in Gaming, General, Libraries/Info Sci

Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Taming the Wild Geek – Eli Neiburger

When: Tuesday, December 06 2005 10:00 AM
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
“Taming the Wild Geek”

Eli is in charge of the gaming tournaments that Ann Arbor District Library runs. And, he ran the tourney here last night!

Why videogames?
-An $11 Billion business, and just getting started
-Fundamental component of the modern media appetite
-Boys! 95% of teenage boys play video games, a traditionally hard to reach audience.

To circ, or what?
-MARC Records (hard to match things up)
-Intense competition (Blockbuster, etc)
-Even making platform decisions is hard – we’re at the end of a generation of systems
-Kiosks and The Bun: Toys R Us can do an ‘always on’ gaming setting better, and without the rules we would have to put into place. So why bother?

“This is something you tell the board you’re doing. You don’t ask to do it.”
Games are content, just another type than books. A new way of storytime.

Establish a brand
-The AADL GT (Gaming Tournaments) has a logo that is its own product brand and identity.
-Tournaments labeled as ‘seasons’. Each season focuses on a different game (Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Dance Dance Revolution, Madden, etc) or a different age bracket. Each season has a champion
-As the event catches on, you can reproduce it and the audience will grow. The planning, like storytime, is essentially a one-time event
-Dance Dance Revolution is a pretty unimpeachable game to go with. Parent of a participant: “This is the first time he’s been out of bed before 11 all summer, and exercizing to boot!” The people who complain are the ones who don’t have any kids and are not reaping the benefits. There have been zero complaints from parents at AADL.
-One birthday party even came to an AADL gaming event

As public libraries, we have lost a generation. People in their 20s and 30s may, if we’re lucky, use the library

for story time. But that is all. We need to offer something to kids now that is relevant to them and will show the value of libraries. Creating a community of users like this, for free unlike other tournaments, is amazing.

View these programs if a loss leader, if you like, for getting people in the door. But this is selling the process short – story time is a core service, not a loss leader.

Recurring costs are very low. In year two of their program, almost nothing is being spent. The systems have already been bought.

Why Mario Kart? (and console games in general)
-Consoles are a great place to start, rather than PC games, for their simplicity. There is virtually no setup involved.
-Unlike MMORPGs, you are adding value with consoles. MMORPGs are social by nature, and there’s almost no point in bringing the people the together. Console games, on the other hand, are a definite value added experience.

-At home, 4 people can share one TV. At the library, 8 separate TVs are connected.
-The comparison between these tournaments and storytime keeps coming up. I like it, it seems appropriate.
-Where can PC and MMORPG games fit in? Run community events that do not focus on actually playing the game.
-Budget wise, a Gamecube is $99 including a game. A decent gaming PC can run $1000 easily.
-Nintendo’s games are the best on the market for all-ages gaming.
-Casual teenage gamers may dismiss Nintendo games as childish, but this is the audience that won’t come for anything less than the Mature-related games anyway. The true hardcore participants know how competitive and downright fun the games are.
-Speaking of Mature ratings, the video game ratings can be descriptive. Sometimes knowing a game yourself can provide a better selection process

“Nobody is too cool for Super Smash Brothers, despite the fact that you can play as Jigglypuff.”

Dance Dance Revolution
-Lower startup cost – one system, one game. Dance pads are as low as $20

Super Smash Double Dash
-6 month tournament season
-6-hour events
-Single player and Team Events
-$70, $50, $30 giftcards as prizes weekly
-Championship prizes: PSP, iPod, Nintendo DS, GBA, etc

Gaming tournament blog gives the community a focus between tournaments. They chat to each other, talk trash, and stay involved!
Elaborate statistics are kept about each match:
AADL has developed a Drupal module to handle all this on their web site, which will eventually be released to the public.

Running a tournament
-Open Play to start
-Build Brackets
-Qualification Rounds
-Keep Score
-Serve Food/Drink
-Elimination rounds
-Finals and award prizes
-Minimum staffing for this is two people – MC and a scorekeeper

Above and Beyond
-Play-by-Play and color commentary
-Project a cube, a camera view, or both
-Televise, or webcast it live!
-Make it a season
-Track stats
-Open play and tournament weekends

Now we’re watching the DVD that AADL put together, and was televised (live!) on community access tv at the tournament championship. Kids are doing the commentary! This is hilarious and extremely well put together.

“There’s a lot of things in the murky areas of copyright right now. All you can do is go ahead and wait for your cease and desist.”

Doing it on the cheap: Get the community involved – gaming shops, comic book shops, etc. “Follow the odor. If it stinks, you’re doing it right.” 🙂 Blogs and existing DDR community web sites are free marketing.

Selling it to the brass
-Popular with parents
-Again, like storytime
-Makes the library a focus of interest
-Guaranteed to induce gasps
-Promote your core services to a tough audience
-Its not all prostitutes and gunplay (that excuse is like saying we can’t get into DVDs because porn exists)
-They’re going to be taxpayers someday

What’s next?
-Retro Octathalon
-State of Gaming Panel with kids as panelists
-MaddenBowl Tournaments
-Online Mario Kart league – don’t even have to be at the library.
-Repeat it!

I’ll say more about this presentation in a wrapup entry for the day. I can’t say enough about how jaw dropping this all is!

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