Posted tagged ‘DDR’

Target Audiences

May 13, 2009

Busy day today, I got to run two events, a web 2.0 workshop in the morning and then a video game program in the afternoon.  Both went great, with decent turnouts and some very engaged participants.  I particularly liked when our DDR free play turned into an impromptu dance party.

However, the one thing that is becoming aparent is we’re struggling a bit with our varied demographics.  My workshop was attended by a mix of staff and patrons, with somewhat differing levels of comfort with the material.  I’ve been planning my sessions for novices, but I have frequently had to rework things on the fly when they have turned into staff trainings or master classes.  Next week I’m running an evening talk on video games for the library, and have no idea what to expect.

Which brings me to today’s video game program.  We had attendees ranging from about 8 to 18, which made at least one parent a bit nervous about their child.  Now we’ve been trying to keep these programs fairly open, particularly as we’re struggling to have the time to properly devote to these sorts of programs.  We can’t afford to devote the staff time to running more than one of these programs a month, so we’ve opted to leaving them fairly open in order to maximize our audience on those occasions.  But the wide age range does make things a bit awkward sometimes.

Epic Fail

March 11, 2009

Today was our latest after school DDR event, and I’m pretty much ready to declare it a failure now.  We only had 5 participants today, and while there were some reasons that could have prompted an especially low turnout (first warm afternoon this year on a school day, fewer posters due to a printer failure) the fact remains that we’ve never had much luck with this program.

First of all, we’ve been unable to attract an audience during that time.  Our 5-8 session have done great, but we just can’t get teens to come right after school.  But also DDR has not been the draw that we hoped for.  Even those that came wanting to play quickly got bored and we’ve had to switch over to Rock Band every time.

I know other libraries have done very well with DDR, but I suspect we’ll never be one of them.

Talking About a Revolution

January 20, 2009

The Berkshire Eagle’s article on our DDR event was published today, and I am very pleased.  Not only did we get the first page of the weekly learning section and an above the fold link on the front page, but we got some nice art, a sidebar front and center advertising our video game events through the Spring, and a surprisingly good (yet still punny) headline, “You say you want a revolution”.

I’m impresed with the article too, in a way I’m often not where the Eagle’s concerned.  It’s a decent bit of publicity for us, while still remaining perfectly honest.  One of the attendees is quoted as saying they were just there for the food, while another says it’s nice to see the library finally catching on.  We don’t come off perfectly in the article, but we’re portrayed as an organization that is trying to be better.  I’m good with that.

Gaming Expands

January 15, 2009

Yesterday marked the start of our bi-weekly gaming innitiative.  We’re continuing with our monthly rock band nights, but now we’re trying to add in an after school program as well.  We had no idea what to expect yesterday, partly because of the different time, and partly because it was also the first time we tried hosting a DDR event.

The results were a bit mixed.  We were sort of hoping to attract a younger audience than the one we gained from the evening programs.  Instead we pretty much got some of our Rock Band regulars, that were curious about DDR, but determined pretty quickly that they liked Rock Band a lot better so we switched over.

On the other hand, we gained some publicity for launching the second monthly game day and got a reporter and photographer from the local paper to come out for it.  A number of the teens were interviewed on top of me and my co-conspirator so I can’t wait to see the article.

Speaking of which, I came across this one today for a Wii event elsewhere that I thought was particularly good, although horrendously titled.  Give it a read

101 Uses For A Wii

June 26, 2008

Now that we’ve gotten our grubby little hands on a Wii (along with Rock Band and DDR) a colleague and me have been trying to work out how best to use them.  We sadly do not have the means to set them up on a regular basis, so we are looking at periodic (possibly monthly) programming.  Our pitch was for teen gaming nights but now we’re both thinking that we should open up our target group some more (largely because most of the staff is interested so we’re assuming others outside the library would be as well).

So, I have a few questions and I’m very interesting in what peoples’ opinions are:

1) How do you market an adult gaming night and how different should it be from a teen one?

