“You must understand video games. Seriously. You must. So if you don’t know a joystick from a jelly roll, spend some time getting up to speed on games played on computers, online, and on special devices such as Game Boys and Playstations. Ask your kid. Ask your neighbor’s kid. Or go into an electronics store such as Best Buy where the games are usually on display, and ask for a demo. You won’t regret it. And you may even become hooked. At the very least, you’ll begin to understand the powerful new grammar, narrative pattern, and thinking style these games are teaching. For added nuances about this world, page through any of the many gaming magazines now available. (Look for them near the games in that electronics store.) And investigate the following Web sites, which offer smart primers and some snippets of cool games.”
I’ve actually done research on students who are learning game design and about games,” said Jose Zagal, a game development professor at DePaul. “And it is quite often the case that they’ll have a very narrow view of games.”
Jim Galbraith, associate director of collections at DePaul’s library, hopes the collection will draw the wider student body while supplementing what’s taught in game design and computer science classes.
I think what I hate seeing in these types of articles is the general “GAMES BAD BOOKS GOOD” thing (for the full effect, imagine The Incredible Hulk saying that). Perhaps I’m only seeing this because of my interest in gaming (I am one of the co-founders of 8BitLibrary.com). I don’t know. I try to read articles like that from the approach of my parents, who are middle class, everyday blue collar folks who have their high school diploma. What would they think? I think they’d come to the conclusion that games are bad and reading is good. Especially with a headline like that.
That worries me a bit as someone who got a lot out of video games. I didn’t read a lot, but I played a lot of games. Some had great stories, some had crap stories. The same thing applies to a lot of books out there. I felt like what I was doing was the equivalent to reading in some way. I was participating in stories with characters/drama/plot/etc. The only difference is that my reading was a bit interactive. I got a lot of enjoyment out of these stories. The characters and their quests are still with me to this day.
I also think playing video games led me to a lot of reading which I wouldn’t have done before video games. I read a lot of gaming magazines and comics. That led to graphic novels and some sci-fi (actual books!). I wasn’t the best gamer in the world so sometimes I resorted to using strategy guides. That’s reading too!
Do I think it ate into reading time? I think it was my reading time.
Most of my time freelancing I’ve also worked in libraries as a part-time paraprofessional. I love freelancing but it’s lonely. I like being around people and I truly love libraries: literate and curious people, engaging co-workers, and a genuinely meaningful mission to make a difference in one’s community. I finally broke down and went to library school, completing my MLS in 2008. I have been amazed and delighted to find my first career intersecting with the sea change sweeping through today’s libraries: many libraries are holding regular gaming events, ALA Anaheim (2008) had an entire area for gaming-related vendors, and Verizon Foundation has seen fit to fund ALA with a $1M grant in support of literacy and gaming. (I’m one of the folks on ALA’s team of “grant experts.”)
What do I hope to bring to LJ’s readership, here and in print? A deep background to understand games, gaming, and gamers, in and out of the library. Different ways of looking at gaming programs in libraries. The intersection of literature and games, authors and gaming. I’ll look at what people get out of games, what people learn and what games teach, overtly and under the radar alike. I’ll consider the popular press and the academic work done on games and gaming. If something hits the media news channels, I’ll check it out and get with you on it. I’ll advocate for gaming but never turn a blind eye to the criticisms of games either. In fact, my first non-introductory blog post will be “Why Games?”
I am also very interested in her research about skills acquired in World of Warcraft that may transfer to real life. The survey is at http://tinyurl.com/SkillsSurvey. Liz told me: “It is live until the end of April and there is an opt-in to win one of five possible WoW timecards as a thank participants for participation.”
Take a look and let’s welcome Liz to the biblioblogosphere!
After seeing the Nebraska story, I picked up the phone and called the auditor’s office and talked with him. I told him about the studies that I’ve done on the topic and asked if he’s like copies (he did, and I sent them over).
After we talked, it’s not the gaming itself that was the problem, but the creation of the video showing staff members playing the games (with no other content). If the video had shown patrons playing games and it was a program, or if the video had been part of a training program where the staff were teaching people who to use games, it would have not caused the problems that this video did.
So, the argument wasn’t “libraries shouldn’t have games” but “they shouldn’t make frivolous videos for the public to see”.
We’re adding this resource to the Gaming in Libraries modules for my classes. If you are curious about getting started with gaming or would like to see a clearinghouse of articles and supporting research on games and literacy, please take a look.
I might urge the folks in Nebraska to take a serious look at the supporting research and survey data for a bigger picture of these initiatives.