Gaming, Virtual Worlds, and Libraries

Wow, week 12 is here! And it is the end of the semester. Where has the time gone?

I am a casual gamer. Whether it be tabletop or computers, when I game I game for simple entertainment. Actually, my taste for games is much like my taste in books, movies and television. 90% of the time I don’t want to think. Or strategize. As a result, I tend to play simple platform games with no interaction with other users. The last two games that I have played for any length of time are Plants vs Zombies and Kingdom of Loathing.

Kingdom of Loathing is online gaming lite, in that it is a turn based rpg, with quests and loot and a pvp option, but it is graphically limited. And that is appealing to me. I don’t need/want heavy graphics, I have spent years watching friends play WoW, FPSs, and other games and never really found it appealing. It might be because I am a visual-reading & kinesthetic learner, sound & graphics are not my preferred manner of interacting with content.

But, I do appreciate that millions of people love gaming, and would never want any limitations placed on people wanting to game.

Virtual Worlds:
I have spent about 3 hours total in second life. In that time, I managed to lose my clothes about 5 times, run around in circles and started dancing and couldn’t stop. That was on top of the 3 dimensional world confusing me completely. So, it was embarrassing, frustrating and not enjoyable. As a result, I have absolutely no intention of returning. From my own readings on Second Life online and in the literature, it has not caught on in Canada really, and seems to be fading. Maybe there will be more virtual worlds in the future that don’t require such a steep learning curve, but until then, I’m sitting them out.

Gaming & Libraries:
While I cannot see a place for virtual worlds in libraries (or libraries in virtual worlds), I do know that there is a place for gaming in libraries.

My library has participated in National Gaming Day for the past 3 years and it has been very well recieved. We have a large meeting room where we have a console gaming area set up, and an area for tabletop gaming: chess, scrabble, bananagrams, and more. It is great fun and people of all ages enjoy the event.

We also have programming for kids and teens that involve console gaming- we have a Wii and play Rock Band, sports games and more. We tend to buy games that are multi-player to allow multiple kids play at once.

As well, we just upgraded our public computers, so now patrons can play graphics intensive games, which is great- and I haven’t heard if our “Super Computer” has been set up, but that would allow for more interaction as it will have a mic, so real gamers can really engage with other players.

Other than offering events and hardware, libraries can also highlight to parents and educators that online gameplay is a valid learning experience! Users have to be rather tech savvy to access and learn the games, and they are engaged on a number of levels when playing (reading, analyzing the scene, playing strategically, planning ahead, learning specific controls…).

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One Response to Gaming, Virtual Worlds, and Libraries

  1. katharine22 says:

    I think it’s really neat that your library has paid such attention to gaming! It’s nice to hear that they’ve participated in the National Gaming Day for multiple years, when I know many libraries that don’t. Also, your super computer sounds awesome! I do wonder if there would be issues with noise levels, especially with mics or multiple players surrounding one computer to watch each others progress, but from the sounds of it, your library has it under control – so awesome! 🙂

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