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?

1 comment:

Dawn said...

While teen boys may not be talking about those games in Monroe, I think it is entirely probably that teens in that community contributed to the purchasing decisions. Regardless of the draw for coming to the library, the relationship and community are the strongest benefits these programs provide.

Rated M games are not featured in most libraries programs because teen service professionals understand teens' developmental needs for boundaries and learning how to engage appropriately in the community. Talking about M rated games should certainly be encouraged, as this provides an opportunity for thoughtful discussion. But realistically, the community outrage that would be expressed is much the same as that for R rated movies. These things may be appropriate in certain contexts, but the justification must be more than just wishing to appear edgy.

I agree that this article does not strike me as particularly revolutionary, aside from the commitment to space and continual access to equipment. ALA's promotion of Gaming Day (which I assumed this article to be a part of) came late on the heels of YALSA's many early efforts and has been less than awe inspiring to teen folks who already have done much of what they promote.

If "Call of Duty and Halo are the most played, most demanded, most recognized titles" why would teens seek another venue to engage in them? That is like saying we need televisions in our teen areas because teens like to watch cable. They have on occation asked for hot tubs. Why don't we have those?

I'd like to hear your answer to the question "Why aren't we?" for there is some reasoning behind it, not just a desire to be mean or unpopular.