Archive for the ‘GLLS2008’ Category

The Power of Play

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Jon-Paul C. Dyson, of the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester NY might exemplify change. The Strong Museum was formely focused on American history and American life;  it’s the second largest children’s museum in the country, with a large collection of toys, dolls (over 3,000) and games (1000 board games from the early twentieth century). Learned the audience wanted a hands on experience, changed their mission, and jumped from 68,000 to a half million visitors over last couple of years.  Expansions include the National Toy Hall of Fame, and Reading Adventureland, a history of children’s books. There is an intersection of games play and reading. What is play? (you know it when you see it! ) It’s not unique to species (birds, dogs, primates). Play is:

  •  Fun
  • Voluntary
  • Rewarding (its own reward)
  • In a Magic Circle (its own world)

6 Elements of Play

  1. anticipation
  2. surprise
  3. pleasure
  4. understanding
  5. strength
  6. poise 

 Benefits of Play

  • It refreshes us
  • Increases our flexibility

Next steps for libraries: do we seek that intersection of play, games and reading? Support some games? All games? Provide any play? Best play? Resources:

Gamer Dad: Helping Kids & Parents Find the Right Games

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

“You have to be a gamer to understand games!” ~Andrew Bub


Andrew Bub, parent and game reviewer and creator of the site Gamer Dad  promised that by the end of the session we would all be gamers. He built on comments from our other kyenote speakers: that everytime a new art form enters our media, hysteria ensues. Movies, horror comics, rock & roll, even penny dreadfuls etc. The video game discussion always seems to boil down to violent or catharsis? Perhaps Nintendo did a disservice by promoting the concept that video games are for kids.


What is a gamer? Someone who is …

  • Smart
  • Curious
  • Competent
  • Like new things
  • Not idle
  • Up for challenge
  • Wants to learn new skills
  • Not necessarily looking for blood & gore, violence & death – looking for a complex game that involves player interaction
  • Competing for bragging rates
  • (sounds like a lot of librarians I know!)

Andrew provided an overview of game genres, and concluded by sharing the kinds of questions he gets from parents.


Q. What future jobs are games preparing kids for today?

A. Programming and robotics for a start.


Q. Can you convince my parents to let me play Grand Theft Auto? (Since he endorsed Halo 3 as not all that bad, compared to real life)

A. “It’s up to your parents.” He advises them not to, but he doesn’t say NO and doesn’t judge parents who say yes


Q. Are games addictive?

A. They are gripping, in an “I can’t put it down” kind of way.


Q. Do games desensitize us?  

A. None of the hardcore gamers at PAX wanted to see Gamer Dad’s scar – too gory. Even young kids understand fake is fake and real is real, and the video game environment offers consequence free play.


Q. What games do your children play?

A. Wii, Hulk, High School Musical: Sing It





Real Data on Video Game Violence

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

“We got trouble right now, right here in River City” ~Larry Kutner, quoting the Music Man

Clinical psychologist Dr. Larry Kutner, author of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games started with breaking presentation rules to show the history of people’s response to violence in media. Attacking media for content has been, in the past, a distraction to detract for political scandal; at one point even BOOKS were under attack for the characters, plots and settings (penny dreadfuls gangster movies, comic books).  

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in 2005 found that 52 % of kids 8-18 play video games; 35 % play computer games. Unrecognized satire and teaching youth how to commit crime are major concerns. Teens and adults know the difference; young children may not. Other concerns:

  • DC Sniper – “He trained and desensitized with video games (Halo)” vs Shooting a giant alien bug doesn’t enable you to pick up a gun. Turned out the youth in question had a history of torturing animal and actually learned how to shoot with a real gun and paper plate targets.
  • Columbine: Harris & Klebold played the bloody shoot em up video game Doom vs these games have been played by millions of people, with only 2 outlayers.

Who are the school shooters?  More people are shot & killed in restaurants than in schools 2002 – there were 37 non drug non gang school related shooting in 27 years. Only 1 in 8 showed any interest in games. If there is a profile of the school shooter, it’s male, and had a history of depression.

In fact, violent crime is down, although arrests for simple assault are up! Why? People are more likely to call the cops, which leads to a mandatory arrest.  Are games linked to aggression and violence? Youth who play M-rated games are linked to higher rates of aggressive/deliquent behavior; girls who play games daily are more likely to bully; not causal, but do watch for patterns to see what else is going on that children’s life. Most kids who play M rated games at age 12, 13, 14 are JUST FINE. Note that the context of violence is not addressed in ESRB ratings and are a concern for parents; kids are concerned about language more than sex or violence.

 In the future:

  • Expect more trajectory research, similar to what has been in the past with youth and television viewing.
  • Games will promote creativity, learning and healthy social relationships 
  • Increased realism in games may mean less realistic video game violence 

Some good questions about child development followed. Kutner noted ethical games (Bioshock, GTA) may appeal at a specific age/developmental period. He also remarked that the majority of children’s play up until the age of 5 is VIOLENT. Taking things, grabbing things, etc. It has a purpose (see Bettleheim’s uses of enchantment). Also kids will do the great switcheroo: show a really violent game and ask it they have/rent it… and when the parent says no, offer a second, less horrible choice that was really the one they wanted, all along. 

