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Scott Nicholson: “He is Very Funny”

…said Michelle via Twitter about Scott Nicholson‘s very entertaining Gaming, Learning, and Libraries keynote on The State of Gaming in Libraries.

The Library Game Lab at Syracuse exists to explore “the intersection of gaming and libraries

  • Goal of Library Game Lab…
    • Ludology: the study of games and play
    • Is focused on recreational games in libraries (vs. in educational settings)
    • Uses science to understand phenomena
  • How does the LGL see gaming?
    • It’s bigger than we think
    • Lacks basic research, best practices, and basic questions


#1: Understanding the State of Gaming, a survey of public libraries (see Nicholson’s white paper, The Role of Gaming in Libraries…)

  • 77% of libraries surveyed support gaming
  • 43% run gaming programs
    • types of gaming programs: board, traditional, console, physical, summer reading, card, computer, roleplaying, other
  • 20% circulate games
    • types of games circulated: Board/card, PC games, puzzles, console games
  • 82% allow gaming on public computers

#2: Gaming Census (not yet available in print)

  • Goal of the study: to collect information about every gaming program run in libraries from 2006
    • school, special, public
    • urban, rural, suburban
    • small, medium, large
  • Basic questions
    • what was done
    • goals
    • outcomes
  • Game circulation statistics
    • PC Games — 64.2%
    • Console games — 33.6%
    • Board/card games — 27.9%
    • Handheld games — 6.4%
  • Users served by gaming in libraries
    • Total gaming programs reported for 2006: 3,473
    • Unique programs described: 179
    • Average program frequency: 20
    • Average participation: 33
    • Total program participation: 90,812
    • 56,639 unique users
  • Aspects of gaming programs
    • Educational 10%
    • Competitive 50%
  • Activities from gaming programs
    • Console games
    • Analog games
    • Computer games
  • Why do libraries organize gaming programs?
    • Source of entertainment for community members
    • Provide additional service for active users
    • Attract under served group of users to library
    • Increase library role as community hub
    • Recognize cultural significance of gaming
    • Introduce users to other library services
    • Etc.
  • Single most important goal
    • Attract under served users, bring in new people
    • Increase libraries role as community hub
    • Provide service for active library users
    • Provide source of entertainment
  • Outcomes
    • Reputation of library improved with participants
    • Users attended the gaming program and returned to the library another time for non-gaming services
    • Users attended the event with friend and improved their social connections with those friends
    • Users attended the gaming program and also used other library services while there
    • Users improved their social connections with other previously unknown members of the community
    • Additional publicity for library
    • Users request more participatory services
    • Users improved skills/knowledge
    • Users request new and changed services
    • Users develop assets to help them become involved with library
    • Library developed community partnerships
    • Users attended gaming program but not return to library

In summary…

  • More than 90,000 users are involved with gaming
  • Half of programs are competitive
  • Entertainment is important, but not primary goal
  • Gaming programs improve reputation of library, encourage use of other services, improve social relations

What’s next?

  • Further analysis of data
  • Funding
  • Repeat random sample for other library types
  • Repeat census in 2008

Other projects

  • Classification of games
  • Games for the public good
  • Library Game Lab Nexus
    • Online portal to connect librarians, researchers, students, gaming industry, library vendors,
    • Will be individual-focused to include representatives of organizations and people who do not represent organizations

Are games appropriate?

  • Some aspects are appropriate, others are better served by private interests
  • Requires more research
  • If games are appropriate…
    • What’s the best way to do it?
    • How do we know if it’s working?
    • How do we improve?

Preparing the future: IST600: Gaming for Libraries

  • 3-credit graduate course @ SU iSchool
  • Meeting 3 weekends in Syracuse, then online
    • Role of games in society
    • Experience variety of games
    • Match games to users
    • Marketing programs

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