“It is a quiet day at Lycoming… when suddenly the campus is taken over by Plagiarism goblins who want to destroy its academic integrity! You are the only person left who can destroy the goblins and restore order to the College!”
So begins “Goblin Threat,” also known throughout the Lycoming College campus as the Plagiarism Game. Created more than 10 years ago by Mary Broussard, professor and instructional services librarian and coordinator of reference and web services at Lycoming College’s Snowden Library, the game has steadily risen in popularity, receiving more than 200,000 page views in 2018, according to Google Analytics.
The game revolves around the player traveling through Lycoming College and defeating “plagiarism goblins” by correctly answering questions about plagiarism. Broussard always had an interest in game-based learning, so she applied that interest toward making both an informative and entertaining game. “The point was to make it more enjoyable than a straightforward tutorial on plagiarism,” she said.
The popularity of the Plagiarism Game extends well beyond the campus gates, with teachers and professors from all over the world using the game as a way of informing their students about the specifics of plagiarism. Broussard attributes the game’s popularity to it being a “spoonful of sugar to make something that neither party wants to talk about a little more fun.”
When it looked like the life of the game may be coming to an end, the College took action. During the summer of 2019, Matthew Velardi, a physics and math double major from Bartonsville, Pa. and a Williamsport Internship Summer Experience (WISE) intern, took up the task of re-coding the Plagiarism Game to preserve this feature of Lycoming College’s website.
“The game was made several years ago, when Adobe Flash Player was the medium used for most games and videos on the internet,” said Velardi. “Over time, however, HTML — the coding language used to make websites in general — has gotten better at handling game code. As a result of this, Adobe will stop supporting Flash in 2020. Being that the game is widely used, it would be best for it to continue working, so my job was to convert it to HTML.”
According to Velardi, the process of switching the game over was not simple. “I did not have access to any code from Flash, so my task was to play through and recreate the game from scratch,” he said. “While I wasn't able to perfectly recreate the game, it is mostly the same; all the goblins are in the same place and they all ask the same questions. The only real differences are some fonts and animations. Of course, the only difference that truly matters, though, is that we can continue to support the game for the foreseeable future.”
By moving the Plagiarism Game over to HTML, Velardi has ensured its survival indefinitely. “I am happy to have been a part of this endeavor,” he added.
The Plagiarism Game can now be accessed in its new format through the library section of Lycoming College’s website.