Posts tagged ‘video games’

5 Reasons why you should be gaming in your Library

“We’re pleased to have Justin Hoenke, Teen Librarian at Cape May County Library guest posting for us this week. -Peter Bromberg

This past month, my library (Cape May County Library) was named the first place winner of the New Jersey State Library’s video contest “Solving Life’s Problems.” The video follows a timid young boy named Trevor whose family cannot afford to buy him the latest video game system. Instead, his family takes him to his local library where he quickly becomes a fan of the weekly game night program. In turn, Trevor and his family become regulars at the library. (So regular that Trevor now gets high fives from the librarians!)

Needless to say, I’m super proud of our staff (Lisa Alderfer, Technology Librarian and Mike Trout, Technology Assistant) for putting this video together. It clearly shows the many ways a library can be there for its patrons if we just take that extra step. But video games…in the library? I always get quizzed about how odd this idea seems by friends, family, and library patrons. I tell them that the answer is simple…we’re a public library and the public wants video games so…we give them video games! In 2008, video games sales topped $21 billion dollars(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28682836). Now I’m no expert with money, but that seems like a lot. Enough that we librarians should take notice.

If you’re on the fence about video game programs or circulating video game collections in your library, here are five reasons why you should just go for it.

1. Welcome to the 21st Century!
Video games are part of the new media. Corporations are using video games for product placement. Movie stars are starring in their own video games. That old cliche of video games making kids lazy and unsocial can be thrown out in the trash. Video games help people learn how to solve problems, develop hand/eye coordination, and now with games such as Wii Fit, provide exercise. Please check out all of your excuses at the door thank you very much.

Welcome to the 21st Century, where video games are a relevant source of information and media. If you choose not to have any kind of video games in your library, you’re living in the past.

2. Gaming builds community.
Since my library (Cape May County Library) initiated our Game Night program in January 2008, we have seen around 20-30 teens attending our weekly Game Night program. Looking at this crowd, you see a wide range of personalities; the hardcore gamers, the metalheads, the anime teens, and many more. Over the past year, I’ve watched all these personalities mix, mingle, and become good friends. Teens have told me that because of our Game Night program they now have more friends at school. This is what the 21st century library is all about…building community. The public library of the 21st century should bring together all sorts of people and provide them with the stuff they want.

3. You will see all sorts of new people in your library.
My desk is situated about 30 feet from our entrance. I get to see a number of folks stopping in the library on a daily basis. They’re usually the same people, but since we got our circulating video game collection things have changed. I see a lot of new faces coming in every few days to get a new game. Once they find out I’m the one buying the games, I become sort of a pseudo celebrity. The cool thing about this story? These are people I’ve NEVER seen in the library before. Just think of all the patrons that are out there that are not interested in books. This is one way to reach them.

4. You couldn’t ask for an easier way to get teens interested in the library.
I call video games the “gateway drug for getting reluctant teens interested in the library.” It almost seems too easy. Have video games and they will come. That’s it. As I said in #2 above, every week I see a wide range of personalities mixing it up for two hours over Rock Band. These teens started out just coming to our game nights. I casually introduced them to our other teen programs and all the teen books and graphic novels we had. I didn’t beat them over the head with this other stuff…instead I just said “Hey, take a look at this other cool stuff.” Slowly but surely the teens were coming into the library on non game nights. They were checking out books. They were coming up to my desk and requesting new books. As a matter a fact, they helped initiate a new collection of video game strategy guides in our teen room.

Now, our teen circulation is through the roof. All of our teen programs are very well attended. And it all started with video games in the library.

5. The initial cost may be high, but the return investment is priceless.
Wow. That was such a cliche line. I’m sort of proud of myself for writing it. Anyway, video games cost a lot of money. Playstation 3 games regularly go for $59.99. Ouch. Especially in a time when so many libraries are getting budget cuts. Here’s something to think about though; You’re not plopping down all this money for nothing. You are creating life long library users. These patrons will see that and they’ll become supporters for your library. They’ll be the ones to fight for you in the future if you face budget cuts.

