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speaking of gaming in libraries…

This just in (to my emailbox from my library director)…

Critics say ‘Oh no’ to Halo
Specifically, a library hosting Halo 2 contest

…an article from the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper.


25 July 2007 Posted by | gaming in libraries, glls2007, in the news, sad realities | 3 Comments

GLLS2007: Games Without Borders

As I wait for the closing keynote to begin, I have a Peter Gabriel lyric stuck in my head: “…games without frontiers, war without tears…

After many thanks to Jenny Levine and everyone who put together this first Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium, Liz Lawley spoke about Games Without Borders: Gaming Beyond Consoles and Screens. The projection from her not-a-Mac-laptop computer is flickering so I’m going to try not to look at the screen too much. I’ll just keep my eyes fixed on the sleek, silver beauty on my lap.

Liz’s life in blogs:

What is a game?

  • A form of play with goals and structure
  • A form of art in which participants make decisions in order to manage resources through game tokens in the pursuit of a goal

Activities that we usually don’t think of as games:

  • Summer reading clubs
  • Super Sleuth research activities
  • Learning 2.0
    • has goals, objectives, steps, prizes

What is the immersive experience we are creating in public libraries? — Stephen Abram

Examples of immersive game play…

Liz recommends Book Burro Firefox extension for finding books at local libraries and bookstores. Uses ISBN to find items by ZIP code. (I tried it… very cool!)

Help others understand gaming in ways that help make it real. Use pictures, stories, etc.

24 July 2007 Posted by | conferences, gaming in libraries, glls2007 | Leave a comment

GLLS2007: Gaming for Adults

Yes, we do play games.

Martin House and Mark Engelbrecht from The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) showed a cool, loud, video about gaming. Wish I could show it here, but I can’t, so here are some of text highlights:

Learning is about…

  • Developing social intelligence
  • Quick thinking skills
  • Problem solving sikills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Developing technology skills
  • Art, music, and much more

Gaming for adults

  • Strenghtens bonds between customers and librarians
  • Adult gamers are voters and taxpayers

Gaming is more than just the play. It’s also about…

  • Education/workforce delopment
  • Art
  • News
  • Video/movie creation
  • Music
  • Add-ons/ computer programming
  • Patron relationships

And now for the human content:…

PLCMC received an LSTA grant to bring gaming for adults to the library.

  • PC based gaming and board games
  • educational tie-ins
  • how does gaming effect library use or patrons opinion of the library?
  • study of adults
  • $69,000

What they did

  • Purchased 12 laptops ($32,000)
  • Puchased games
    • Call of Duty 2
    • Need for Speed
    • Age of Empires
    • Madden ’07
    • $2,000 worth of board game

How they did it

  • Event structure
    • Takes place at three different locations
    • 2 in urban low-income locations, 1 in affluent urban neighborhood
  • Planning
    • Equipment transport
    • Space planning and setup
  • PR and advertisement
    • Do not rely only on Web
    • Use sandwich boards
    • Print budget for color flyers


  • Staff belief that money spent on games would be better spent on books
    • We’re not taking away, we’re adding on!
  • How to respond to resistance
    • Set up equipment at a staff event or in break room
    • Encourage staff to attend events and learn more about gaming

Preliminary results

  • Majority of users from low-income zip codes
  • Age range primarily at 26+ with good representation in the 19-25 age group
  • Younger adults are naturally drawn to gaming events
  • Most have library cards
  • Board games do not get as much attention. Low flash factor.


  • Relationships between staff and patrons have expanded
  • Increased approachability
    • Develop relationships
    • Introduce patrons to other resources
    • Discover more of what the library has to offer


  • Funding
    • State your case
  • Staffing
    • Try creative staffing
    • Flexible scheduling
    • Flexible staff are key!
    • Help from staff throughout the system
  • After hours events
  • Coordinating equipment
  • Equipment damage and loss
  • Staff buy-in
    • Promote gaming through staff events

Kids are welcome, but mature games are not used when kids are present

Headphones are provided, but they were a detriment to the goal. People didn’t interact when under the headphones and ended up playing their own games by themselves. When the headphones were removed, there was more communication between players.

How to do it

  • Things to consider
    • System-wide gamin/equipment transport
    • Laptop security and transport
    • Setup time
  • PC Gaming
    • Requires commitment from staff and technical know-how
      • LAN networking
      • Updates
      • Machine setups with logins
      • Troubleshooting skills
      • Staff must know how to play the games
  • Hardware recommendations
    • Laptops w/1G RAM (2G if running Vista)
    • Extension cables
    • Surge protectors
    • Optical mice w/cords
    • Steering wheels w/force feedback
    • Avoid headphones
  • Games
    • Call of Duty
    • Battlefield
    • Need for Speeed or NASCAR Racing
    • Madden
    • Age of Empires
  • Things to expect
    • Things may start slowly
    • PR is difficult — word of mouth is most powerful
    • Numbers will increase slowly
    • Once the word is out, events will be popular
    • Experiment and adjust to what works
  • Programming suggestions
    • Regular, recurring events
    • Adequate staffing to monitor and track equipment
    • Keep software in central location to avoid theft
    • Etc.
  • Planning
    • Play day for staff
    • Staff event to showcase materials and provide opportunity for experience
    • One person in charge of hardware sign-out
    • Insurance for hardware and software
    • Allow staff to practice and play at work

