Posted tagged ‘video games’

On Video Games

September 29, 2009

Over the last few days I’ve had a few people ask me about possibly building a circulating video game collection at my library.  And much to my surprise I’ve wound up as someone who is strongly against the concept.

I think games are great for libraries and I would love to start this collection, but I just think this is a really awful time for us to do so.  After budget cuts our YA, DVD, and music budgets are nearly non-existant, so why do games rate over those?

I think the answer is because they’ve suddenly become trendy in the profession.  Every conference includes a game night, every mailing list has a games thread, and every issue of American Libraries seems to have an article on the subject.  So now games are important, although many of the librarians who have been given this belief don’t really know much about them.  Over the last few days I’ve had to explain the differences between the multiple consoles, that our standard vendors (with the exception of Amazon) don’t really carry them, and that the average gamer is 35 and not 8.  

There’s also the logistical side of things.  I spend an enormous amount of time testing out a/v items for damange.  To do that for games we would need one of each console unless I start taking work home with me (which is hardly ideal).  Somehow I don’t see the money for this coming our way in the near future.

So building a games collection for now is bad, but I’m still looking forward to our Rock Band night tomorrow.

Against My Wishes

August 5, 2009

I was recently asked if I’d be interested in sitting down with our circ and childrens librarians to discuss the possibility of building a video game collection at my library.  The answer was yes of course, so I’m greatly looking forward to that discussion.

However, as much as I might love the idea of us having such a collection, I’m having a very hard time building up a good case for why we should have one at this moment.  That really hurts to admit, but I can’t argue with the budget.  Our collection development budget was recently gutted and we’ve lost hours to our YA department.  We also desperately need to upgrade our public computers.  So as much as it pains me I would much rather have those things before allocating money towards a games collection.

And beyond that there’s the logistics issues.  In order to support such a collection, we need more consoles, even if just for the purposes of testing discs to make sure they work.  We have a Wii for our Rock Band/DDR events, but that’s it (maybe I could bring discs home to try out on my xbox if necessary).  I think getting a game collection would also finally push us to the point of needing a disc repair machine, which would cost a few grand.  We seem to be the only library without one now a days, but I’ve run the numbers a few times and its never been cost effective for us to have one previously.

Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but I don’t think this is the time.  Thoughts?

Library Day In the Life: Thursday

July 30, 2009

6:15 a.m.: Wake up to my alarm going off for once.

6:45-8 a.m.: cereal, coffee and the usual Daily Show/Colbert Report routine

8-8:50 a.m.: nearly late for work playing an MLB game on X-Box that went into overtime, saved by a 2 run homer in the 11th.

9 a.m.: Grab an armful of items from the local history pamphlet file items on my way to the office, get side tracked by a minor auto-update issue on one of our public computers.

9:15-10:30 a.m.: Work through local history items while occasionally being distracted by staff room issues and fallout from yesterday’s supervisor meeting (damn still have to edit and distribute the meeting minutes).

10:30-noon: Set up the auditorium for our Rock Band event.  Takes an hour to download 5 new DLC tracks (Breed, It Hurts, Pretty Fly for a White Guy, Prayer for the Refugee, and Liar (It Takes One to Know One).

noon-12:30 p.m.: One more piece of original cataloging and some e-mail catch up.

12:30-1:30 p.m.: Lunch on the run as I head to the mall for Battlestar Season 4.5 (the full set looks so good on the shelf together).

1:30-2 p.m.: Rock Band set up pt.2, the food edition.

2-5 p.m.: Our first Summer afternoon video game event.  Not a great turnout sadly, but some of the better conversations with our regulars.  And for a change, Don’t Stop Believing was only played once.

5-5:15 p.m.: Wii speed cleaning

5:20-7 p.m.: Left over tacos and one of the Librarian movies.

