T h e U t o p i a n L i b r a r y

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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

Resistance

  • 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.

Outcomes

  • 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

Hurdles

  • 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

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