GT System Update

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Eli Neiburger, AADL gave a fast update on the GTSystem that 29 libraries have signed up to use.

  • Tournament scheduling & programming
  • Check in/Registration
  • matchmaking brackets
  • scoring
  • leaderbaords
  • ability to develop a site theme or use another URL

Eli did a live demo of setting up a tournament and viewing the leaderboards to pull out data. Requirements to participate for DDR, Rock Band, and SSBB are posted online. Upcoming features:

  • flash driven console
  • video chat
  • library card swipe to register and SKIP the line
  • More games & modes
  • porting XP and levels, so that going to the library becomes part of the game
  • creation of clans and leagues 


Alignment: How Connecting Games Opens Doors

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Christopher Harris and Brian Mayer from Genesee Valley BOCES talked about their document, Board Games and the AASL Standards for 21st century learners that aligns board games with AASL standards.

Using a tag team approach, Brian spoke about selection: using authentic games–ones that are not designed to teach something specific (95% of those fail). Choose games with curriculum alignment–addresses specific content. Time is a factor that comes into play–a game that you can introduce, teach, play and discuss in 42 minutes (average class period). finally, think about return on investment–consider what the students will get from playing the game.

Brian tapped out and Chris talked about alignments using The Making of a President: 1960 to share how the game aligns to New York State curriculum and AASL Standards.

Paul Waelchlifrom St. Norbert’s College rotated in to talk about aligning board and video games with ACRL standards for information literacy; bringing it into daily life, even, using gaming as a bridge to learning and developing a specific skillset. Paul pointed out that Fantasy sports games are played by 19.4 million players–more than World of Warcraft! and playing fantasy football involves  active application of information literacy.

 Q. What is the role of the school librarian here?  

A. to be the liason, the entry point.


State of the Union: Gaming in Libraries in 2007

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Scott Nicholson from Gamelab presented findings from the 2007 gaming survey. PC & board gaming is down; console gaming is up. New this year: policy questions (4% expressly forbid gaming); information on tournaments (not working as well in low income environments). Gaming is not a standalone program – tie-in other library programs like summer reading. The most popular game in libraries is… Guitar Hero Everyone WON a copy of Backseat Drawing Goals:

  • providing entertainment
  • attract new useres
  • community hub (school libraries)
  • serve active users
  • create publicity (academic libraries)
  • introduce other service
  • improve skills/knowledge
  • new media support 

Negative Outcome: we annoy other users about 10% of the time Positive Outcome: 3/4 of the time, participants came back for non-gaming service  Cost: on average, $650 

  • 22 libraries – $0
  • 49 libraries- $10-50
  • 2 libraries – $15,000 & $25,000 (Columbus Metropolitan Library)

To REPEAT a program cost about $2 per user – libraries on average ran 14 programs a year.  If our goal is to reach underserved users, repeat programs is a way to change their behavior/use of the library. Next steps:Watch for assessment toolsTake the 2008 survey in 2009 (and keep good track of your programs so you can report in the future)   Requests from the audience – Please track:

  • use of teens/volunteers to staff programs
  • stats about circulating games 

 For prizes: Red Octane

More GLLS 08 Coverage!

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Who else is blogging/tweeting? If you are blogging/tweeting don’t forget to use glls2008 to tag your posts!  Please leave a comment with your URL so we can follow along with you.

Teens, Games and Civics: Amanda Lenhart, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

“97% of teens age 12-17 play video games” ~Amanda Lenhart

Amanda Lenhart, who seems to be the lead writer and research on Pew Internet & American Life’s teens and technology studies, spoke about the newest study, Teens, Video Games and Civics. She explained the methods of the  research, and the objectives: to find out who plays, what they play, and what they experience WHEN they play. Methods are phone polling – 1,102 youth age 12-17 and parents (margin of error: +/- 3%). Some results:

  • 97% of teens play videogames (39 out of 1100)
  • 50% say they played a game yesterday
  • 86% play on consoles
  • 73% play on computers 
  • 60% play on portables 
  • 48% play on cell phones
  • 99% of boys and 94% of girls are playing games (major difference is how long they play, only 18% of girls play more than 2 hours a day, compared to 39% of boys)
  • Younger teens play more frequently than older teens; broadband users play more frequently.

A snapshot of the daily gamer:

  • 65% boys, 35% girls
  • more likely to own portable devices
  • more likley to play as part of a guild
  • more likely to play with others online 
  • spend time face to face and communication with friends 

Teens are playing a variety of games; but there are some gender differences. Girls play fewer genres and have different preferences (girls: puzzle racing, rhythm, adventure sports; boys: action, sports, racing adventure, FPS)

  • 21% play MMOGs (World of Warcraft) — 30% of boys, 11% of girls
  • 10% play in virtual worlds that are easy to master (Club Penguin, Whyville)

Most popular games are not violent, and they tend to be franchises (GH, Halo3, Madden Solitaire, DDR, Tetris). 79% of M/AO gamers are boys; 21% are girls – why? – they are engaging, and great games. They are popular all around. Parental monitoring does NOT reduce M/AO rated game play; nor does witnessing anti-social behaviors in game.Gaming for teens is a way to socialize/be interactive. 42% play in person with people they now; 15% play with friends online; 42% ply alone. Speed is a defining factor – more likely to play with other people if they have broadband, not dialup.The Civics piece: what works?