2) Is it better to treat a gaming event as a competition or are people more interested in just playing for the sake of playing?  Is this different for adults and for teens?

3) Would teens be ok with playing with 1 library staff team?

4) How much time can I justify playing the game in order to unlock things before our first game night? 🙂

What a Day

June 18, 2008

So I pretty much had most of my dreams come true at work today, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  It’s great but having to do the work involved all at once is a bit daunting.  To start with the consortia I belong to launched LibraryThing for Libraries today, which I am really excited about.  And then in the last 2 hours of the day I was given approval to purchase 3 new workstations, 10 laptops for a computer lab, a wii, Dance Dance Revolution, and Rock Band which will be used for teen programming.

I’m still digesting my surprising run of good fortune, I’m sure there will be more on all these things later.

For the love of Suda 51

April 1, 2008

I just finished playing Killer 7, an old Gamecube game by Suda 51.  This came right after playing through his Wii game, No More Heroes, I just had to see what else he could do.

For those who don’t know, Suda 51 is a writer/director for some of the most well crafted (which of course translates to low selling) games on the market today.  His pet subject are assassins, Mexican Wrestling, and the history of video games, and he tends to imbed these things into incredibly dark morality tales.  In Killer 7 you play a group of assassins (who may actually all be a single person) who are haunted by their murdered victims, most of who were serial killers who were glad to have been killed.  In No More Heroes you participate in an assassins league and constantly debate with your opponents whether the players are trying to prove their skills or merely get off on murdering others.  So yeah, these games are clearly intended for a mature audience.

And now how to tie this into libraries.  Video games have been a large cause lately, but most of the discussion seems to have focused on the sorts of games with a high potential for programming (DDR, Guitar Hero, etc…).  There has so far been very little talk about collecting games for their own sake.  What makes Suda 51 significant for me is that he is now a writer I intend to follow, the same as I would for a novelist, and he’s not the only one.

Video games have become a new outlet for telling stories, ones as worthwhile in pursuing as any other medium we currently collect.  Besides all of the unique content being produced (and keep in mind this is one of the more innovative mediums today) games have also been attracting some writers (Tom Clancy) and actors (too many to list here) that we already acquire.  We just need to start taking the medium seriously.

The Flying Car Speach

March 28, 2008

First, a rant:

I am a geek in many ways.  I own (and have read and as of yesterday have cataloged) the last 20 years of X-Men comics.  I’ve been a gamer since my Uncle spent time working on advertisements for Activision games on the Atari 2600.  But first and foremost I am a second generation, con-going, fan.  And if there’s one thing fandom has taught me it’s that the future is constantly changing.

In the 40’s the future was full of art deco buildings, jet packs and flying cars.  In the 80’s it was cyberpunk visions of A.I. creatures and mega corporations.  Currently we seem to be leaning towards a post-human, post-singularity Earth.

Now what does this have to do with libraries?  We as a profession tend to be entirely focused on present trends and have never quite come to terms with how quickly those trends can shift.  By following the professional chatter at the moment you’d get the impression that video games were a recent development and that the biggest fad involving them currently was DDR.  Using that as an example we’re either 20 years late or far kinder 5.  At that rate I fully expect us to be learning all about Rock Band just in time for the convergence Sandy Duncan is predicting to occur and kill the consoles for good.  And we still haven’t even begun to truly discuss games beyond the fact that it puts bodies in chairs.

This lack of foresight covers all aspects of the field.  Catalogers are still debating controlled vocabularies while patrons have tagged all our materials in far more meaningful ways than we could ever manage on our own, and in far less time to boot.  We’re still devising closed databases while musicians are finding feasible models for releasing their goods for free.  And personally I still don’t see what Second Life has to contribute at the moment, although I can foresee its descendants becoming a little more interesting.

Which brings me back to my main point.  We as a profession need to improve our ability to predict the future, and right now I mostly see us struggling to understand the present.  And that’s understandable, it’s a strange world after all, but it will only get stranger and we have to be prepared for it.  Otherwise we’re going to arrive in a totally alien future still wondering what happened to our flying cars.