24 July 2007 Posted by | gaming in libraries, glls2007 | 2 Comments

GLLS2007: Digital Downloads for Gamers

…with Beth Gallaway, who identifies different types of digital downloads:

  • Games that can be downloaded and installed locally
  • Digital game lists
  • Subscription services for users to download @ home or library
    • GameTap
      • Online arcade of 900+ video games for PC platform. No Mac support.
      • $6.95-$9.95 per month
      • 8 logins per location
      • No public performance allowed
    • Games On Demand
      • For Comcast subscribers
      • $15 per month
      • E, 10+, T, M
      • Kids version available @ $7.95/month; games are rated EC/E
    • PlayFirst
      • Mostly PC, but some for Mac
      • Demos available
      • $19.95
      • Ratings are not available
    • Direct2Drive
      • PC Platform
      • Too many titles to count
      • Rated E-M
      • Includes reviews, cheat codes
    • Shockwave Unlimited
      • Ad-free access to downloadable games
      • PC platform
      • $4.95-$9.95 per month
    • Overdrive
      • Games are accessible via library card
      • Productivity and arcade-style games
      • PC platform
      • 70 titles
      • Cost ???
    • StepMania
      • DDR for your fingers!
      • Dance pad w/USB connection can be plugged in to computer
      • Open source
      • PC and Mac versions available
    • Snood
      • Puzzle game
      • For all ages
  • Games for kids
    • Apple Corps
      • Mr. Potatohead online, but with other fruits and vegetables that are not copyright protected
      • Runs on any computer
      • Advertisements are questionable
      • Free and fun
    • Funbrain
      • Supports math, science, and reading curriculum
    • Girls Go Tech
      • Girl Scout site with games related to badge completion
    • Neopets
      • Virtual electronic pets
      • Very commercial
    • WebKinz
      • Users purchase plush pets that come with a unique secret code
      • Users care for their pets online
  • Games for adults and teens
    • Darfur is Dying
    • Runescape
    • Kingdom of Loathing
    • iFiction
      • Interactive fiction
      • Archive of 250+ text adventure games
      • Lots of reading
    • Set Game
      • Pattern recognition game
      • Enhances math and pattern recognition skill
      • Great mental calisthenic!
    • Education Arcade
      • “Learning through authentic and engaging play”
    • Games for Change
      • Uses games to explore management and leadership challenges in the public sector
      • Games in educaiton
      • Training
    • Gaia Online
      • 3D digital community
      • Anime style
      • No download or install required
    • Second Life
      • 3D virtual world community
      • Requires download, install, and strong Internet connection

Beth also recommends Prima Strategy Guides, a print-on-demand service for instant access to strategy guides.

24 July 2007 Posted by | gaming in libraries, glls2007, software | 1 Comment

GLLS2007: Big Games

AmyRunning way late today. I was up most of the night with Amy and her upset stomach. My sofa is comfortable, but not nearly as comfy as my Swedish foam mattress. But I digress. On with the keynote.

Oh. One more thing. I’m nowhere near a power outlet, so we might be separated before the end of the presentation (my battery currently reads 40 minutes). If that happens, I’ll hook up later with notes from another blogger who’s following the conference.

Where were we? Greg Trefry from gamelab (think Diner Dash) spoke about Big Fun, Big Learning: Transforming the World Through Play. I like that idea. If only.

Greg is the Festival Director for the Come Out & Play Festival. The 2007 festival is this September in Amsterdam. The festival moves back to New York. (NOTE TO LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION: This might be a great professional development opportunity for me and Jenn!) Details about the 2006 festival are available here.

“Big games” are both traditional and silly. They have their roots in folk games like tag, scavenger hunts, capture the flag, and others.

Other big game influences:

  • Sports
  • Alternative reality games (see I Love Bees for an example)
    • Internet based
    • Scavenger-hunt like
    • Clues embedded in Web sites
    • Played largely in online communities
    • Conceptual art
    • Social experimentation

Examples of Big Games


Greg visited several New York libraries of different sizes to catalog their “assets” and how they could be used for big gaming.

  • Building features (e.g., the lions in front of the NYPL)
  • Collections
  • Spaces
  • Symbols
  • Unique identifiers (barcodes on books)
  • Databases
  • Librarians (or “referees,” if you will)
  • Displays
  • Refreshment areas




Well, the power cut out on me before I could finish the sentence! So I tried a novel idea: I grabbed a paper and pen and took notes… and here they are:

Ideas for games that could be made in the library:

  • Secret Agent
    • scavenger hunt game
  • Collecting codes
    • searching old materials for clues to solve a mystery
  • Then and Now
    • use digital photo archives to create a game in which players interact with the local community
  • Rent Control
    • use historical matierals to create a game that interacts with neighborhoods
  • Alternative reality game
    • Embed clues in existing materials to create a long narrative that players read through to find clues
  • Code breaking games
    • Use world language collections to make and break codes
  • Dewey’s Demons
    • Players check out materials embedded with codes. Codes are considered “creatures” that players collect and care for.

The library is a new play space!

  • Look around
  • See normal activities as goals
  • Create simple ways to track movement
  • Playtest thoroughly
    • Games won’t work the first time
    • Make changes and play again

24 July 2007 Posted by | gaming in libraries, glls2007 | Leave a comment