The Quest

Ghouls, Gremlins, Orcs and other terrible creatures have attacked the Library and claimed several precious books. Their plan was so sneaky they also cut off WSU from the internet so replacement copies cannot be ordered. You, the student, need these books to finish your essay assignment. You must slay the monsters to reclaim the sources with the power of weaponised referencing. You will explore down to the deepest depths of the Library to complete the collection and get a high distinction for your essay (and also save the library from monsters).

The Challenges

RefQuest will test your referencing knowledge with a variety of randomised puzzle types and reference examples. With your handy sword and a handful of lives, you will need to defeat a series of increasingly difficult monsters that will test your understanding of referencing! With each level the number of monsters and complexity of the references increases. Keep an eye on the timer and remember to use your spellbook to assist you in your quest to save referencing!
Some puzzles you will encounter include:
  • Card Shuffle - defeat the monster by reshuffling the cards into the correct order,
  • Multiple Choice - defeat the monster by choosing the correct answer,
  • Boss Battle - defeat the boss by selecting the correct blocks to solve the reference sequence
A screenshot featuring the hero in a standoff with monsters. This scene takes place in Level 3, The Archives.
Defeat hordes of monsters with the power of correct citation.
A screenshot featuring a timer, different cards featuring parts of an internet journal article. The player must select the correct part of the reference in order.
Be challenged with a variety of puzzles that will help you learn referencing.
A screenshot of a boss stage, a timer is in the middle of the screen with sections. Cards showing parts of a book reference are moving in center of the screen. Controls to manipulate the speed of the cards are also in the midle of the screen.
Take on the bosses in building a reference before they get you.
Watch the trailer
An ogre holding a sword.
About the game
A collaboration between The Library and Learning Futures
RefQuest is an online educational game available to all Western Sydney University students to learn how to correctly reference, to provide evidence in their work and acknowledge contributions. The game is built on robust and proven active learning and pedagogical principles that scaffold and guide students through a fun and engaging experience. RefQuest teaches players the patterns of referencing and challenges their knowledge with multiple activities which have increasing difficulty. RefQuest was co-developed by Learning Futures and the Library at Western Sydney University, and is based on The Great Referencing Game that was developed by WSU Library staff as a classroom activity, which was adapted from Chasing Citations by Ryan L Sittler in McDevitt, TR, 2011, Let the Games Begin! RefQuest supports the following referencing styles:

Note: RefQuest does not support Microsoft browsers (Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge). We recommend using Firefox, Chrome or Safari.
Learning design

It's Active Learning

Students perform better when they actively engage with the information they are learning. Active learning promotes better recall, and understanding. It encourages the brain to process and store new information by activating cognitive and sensory networks and is the cornerstone of other progressive pedagogy, including problem-based learning and collaborative learning. RefQuest provides the player an active learning experience by:
  • Encouraging the player to learn by doing.
  • Providing the player with customised, responsive and rapid feedback.
  • Encouraging thoughtful planning and decision making.
  • Demanding the player learns in order to succeed, because if they don’t learn they can’t progress to the next level.
  • Mapping success and failure directly to the player’s actions and these are represented in the game.
  • Giving the player positive feedback and rewards for progression.
  • Offering consequences for failure combined with constructive feedback and correction. These are not abstract or hypothetical; they are represented in the game.
  • Investing their ego and self-image into a character and experience players can identify with.
  • Creating an engaging narrative and fun experience that provides the player a scenario that generates emotional responses and enjoyment.

Built on pedagogy

The structure of games should mirror good pedagogy, offering progressive problem solving and scaffolded learning. RefQuest embodies all phases of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction (events that activate processes needed for effective learning). These events are: gain attention, inform learner of objectives, stimulate recall of prior learning, present stimulus material, provide learner guidance, elicit performance, provide feedback, assess performance, and enhance retention and transfer. RefQuest is also built on intrinsic motivational concepts and models of self-regulated learning with just the right amount of challenge, support, and feedback, progressively rewarding mastery with new challenges. This experience parallels other known optimal states of happiness, or flow (as determined by Csikszentmihalyi).
Contact the Library
The Library is committed to enabling student literacies, by providing a combination of learning activities, learning resources and academic skills services. Students: to access more online referencing resources, please visit the Referencing and Citation page on the Library website. Academic Staff: please contact your School Librarian to discuss the embedding of information literacy (including academic integrity) and academic literacy resources into your Course or Unit.
Contact Learning Futures
Student engagement is widely understood to be vital to student success, and learning is improved when students are curious, inspired and invested in their learning. Learning Futures is committed to helping engage students by creating technology-enabled activities and conditions that are most likely to generate higher quality learning. To talk to us about how we can leverage this technology to help your school’s academic needs, please email us at: For any feedback regarding RefQuest, please email us as at
A troll with a stone hammer.
Attribution and licencing
RefQuest was co-developed by Learning Futures and the Library at Western Sydney University. Inspired by the Great Referencing Game (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) which was adapted from Sittler, R.L. (2011). Chasing Citations. In T.McDevitt (Ed.), Let the games begin! Engaging students with field-tested interactive information literacy instruction (pp.116-118). New York, NY. RefQuest © Copyright 2020 Western Sydney University Use of the RefQuest game is permitted under CC BY- NC-ND. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.