Monday, October 25, 2010

The Response to "Successful" Gaming

"We have a wide assortment of games available with some of the most popular being Super Smash Bros. Brawl, any Naruto title, Uncharted 2, Madden NFL, NBA 2K, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Ghost Recon 2, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Little Big Planet, and Batman: Arkham Asylum."

With the possible exception of Uncharted 2 and Madden, I guarantee those are not games teen boys are actually talking about. It's all well and good to talk about building community and providing stories in all forms, but many of those teens are coming to the library to play PS3- exclusive games (like Uncharted) because they do not have the console at home. After gaming they go home, sign onto Xbox Live and play Halo or Call of Duty(which no one in the profession can talk about because they are rated M).

Houston has a great program and kudos to them, I'm not writing this to critique their idea. But is does the profession no good to keep publishing the same article about gaming over and over. This is not Gaming 2.0, it is not progress to reaching new populations or imparting new knowledge to the readership. The most successful part of this program is the purchase of the PS3, a console that has not yet saturated the gaming market. Providing teens what they want is essential. Providing what they already have is no way to convince new users to leave their rooms and play at the library. Of course that is not mentioned in the article.

"children today have entire conversations that take place using a cultural frame of reference that comes from video games."

That is a great defense for providing access to gaming, but it isn't backed up by the choice of games Houston is offering. Teens are not talking about the narrative of Little Big Planet or the sports titles because there IS no story. And they aren't talking about Ghost Recon or Mortal Kombat because they don't care. If Houston was concerned with being relevant to today's teens they would not have selected games teens are actively not playing by choice and not by limited access.

Listing unappealing titles like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Ghost Recon are just going to encourage librarians to buy those games for their own gaming programs. At some point libraries have to deal with the fact that Call of Duty and Halo are the most played, most demanded, most recognized titles. Teens ARE playing these games, teens are talking about them. Why aren't we?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Successful Ongoing Gaming

Here is an interesting article this week in American Libraries, revving folks up for National Gaming Day @ Your Library (which, no, we did not plan anything for...should we next year?). It focuses on the work the Houston Public Library has done to incorporate gaming into both their kids and teen spaces.

I love how it focuses on the community that has evolved around teens who are fans of the program:

What we discovered after a month or two was the formation of a community.... Players encourage each other through the most challenging games and play in a good-natured way that encourages others to join in. We have a library full of engaged teen boys and our only real issues have been language and trash from our two vending machines.

Many of our teens ride the bus for at least an hour or more to get to the Central Library and they do it on an almost daily basis. They have learned to cooperate and participate with other teens from all over the city. Race, age, and ability have little to do with whether or not they can join a group playing. They teach each other and learn from each other daily.

I wish we could offer ongoing programming like this...sounds like a great idea!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Tries to Censor Teen Sexting

Salon (and a variety of other sources) ran an article this week on Apple's attempt to introduce anti-sexting software. Aside from the ethical issues around trying to control the communications of people, this article nails a couple of very good points:

Good luck trying to keep up with ever-mutating teenage slang; they will find a way to say naughty things, even it means subversively co-opting wholesome phrases. If anyone can turn something as benign-sounding as "I'm going to church to pray" into secret code for nefarious behavior, it's teenagers.


I can't help but think that parents' best bet in trying to protect their kids will be as it has always been: to communicate with them -- preferably face-to-face.


Of especial interest to teen librarians: "The average 13- to 17-year-old sends and receives 3,339 texts a month -- more than 100 per day." If we can't find a way to connect with teens at this level, will we disappear completely below their radar?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Video Gamers and Reading

David found a useful article that came out of the 2010 ALSC Institute:

Redefining Story
Jennifer M. Brown

Is there a difference between playing a video game and reading a story? Both have characters and a plot, and involve picking up visual and textual clues in order to move forward. Does it matter if one is on a screen and the other is on the page? Are gamers also readers? These questions formed the crux of the discussion at a panel called "Transforming Gamers into Readers" at the 2010 ALSC (Association of Library Service to Children) Institute held September 23-24 in Atlanta, Ga...

Includes suggestions for getting gamers reading, including book recommendations, magazines and podcasts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Databases on smart phones

This blog post on SLJ gives you a bit of a heads up on things we'll only see more of in the next few years.

Here's a demonstration: