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Research Data Management Adventure game launched
Author: Library and Information Service
Published: 08/03/2021

Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service is pleased to announce the launch of the Research Data Management (RDM) Adventure Game. The RDM Adventure Game is a text-based role-playing interactive fiction serious game, based on the data management challenges of a research project. The game takes the form of an online choose-your-own-adventure format in which game players take a simulated research project through the following processes: data management planning, data collection/generation, data organisation, data description and research publication, while encountering data management challenges along the way. The game was developed as part of a collaboration between the University of Bath Library and Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service between 2017 and 2020 by Alex Ball (University of Bath), Samuel Simango (Stellenbosch University) and Nushrat Khan (University of Bath). In January 2021, the Wellcome Trust's Early Career Researchers Advisory Board endorsed the game by including it in the Wellcome Open Research early career researchers pack, recognising it as a useful tool for researchers.

Aim of the Game

The objective of the RDM Adventure Game is to demonstrate and teach good practice in research data management and assist researchers in understanding good practices related to RDM. The specific learning outcomes focus on the following aspects:

  1. Data management planning
  2. Designing participant information sheets and consent forms
  3. Choosing appropriate equipment for research projects
  4. Acquiring suitable third-party research data
  5. Organising research data
  6. Storing research data appropriately
  7. Analysing and documenting research data
  8. Preparing research data for archiving
  9. Publishing research data

The Audience

The RDM Adventure Game is aimed primarily at postgraduate students as well as early career researchers and academics. Anyone who has an interest in understanding how RDM works on a practical level, e.g. research support staff, could, however, also find the game helpful.

Game play

The game takes players through different stages of the research data lifecycle, presents them with a data management challenge and allows them to make decisions that affect the success of their research project. Players progress either by making straightforward binary choices or by completing puzzle-like options. In the process certain challenges test the effectiveness of the decisions made by the players. The tone of the game is light-hearted to maintain its entertainment value, despite it being a serious game.

Since the game simulates the entire RDM lifecycle, the repercussions of decisions researchers make can be experienced in a safe environment, permitting them to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them without suffering the associated real-life consequences. Game players can opt to play the entire game or can select to only play specific stages of the RDM lifecycle.

Find out more and play the game

The RDM Adventure Game was launched in December 2020 at the University of Bath. The game has been released under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA) and is hosted on GitLab. If you are interested in playing the game, click here.

For more information, please contact Samuel Simango at

Further Reading