and also getting a short-notice invitation to present on games at a seminar about creative ways to tackle adult and teen literacy issues (amazing seminar, and lots lots of interest in games there!).

I'm doing most of my gaming work on my personal time, and I work more hours than I should in the library IT job, so time has been at an absolute premium, and basically I had to choose between making the game work and telling you about my efforts. I opted for the former :-)

We now have a chain of libraries from eastern Australia wrapping around the world to Alaska (Hawaii had to drop out, sadly) and the game will be running for 26 hours. Where multiple libraries were eligible and interested, I chose randomly who I asked.

The instructions and everything needed for play are online at http://globalgossipgame.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/the-rules/ - check out that site. As the participating libraries complete their rounds, they'll email me their logs and post them on that blog as well, and within a few days of the event I hope to post a complete sequential listing of the evolution of the Secret Phrase as it travelled the globe.

The secret phrase will start out as a classical quote (though really it's more of a paraphrase):

=======SPOILER ALERT=========

#@(IWJasdDasdNasdaasdsaasd*adas#AD@Y(H"Life must be lived as play"(*#Kjniohf9h293hr9rg9(he982GHE98G

=======SPOILER OVER=========

Yes, that's a line from Plato... and yes, I chose Plato as the source for the quote partly because of the pun. (Stress the first syllable of his name if you're not seeing it.)

I have a bunch of learnings from running the game this year, and will be happy to dissect how it could be done better next year - and despite being really happy with how it looks like turning out, it definitely COULD be done better next time.

But for now, thank you all for your interest, and sorry I was not so great at keeping things updated here. (That would be one of the big learnings.)

I hope you will still be proud of the game, and I hope you know that even though I didn't give much of a chance to get involved in the nitty-gritty, your support and interest was key to making it actually happen, instead of just being an interesting idea that kind of hovered and didn't quite fizzle away but never really got anywhere either. Next year we will make it bigger and better... and better organised too.

Thanks again - and let me know your thoughts! I'm not at all precious about feedback.


Darla Gutierrez's picture

Hi Everyone! This is my first day back at work since the storm -- hooray! We didn't get power back at my house until Saturday night, but luckily we didn't have any damage to our property.

How did the game go?? Have we heard from any libraries about how IGD went?

Phil Minchin (non-member)'s picture

Hey Darla,

Very glad you're OK and had no damage!

So the Global Gossip Game went pretty well, all things considered. It fell over in a couple of places (a power failure in Uganda made Kabarole Public Library uncontactable, and there was, sadly, some sort of communication breakdown between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia) and people had to jump back to previous versions of the Secret Phrase, but it made it all the way to Alaska with only backup interventions on my part.

I'm still waiting to get the logs back from a few of the library services, but I'm hoping to be able to post the master list of how it changed as it travelled by the end of the week, or early next at the latest.

Meanwhile, if anyone's dying to know how it ended, I can tell you that what started as "Life must be lived as play" ended as "He bites snails". Maybe next year we should offer a prize for the person who gets closest to guessing how it ends?


More soon!

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

I love seeing the mutations of the phrase for Global Gossip! Phil, as you assemble all of the pieces, if you can write a paragraph or two I'll post it to the blog.