Tag Archives: Games

Ms. Pac Man at the Chattanooga Public Library (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Photo Jun 01, 4 42 27 PM

This is what it’s all about: A tween and his Dad enjoy Ms. Pac Man at the Library

When I was a teenager, I spent most if not all of my time in video game arcades in shopping malls.  It was the time of fighting games…Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, World Heroes, Primal Rage, and many, many more.  Who knows how much money I spent playing those games and more importantly, who cares.  What mattered most (and what sticks with me to this day) was being in the same room with people my age who enjoyed the same things as me.  It was exciting.  It was fun.  It created friendships and community.

Video gaming in libraries isn’t a new thing.  It seems to have picked up steam in the last decade and is now something that most libraries will offer to their communities.  This is a good thing: video games can be fun, rewarding, help those playing them understand stories/character/plot, and so much more.

I’ve always wanted to recreate that vibe that I felt back when I used to frequent the arcade in the public library.  It was exciting to stand around an arcade machine and watch someone get as far as they could in a game on one quarter.  It was exciting to go one-on-one with someone in a game like Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat.  Public libraries are places where people come together and experience something.  Why not have a bit of that something be an arcade machine?

It has been a dream of mine to get an arcade machine in a library since I started in libraries back in 2007 and this past week, thanks to the Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library the support of the staff at the Chattanooga Public Library, and my wife Haley (she found it on Craigslist for only $150!), we now have an original Ms. Pac Man arcade machine on the 2nd Floor of the library…and it has been a great thing.  I love seeing the reaction people have when they realize that the library has an arcade machine.  I love seeing families (like the photo above) playing it together.  I love seeing the teens gather round and have tournaments to see who can get the highest score.

I cannot wait to see the community and friendships that this little ‘ol machine will create.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

German-American Gaming League (by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke)

I had the honor of helping unveil the German-American Gaming League while I was in Hamburg last month for the Bibliothekartag Library Conference.  If you’re interested in the league, please visit this link for more information (please note: the page is in German, so have Google Translate handy!)

What is the German-American gaming league?

In the gaming league take people from Germany and the United States in an open competition against each other. Here are several computer games such as Wii bowling and playing Mario Kart.

Why did the German-American gaming league?

We believe that gaming will have a major impact on the culture and knowledge in the future. With this and many other projects we want to prepare cultural and educational institutions at that future. We would also like to develop an international network on the topic of gaming. Our colleagues in the United States are already implementing for many years a gaming league. There is even a National Gaming Day.We now want to expand this league to Germany, thus ensuring a sustainable and interdisciplinary networking.

Furthermore, we want to network with this project, the institutions with gamers.

Where are the competitions?

The competitions are held in participating libraries, museums and archives.

What is the cost to attend the gaming league?

Participation in the gaming league is for both the players and for the institutions in which the competitions take place absolutely free.

Who can play?

The gaming league is open to every person who has the desire to join in playing video games. There is no age restriction.

What games are played?

There are only played games with no age restriction. We begin in the first season with Wii bowling and Mario Kart. More games will follow.

When will the gaming league, and how long a season?

The Gaming League was officially launched in the Library Conference 2012 in Hamburg. This means that from now on, they can enter institutions. The gaming events in Germany are said to have taken place up to 30.11.2012, ie on 01.12.2012, we want to present the German champion, then travel to the finals in the United States. The next round will begin in June 2013.

Important: The registration period ends on July 20, 2012 , and we start with 20 institutions – first come, first play, first :-)

Who makes the gaming league?

The Gaming League is a cooperative project of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, the association Zukunftswerkstatt culture and knowledge eV and libraries and gaming lovers from Germany and the United States.

Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 3)

Shirky, of course, advocates that we embrace “as much chaos as we can stand.” In this scenario, staff is encouraged to try out a new thing without regard to the way “it’s always been done.” This is messy, scary, and probably unwanted in most institutions. 

Ideas above are from:
Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
Embracing Chaos by Michael Stephens

It has been a little over a month since we began our grand experiment with lending devices to teens (for the first post on this, go here.  for the second, go here) and I am here to check back in and follow up about the project with 100% honesty.

The Nook is still circulating and has a hold list.   The device has been loaned out, returned, and been taken well care of.  There hasn’t been as much interest in the Nook as there has been the iPod, but I think that’s to be expected with these types of devices and teens (for more on this, see Are Teens Embracing E-Books?)

The iPods have been lost.  They were lent out to two teens at the same time and like clockwork a week  later, they were gone.  The teens came into the library and told me about their story.  Both of them were using the device and let their friends borrow it to play a game and then their friends walked off with the iPod. I listened and explained to them that I understood where they were coming from but the fines for losing the device were staying on their card ($324).  I didn’t tell them outright that I was a bit sad by the loss (for the library, for the teens that wanted to borrow them, and for the teens that lost them…that’s a hefty fine), but I think they could see it in me.  Sometimes you don’t have to say much to get a message across.  Emotions are a heavy thing.

Am I bummed that this all happened?  Of course.  There’s a small part of me that’s sad about how it all went down, but there are two sides to every story.  The overall excitement that the teens had when they found out we’d be circulating these devices showed me that I was on the right track.  Sure, we lost two iPods, but you have to remember it’s just an iPod touch and not some one of a kind, priceless thing. I’m also happy that we tried something new, something out of the ordinary for our teens and we now have more experience for when we run this program again…and don’t get me wrong, we will try again.  I would be letting down the nine other teen patrons in the hold queue for the iPods if I didn’t.  In conclusion, this minor setback will not get me down.  I’ve seen many bigger successes – such as the one last week where one of my longtime teen patrons who just became a US citizen after being in this country for a few years – to put me down for the count.  Those are the things that matter.  An iPod touch?  Not so much.