7 p.m.-bed time (as I’m writing this early): Gears of War All Fronts Party day 2

Pressures

June 11, 2009

Last night I did something very bad and bought myself an X-Box.  Now the sad part of this is that I didn’t really get it to play games…well not directly at any rate.  

First and foremost I got it for the social environment.  Nearly everyone I know and rarely get to see is on it, so it’s a means of staying in touch.  For a gaming console it makes an incredible social platform.

But then there’s also the professional reasons.  I’ve picked up a reputation as the techy/gamer guy that actually extends beyond my own library.  Sadly this often translates to being a Mac guy which isn’t the case; this week alone I had to bow out of fixing both a MacBook and an IPod.  But I sort of feel forced into being more of a technogeek than I’m comfortable with sometimes because there aren’t enough others interested in steping into the role.  And occasionally that role means I have to buy myself a new toy.

And of course I’ve been wanting to play Gears of War.  Incidentally my gamertag is bibliomane

Gaming In Libraries

June 9, 2009

Just for any librarians living under a rock, I have to share the amazing online Gaming In Libraries course currently being run by Scott Nicholson.  Scott is teaching this class asynchronously as a month’s worth of YouTube videos.  It’s a real course and the students who are signed up for it have been asked to record rebuttals to Scott’s posts, but it has been opened up to the public, and it’s brilliant.

Conflicts

May 20, 2009

Tonight at 7 at the Berkshire Athenaeum, I’ll be talking about the current state of video games, and what they have to offer libraries.  Tonight is also the first of Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays for the year.

So for everyone in the Berkshires, forget about spending the evening enjoying the gorgeous weather, the live performances, and supporting the local economy downtown.  Who needs that when you can listen to a fine talk on why video games matter, and then try out the library’s Wii for yourself.  All sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

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.

Yes!

March 24, 2009

Yesterday was yet another one of our Rock Band nights, but something felt different this time.I think we’ve finally crossed the tipping point.  Turnout was great!  And we were on an off day thanks to being kicked out of the auditorium to make room for our book sale.  A few regulars were absent, but we retained all the new faces from the last one, and picked up more through word of mouth (our advertising really isn’t doing anything).  I particularly liked that we had one group come simply because they were following some of the others to see what was going on, and they stayed for all three hours!  

I think more fun was had by all this time too.  There was tons of socializing, a surprising amount of headbanging (unfortunately literally in one instance), and just a great vibe in the air.  Everyone asked about next time, three people volunteered to bring extra equipment (including an x-box), and one even offered to make a donation.  By the time it was over I felt completely and totally elated (and subsequently had trouble falling asleep, but still managed to wake up at 6 am like usual).

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.

Holding Us Back

February 27, 2009

Just when you start to think that the world’s image of libraries is begining to catch up to the reality, something like this (via Halfawake) has to happen.  Yes the state auditor of Nebraska is investigating a library for daring to purchase a Wii and for trying it out on work time.  Furthermore, the state was spurred on by a local news report that all but condemed the library for being a library.  Oh, and we’re only talking about $400 or so to begin with.

So, a story about my new favorite patron for those doubters that are still out there.  We have a high school student who came to my library a few weeks back to meet a student he was helping to tutor.  While there he toured our remodeled local history department, gushed over our new equipment, and learned of our monthly Rock Band nights.  He also found out that I had challenged some of the players in the past and instantly threw down the gauntlet with me.  

So he showed up, brought some friends, lost (but only because he selected one of my best songs), and promised to come back with more friends next month.  He’s also going to advertise our game nights on the high school’s radio station, and he even gave an impromptu speech to his scout troop about how the library’s not just about books anymore.

You can’t ask for better word of mouth than that.  Our Wii was one of the best investments we’ve made, and the up front cost for it was nothing when you consider how many programs we’ve been able to run using it (hiring a children’s performer can cost a few hundred for a single show).

So Nebraska, get with the program (not to mention the 21st century) and don’t ostracisize a library for doing something that will continue to let it be a vital part of its community.