Are you also gaming in your library? If so, comment below and share what is working best for your library.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/justinlibrarian
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/justinhoenke

August 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

The Future of Gaming

I am part of the original gaming generation. I can remember when I was six years old, my father bought my mom an Atari for her birthday. I can remember becoming one of the first players to be printed in Atari magazine’s 20,000 Pitfall club. The Christmas that I was eleven, Santa brought me a Nintendo and my brother a Sega… and I still consider Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! one of the greatest and hardest games ever created.

And my 19 month-old daughter has followed in her father’s gaming footsteps already as she asks to sit and watch me play the Wii.

Video games are experiencing some of the greatest success since the Arcade days. And to call it a reborn fad for our kids would be greatly misunderstanding just how far the passion for gaming goes. According to the ESA’s 2006 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data report, the average age of gamers is 33. In fact, 25% of gamers are over the age of 50. As much as we like to portray games as a child’s play, there is little that is childish about it. Video games are a part of our society at all levels. Overall, video games took in just under $10 billion dollars last year. I have a guess that the overwhelming success that the Nintendo Wii has with casual gamers will put it over that milestone this year.

By the way, that $10 billion is just for the United States; worldwide is estimated around $38 billion (not including consoles).

And as a self-proclaimed First Generation Gamer, the changes we’ve already seen in games have been awesome to witness. Games have changed from running-to-the-right scrollers into entire virtual worlds, and there seems to be a virtual world for just about any enthusiast. The controllers have changed from a joystick and a single button into eight button and directionals that can control all three dimensions. And let’s not forget motion sensitive controllers, like the Wii, to specialized controllers like Guitar Hero and the upcoming Rock Band. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that a game’s storyline has changed from unbending objectives into flexible stories that allow the player to choose their own story lines, decisions and really make the character their own. Because of these developments, game manufacturers are finding renewed interest and new players in the gaming culture.

So where does it all go from here? I’m not sure, but I have some guesses.

Obviously, graphics and sound will continue to improve. The dropping prices of surround sound systems will influence how players and game developers use sound in the gaming experience. As TVs continue to move towards better picture quality, console makers will be sure to be on the cutting edge with them.

The casual gamer will continue to influence the development of console gaming, price and strategy-wise. If there is anything that Xbox and PS3 have learned from the current sales-war, it is that even the most passive gamer is willing to spend a little money for a couple hours of enjoyment.

Games will become more about buying the right to play rather than levels. What do I mean? Think in terms of World of Warcraft; you buy the software and the ability to create characters but the game itself is housed online. Game developers are going to start using this for console games as well, thus allowing them to continually add and improve the games as the characters grow. So your game is not limited to the hardware it is housed on. The advantage of doing this is that your story lines never have to end and, for all intents and purposes, the character will live as long as you do.

Social networks and support groups will continue to play major roles. World of Warcraft is as much about the people you play with as it is about the game. People join groups in the virtual world and it is like a sacred bond. Real world friendships and even marriages have resulted from WoW meetings. As games continue to allow players to flesh out their own characters, the socialization platforms that come with the games will be used in the same ways as Facebook and Myspace, perhaps stronger.

Games will continue to influence education and professional training. Games like Trauma Center are a lot of fun (the player is a surgeon who performs everything from removing cysts to heart surgery) but they have a greater potential if applied to the medical field. The military uses a gaming interface to help train their soldiers for life-or-death situations. From a marketing perspective this is a major yet-to-be-tapped resource but one with serious profits if they make the right games.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; I love the age I am growing up in. It’s not just gaming revolution, it is evolution. We’re going from static to dynamic and creating games that are not just one-dimensional stories but true interactive experiences.

So, if you are not part of the gaming culture, I recommend you check it out… there is something for everyone. And if you are, I hope we meet in the virtual worlds.

Incidentally, if you are ever smitten by someone named Rex Libris in the virtual world, I apologize now.

August 15, 2007 at 9:45 am 5 comments


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