What did I learn from this?

  • You’re gonna lose items…and it’s ok.  It’s all part of the learning process.  Libraries lose a lot of materials with high value – think about when an audiobook collection goes missing or a disc needs to be replaced in a multi item set.
  • The teens have to know that they’re responsible.  Fines may not be the best way to do this, but that’s a bigger issue for another time.
  • eBooks and teens?  There’s a limited audience.
  • Teens want to have an experience.

How will this work next time?

  • One of the observations I made with the teens that had borrowed the devices was that they were more into using YouTube and the web browser than they were using the apps.  A possible solution would be to limit access to YouTube and the web browser and limit the devices to what they were intended for: curated app experience devices
  • Credit checks/signed applications from parents/etc will not work no matter how hard you try to push this on teens.  Teens can barely keep track of what they’re going to do after school, let alone understand what signing a piece of paper means.  Perhaps a better way forward is for the people working with these teen patrons in the library to make individual calls on each lender.  It may be a good idea for those working in the teen library to take some time to sit down with the teens that potentially want to borrow these devices, show them what they can do, and explain in fuller detail what it means to be “selected” for this program.


I won’t call this program a failure.  I learned that there is a BIG demand for a specific kind of device (the iPods) and less of a demand for another (eReaders).  What the teens want is an experience they cannot get anywhere else. I plan on giving it to them.   I’ll make sure to check back in once our new iPods arrive in the next few months

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens (PART 2)

(for the first post in this series, please click here)

Once I had the idea for lending out iPods with pre-selected apps to teens, I had to do some investigating and thinking about how these devices would be used.

I would describe the iPods as “locked down”.  By that, I mean that the borrower can’t do much other than use the iPods for their library defined purpose (play or create) and use the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To access restrictions, visit your settings on your iPod.  Under the General tab, scroll down to find restrictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in the restrictions section, you will see a number of things that you can turn off for the user.  I turned off everything except for Safari, YouTube, and Camera.  This section is locked by a 4 digit passcode which the borrower does not have access to.

I’ve also decided to use Find My iPhone app as a means of locating the device as a last resort (if it goes missing, stolen, etc).  Find My iPhone relies on the borrower being in an area that has wifi, but also has an option which will notify the Apple account holder (the library) of the next time the iPod has connected to a wifi network.  I know that this will sound a bit “Minority Report/1984/we’re watching you and your every move”, but I assure you that this is not the point of using this app.  In order to keep our investment safe for other members our community to borrow, I decided that using Find My iPhone was in our best interest.  Luckily, we haven’t had to resort to using it yet and I hope we never have to, but if the need arises it will be there for us to use.

And finally, I’ve been asked the question “Do the teens have to sign some kind of agreement to take out the iPods?”  My answer to this question is…sort of.

While we do not have a print version of a lending agreement in place that the teens/parent/guardian has to sign, we do have a spiel that we do give the teens before we check them out to them.  It’s not the same every time, but it goes something like this:

Just so you know, but checking out iPod out is kind of a big deal.  If it gets damaged, lost, or stolen, you’re going to have quite a hefty fine on your library card that you will have to pay before you can use the library again.  So, if you’re ok with that and you can be responsible with the iPod, then you should totally borrow it.

We usually end this conversation with a funny secret society type of handshake.  My hope is that it resonates with the teens a lot more than signing some piece of paper.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Create, Play, Read – Lending Devices to Teens

We can talk all day about whether or not it’s a good idea to lend out devices to patrons, but in the end action is better than any kind of talk.  After listening to both sides of the lending devices story for a few weeks, I decided to say the heck with it and buy some Nooks and iPod Touches to lend out to my teen patrons.

My approach to lending out these devices was simple: sure, anyone can go out there and buy these devices and put whatever they want on them, but what about all of the cool stuff  they may overlook?  There’s so many great apps and games out there that there’s no way you could try them all.


I approached the devices as something that the teen library would “curate”.  The librarians of the future are also our community leaders.  They not only inform their communities, but they also teach, show, and introduce their communities to new things.  I took that approach when selected the apps and ebooks that would come loaded on each of these devices.  I also came up with a “brand” for the devices….PLAY, CREATE, AND READ SOMETHING.  It is my hope with the brand that people come to see the “____ SOMETHING” idea in the library as something unique that a library does not offer traditionally.


The criteria for selecting apps and ebooks was simple.  I asked myself “what would I want to experience on these devices?” and also “what could give someone who is borrowing this device the best experience possible?”  Each iPod came loaded with $50 in iTunes store credit, and for the Nooks I purchased $100 in ebooks (you can see the complete lists of what are on the devices below).
The program rolled out yesterday, so I don’t have any feedback to give yet, but I’ll make sure to follow up on this post soon.
Here are the details of each of these programs, what I loaded onto the devices, and more, please visit:

PLAY SOMETHING
CREATE SOMETHING
READ SOMETHING

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow @ the Mannheim Library

Gaming Roadshow Panel Discussion (from http://goo.gl/gQgFB) at the Mannheim Library

Christoph Deeg has been doing an amazing job touring libraries in Europe with the Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow opening up discussion about gaming and libraries.  This past week, the Roadshow made a stop at the Mannheim Library and held their program and panel discussion on gaming.  If you’re interested, check out this write up of the event here.

The roadshow panel discussion brought up a great question:

We discussed how interactive games can be used specifically in the culture and knowledge of the role they play in society, which can help libraries, schools or other institutions to technology and how it even more into everyday life, eg for language and reading skills, can be integrated and used.

For more information on the Roadshow, please visit Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

 

How to Raise Boys Who Read (Hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes)

How to Raise Boys Who Read (Hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes)

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.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor