Archive for May, 2008

Books for Gamers

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

My husband has played guitar –for fun, not profit–since he was around twelve. He knows how to read music, has played in informal bands, and could care less about being a Guitar Hero; rhythm games just aren’t his thing. In fact, he plays along on his REAL guitar while I strum hopelessly to “I Love Rock N Roll” (he might be mocking me).

While we were browsing at various instrument shops over the long weekend (Daddy’s Junky Music, and then at Guitar Center) I noticed two how-to play books by Hal Leonard, based on popular rhythm games, and thought, wow, a library that added these to the collection might be pretty cool.

The Guitar Hero Song Book came out last year. It contains notes and tablature from forty songs featured in GHI & II, most for more advanced players, with a strong focus on heavy metal songs. Rock Band: Songs from MTV’s Video Game contains the guitar tablature from twenty-five hits.

More titles in this venue are to follow. Rock Band: Drum Play Along comes out in November 2008 and will have drum notations songs from the hit game, PLUS an accompanying CD with adjustable beat, so you practice at a slower pace, or listen at normal speed to hear what you are supposed to sound like. The book will includes eight songs:

Rock Band: Drum Book

  • “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
  • “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden
  • “Creep” by Radiohead
  • “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chli Peppers
  • “Enter Sandman” by Metallica
  • “In Bloom ” by Nirvana
  • “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters (one of MY personal favorites!)
  • “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer

Most of the Hal Leonard books cost around $20. I’ve heard lots of teens say at gaming programs that Guitar Hero inspires them to learn to play guitar, and I’ve heard from librarians that say while they don’t want to do a bait & switch (come in for the games, leave with the books), they are not adverse to softcover titles with relevance, i.e. books on how to play guitar at a Guitar Hero program. So, keep Hal Leonard titles in mind, especially if your library’s fiscal year is coming to a close and you have a little money to spend before June 30.

Gaming in Libraries in the News

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

With the beginning of summer approaching, I’m anticipating a lot of gaming programs in libraries. Here are a few to start that are in the news:

Southern Oaks (OK) Public Library  is kicking off the summer with a Teen Summer Game Fest. Teen Specialist John Hilbert notes that “It’s a great chance for teens to come to the library, meet friends and play games, and then check out some books.”

Video Game Design 101 is the kickoff program for Mesa (AZ) Public Library’s summer.  “The topic (video gaming) is such a cutting edge one, and not only promises a fascinating and fun evening for some of our younger patrons, but also a very informative one,” says Young Adult Librarian, Robert Dana. The class is a partnership with Mesa Community College.

Playing video games for free starting in July at the Cumberland (RI) Public Library will give teens one more reason to visit. Jennifer Beiermann, coordinator of young adult programming says, “Video game events at libraries have become commonplace in other states in the region, but, so far, not in Rhode Island.”

Davenport (IA) Public Library is going to have a Teen Gaming Challenge to kick off their summer reading program. DDR, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band will be part of the festivities.

and not particular to summer:

Teen Tuesday in May will host Game On where teens can play the Wii and Guitar Hero at the  Rock Road branch of the St. Louis (MO) County Library.

Studies Shows No Link Between Violent Games and Crimes, Aggression

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Patrick Kierkegaard’s paper “Video games and aggression” evaluates the evidences that purport to show a stronger link between violent games and aggressive behavior, and is more review of the literature than original research study. His assessment is that there is no data to support the theory that videogame violence promotes violent crimes.

Also of possible interest: a Texas A&M study on violent video games and aggression, with results that indicate that trait aggression, family violence, and male gender are predictive of violent crime, but exposure to violent games is not.

Links are to abstracts; check your local state-funded database for full text or document delivery options!

Kierkegaard, Patrick. “Video games and aggression.” Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Nottingham, UK; [now at Department of Computing and Electronic Systems, University of Essex, UK] Journal: International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry 2008 – Vol. 1, No.4 pp. 411 – 417.

Christopher J. Ferguson, Stephanie M. Rueda, Amanda M. Cruz, Diana E. Ferguson, Stacey Fritz and Shawn M. Smith. “Violent video games and aggression: causal relationship or byproduct of family violence and intrinsic violence motivation?Criminal Justice and Behavior 35.3 (March 2008): p311(22).