  • Instruction in government
  • discussing current events
  • service learning
  • extracurricular activities (model UN)
  • Student voices in school/classroom

 Simulations Games that are siulations related to civics

 More civic gaming experience = More civic engagement

  • looking up election information online
  • fundraising
  • participating in protest or march 
  • volunteering 

Social Game Play (playing with people you know in the same room) correlates with civic engagement; civic gaming experiences are more equitably distributed than classroom civics experiences. Summary: Games are universal among teens; they are a social space; they hold promise for civics teaching and learning. 

GLLS Keynote: Marc Prensky

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

“It’s not about games. It’s not about simulations. It’s about ENGAGEMENT.” ~Marc Prensky

After a welcome from Mary on behalf of ALA and Judy from Verizon Foundation, Marc Prensky, author of Don’t Bother Me Mom, I’m Learning, took the stage. A quick poll revealed there are a handful of nonlibrarians: special educators, lawyers, museum staff; and even a few non-gamers (read: not gamers YET). Gamers present content differently; they invite the audience members to participate (i.e. raise two hands to have your say).

 Marc showed a history of librarians from the librarian who measured the Earth to Conan the Librarian, and challenged us to change the name and try new merchandising (read or die!).  The same kinds of stories we are used to hearing in books are available as spoken word, as graphic novels, as games.  Games are complex, and complex games, not trivial games, are the ones to pay attention to. Mini or Casual games (5 minute-2 hour investment) are still around – women over 40 play them on the Internet (checkers, solatiare, etc). It’s NOT what the kids are playing – kids are playing complex games (8-100 hour investment). If you listen to the press, you only hear the negatives. The truth is that games present learning with engagement. The results demonstrate it from executives, lawyers, doctors, sports managers, and workers who attribute their professional / career success to game playing. Why? The learn to role play an expert and address ethics, leadership and more. No media can be consumed in a vaccuum. We are accustomed to examining books and film – for gaming, we might not have the chops. We can try to play, we can examine it from afar, or we can start a dialogue. Before you say “STOP” ask, “Tell me more.” 

What are the outcomes from letting kids play games?  Reviews, mentoring, game discussion, more. Prensky suggests merging simulations and games (they have different attitudes, i.e. product focused vs. experienced focused).   Through games, kids learn to:

  • Cooperate, collaborate and work in teams
  • Make effective decisions under stress
  • Take prudent risks
  • Make ethical decisions 
  • Employ sicentific method
  • Apply & master skills 
  • Think laterally & strategically
  • Persist & solve difficult problems
  • Develop attitudes as discussed in Got Game

They learn game systems that are better than what we have in the educational (and to some degree, the library) world. There is lots of information AROUND games – reviews, FAQs, print materials, official sites. There are hundreds of mini-games on the web, covering all topics – many are student created. They can be hard to find. Prensky said we need librarians to catalog them! Check out the list of online games for libraries at ALA Gaming Resources Wiki. 

Commercial games are getting more & more educational i.e., Civilization IV, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Typing of the Dead, Food Force, Peacemaker, Environmental Detectives, Real Lives, Eyewitness, Revolution, Immune Attack Algebots, DimenXion, Pulse, Spore, Sim City 4. There are even AIDS education games. Get links to these and more from steps? “Offer game design competitions,” suggests Prensky. Pay attention to cell phone gaming, it’s growing fast. Pay attention to programming, it’s the, new literacy. Be a barrier buster to the barriers to gaming (money, time, knowledge technology, security, etc.).  The 21st century means digital life (e-life has benefits–no body language means no body odor!) and CHANGE.  Prensky predicts the future will bring:

  1.  mobil phone websites
  2. direct mind meld
  3. implants wearable really time environments
  4. technology 1 BILLION times for powerful than we see now
  5. sentient machines

At our NEXT CONFERENCE: Bring the smartest kids you know to talk about not what you are going to do TO kids but what you are going to do WITH kids.  Get the slides! Email; links: Games 2 Train Q. Why is programming the new literacy?  A. Only specialized people are fluent, just like in middle ages when you wanted someone to scribe a letter.  Q. How do we go about training ourselves and not simpy saying we are not digital natives?  A.  Forget abut Natives and Immigrants, let’s talk about how we are becoming “Homo Sapien digital” – the issue is working together with those who will NEVER get the chops.

Last Call for GLLS08 Proposals!

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

This MONDAY June 15th marks the deadline for proposals for the Gaming, Learning & Libraries Symposium in Oak Brook (a Chicago suburb), IL from November 2-4, 2008.

Topics of particular interest include game design, the gaming industry, accessibility, and assessment and evaluation of gaming programs. The Call for Presenters on the ALA TechSource wiki has details, or you can complete a form on Zoho Creator.

Good luck!