Call for Submissions

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

forwarded with permission from Christine Crawford, editorial board member, International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations.

“As a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, I am happy to report that we are now working on the Spring Issue (#2) of 2009. The following is the description of the journal retrieved from the website:

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations is a peer-reviewed, international journal devoted to the theoretical and empirical understanding of electronic games and computer-mediated simulations. The journal is interdisciplinary in nature; it publishes research from fields and disciplines that share the goal of improving the foundational knowledge base of games and simulations. The journal publishes critical theoretical manuscripts as well as qualitative and quantitative research studies, meta-analyses, and methodologically-sound case studies. The journal also includes book reviews to keep readers on the forefront of this continuously evolving field. Occasional special issues from the journal provide deeper investigation into areas of interest within either gaming or simulations.

If you or someone you know has a paper that you would like to submit for review, please do so by June 15, 2008.

The full call is available on the IJGCMS website at: Paper submissions can be sent to ijgcms AT”

Games in Libraries Episode 2!

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Listen up at

Kelly Czarnecki talks about the documentary Second Skin, and plugs the Association of Virtual World’s Blue Book Guide to Virtual Worlds, that includes over 200 virtual worlds.

Eli Neiburger talks about the new Mario Kart for Wii, sharing a little history of kart games, and the new features of the Wii version of the game, including the coolness factor of the controllers and some information about the Mario Kart channel on the Wii.

Beth Gallaway gives an overview of Grand Theft Childhood, by Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson; Kutner will be a speaker at the GLLS in November.

Scott Nicholson discusses selecting games at the library as being no different than other collections: we need to apply policies, concepts and use mindfulness in game selection. Also, he shares the idea of creating a gaming experience (part of the research he’s doing over at the Gamelab) and how that may drive programming and collection decisions.

Lastly, registration opened this week for Games, Learning and Libraries 2008, at the DoubleTree in Oak Brook (just outside of Chicago IL) November 2-4, 2008. The conference is limited to 350 participants–register early! Call for presenters and other details are posted on the ALA Techsource website.

Want to contribute? We’d love to hear about your gaming stories–successes AND flops!–as well as game reviews and other topics. Send MP3 files 5-10 minutes in length to Scott Nicholson.

What did you think of the episode?


Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

There is a debate on the LibGaming discussion group about ways gamers are learning to be creative and innovative, and what skills they gain from gameplay. John Scalzo, the Video Game Librarian, says, “I don’t think tomorrow’s Bill Gates is going to find much inspiration from playing World of Warcraft today.”

Certainly, there are skills relevant to the business world and technology field that can be learned from gameplay. The transference of skills is touted in everything from Beck & Wade’s book Got Game to articles in Harvard Business Review to a IBM study for IBM by the software company Seriousity.

What if it’s not enough to just drop tools and access to resources in patrons laps? Is our role as librarians not simply to facilitate gaming programs, but to facilitate learning how to design games?

On a related note, this month’s American Libraries features an article by Brian Myers titled “Minds At Play,” about a library offering game design workshops that utilize Scratch, a free program with a drag and drop, graphical interface.

MIT, where Scratch was created, will be hosting a 3 day symposium this fall for educators, researchers and developers about using Scratch. Both lecture and hands-on sessions will be offered. Registration is $250, details are online at

Reader's Advisory For Gamers

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library has a GREAT booklist titled, Books for Gamers, online at Their list offers passive reader’s advisory for fans of action, sports, puzzle, and music games, as well as others. My own handout on reader’s advisory to gamers is posted online at

Another great passive way to deliver reader’s advisory is to create a “Read the Book? Play the Game!” display. Don’t forget to pull tie-ins in all formats – video, sountrack, manga, and more!

The successful reader’s advisory transactions do not start with, “I loved this book, and you will too.” It’s more reference interview than recommendation. Games have plot, story, setting, theme, character and genre, and librarians can offer reading suggestions by asking patrons what games they like to play.

If the title the patron offers is unfamiliar, ask for details. What is the game about? What’s your favorite thing about the game? From those responses, you can get a sense of genre and other elements, and then look for books with similar elements.

People play specific games for all types of reasons. Someone who loves Madden football may enjoy the sports play, but also the color commentary, the story element, or simply the competition. Someone who loves to play the Sims may enjoy the building, while someone else perfers the interior decorating, while someone else likes the character control. Thus, many types of stories may appeal. Just like with reading, a gamer plays a game and brings his or her own lens of experience to it, and takes away something different.

When advocating to staff about gaming, using Reader’s Advisory for Gamers is a great exercise. Here’s how! A handout for this exercise isaarchived on the Infopeople website at

  1. Do the first example as a group. Scenario: if a patron likes to play World of Warcraft (an online game much like Dungeons and Dragons, with a fantasy element, magic, good versus evil theme); what book titles, authors, and series might interest that patron?
  2. Discuss elements of the game, and ways people play it (straightforward questing, Player vs player battle, games like capture the flag, social or instructional (guild chat), treasure seeking (dungeon runs), roleplaying, creating machinima, raiding, crafting (mining, jewelry making, leathwork, tailoring and more) and/or skills (first aid, fishing, cooking, etc).
  3. Finally, we create a list of books that might appeal.
  4. We break into smaller groups, and each group is assigned a genre.
  5. They are given a few game titles, and a few “readalikes” and work as a team to complete the sheets.

How are YOU doing reader’s advisory to gamers? Provide examples in the comments, or send links to yoru booklists or photos of your readalikes display!

Submit a Proposal to Present at GLLS2008!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Want to present at the second annual ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium taking place on November 2-4 in the Chicago area? Find out more about submitting a proposal at The deadline is June 15, 2008.

Help us make GLLS2008 even better than last year’s event! Questions? Email me at

Also, for those of you interested in attending, there’s some preliminary information about registration, the location, and keynote speakers at Registration will open on Monday, May 12, and will be limited to 350 people, so sign up early.

Hope to see you there!

Library Gaming In the News!

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

I’m not sure if this is ripple effect from Gaming @ your library day or school vacation week… or fallout from the debut of MarioKart for theWii and Grand Theft Auto IV this week… or simply that gaming is snowballing, and becoming commonplace; there have been some great stories in the news this week about gaming events and programs.

The following articles and links may give you programming ideas or quotes you can use in making the case for gaming @ your library.

Gaming is a drop in program twice a week at the Dover (MA) Town Library; librarian Bonnie Peirce is anticipating participation in AADL‘s national leaderboards.

The Gearhart (OR) Elementary School has incorporated Wii Sports as a recess activity; librarian Marian Rose notes the social interactions between the students are helpful.

The Springville (UT) Public Library is hosting a monthly gaming night that runs the gamit of everything from Blokus to Dance Dance Revolution. Shelley Maag, senior clerk at the library, looks forward to serving this historically underserved age group.

Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. tournaments on the GameCube still reign supreme at the St. Joseph (MO) Public Library. Naruto may be on the agenda for next month’s tournament.

Public libraries in Virginia are offering a variety of programs, activities and services connected to gaming, including Guitar Hero programs and circulating collections of videogames.

Rock Band has come to the Corvallis-Benton County (OR) Public Library, along with Halo 3 and Guitar Hero. Librarian Andrew Cherbas facilitiates programs at multiple locations, tailoring the events to each library and the teens. The library’s blog features immpressive video footage of teen gamers that has been posted to YouTube.

The Allegany County (MD) Library System (MD) will be hosting “Gaming Wiik” (clever title!) as part of the summer reading program.

Speaking of reading, at the Chardron (NB) Public Library, circulation of teen materials has increased in the last year, from 20-30 items per month to 300 items per month, since the introduction of their gaming program that includes in-house use of a PlayStation and Madden ’08, Major League Baseball ’08, and the racing game Gran Turismo 4. Library Director Scott Kinney says, of serving the gamer niche, “We’re no longer a warehouse of books… we’re a community center, a social setting for everyone.”

Share your gaming success story in the comments below!