in Gaming, General, Libraries/Info Sci

Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Day 1 Wrapup

When: Monday, December 05 2005
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
I am lounging in my Holiday Inn’s brilliantly designed window seat. Lights off in the room, gazing out at the city. A bit of ice cold air drifts in through the cracks, just enough to be noticeable and make me appreciate the room’s heat. What a day!

I woke up and walked over to the American Dental Association for day 1 of Gaming in Libraries (or the Gaming, Learning and Libraries Symposium, if you prefer). Upon exiting the hotel I was greeted by a blast of -4 degree wind chill. Maybe I don’t miss winter quite so much as I thought. But, everything is in easy walking distance. The CTA guest pass I bought has gone largely unused. I’m such a nerd for mass transit that I may ride it tomorrow just for fun 🙂

A continental breakfast was provided a half hour before the opening keynote. This was brilliant, in that it gave ample time for socializing and getting to know fellow attendees straight off. There’s 131 people here, it’s sold out!

The back of the room was lined with eight televisions and their accompanying Gamecubes, all networked together and ready for Mario Kart play during breaks. I settled into “Blogger’s Alley” along with Michael, Aaron, Jenny, Chris, and a couple of others. If you’d like more coverage of today, they either already have posts up or (I assume) will later. The bloggers’ area was formed by necessity, as we all crowded around the power strip. Wi-Fi was provided by an Apple Airport plugged into the room’s one Ethernet jack. The signal was rather spotty, but I blame that more on the ADA’s connection than the wireless side of things. Something just wasn’t meshing quite right. In the end, it served its purpose. I was able to blog in (almost) real time. Here’s the notes I took during each speaker:

Les Gasser (Keynote)
Steve Jones (Pew Report)
Constance A. Steinkuehler (MMORPGs)
Walt Scacchi (Gaming opportunities in public libraries)

Most are sort of a stream of consciousness style, and I will likely put together a more refined writeup at some point. If you’d like any clarification, just ask.

After the speakers, it was gaming tournament time! I took first in the Mario Kart section, and second in Dance Dance Revolution. Congrats to winner Beth! It came down to the wire, but she simply out-danced me 🙂 The tournaments were a brilliant idea, and again provided some great ‘get to know you’ time. Eli did a wonderful job of MCing the whole thing, as he is very experienced in doing at his library’s events.

Next up, five of us walked a few blocks to the Cheesecake Factory in the base of the Hancock Tower for dinner. Delicious, and great conversation. We talked tech, authors, DRM, the net in general, of course gaming, and any number of other topics. A short chilling walk back, and here I am. Decompressing.

Today’s speakers were very theoretical. It was all about establishing a base: why is gaming important, and why are libraries justified in getting involved? The presentations also provided a foundation introduction to the world of gaming for those unfamiliar with it. Constance Steinkuehler’s analysis of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs, the most unwieldly acronym ever) was jaw dropping. I knew some of the facts already, but she pulled it all together so well! I’m hoping to run into her tomorrow and bring up the topic of Alternate Reality Gaming. It seems right up her alley, and I’m sure she knows much about the concept already. On a visceral level, I also loved hearing the Pew Report stats read out loud. Playing video games does not systematically cause real life problems! And the demographics of gamers are not what you think. I want this shirt.

Tomorrow looks to be focused more on the practical side of things. We’ll hear a lot of case studies, examples of how libraries have successfully integrated gaming and related concepts into their programming. I’m particularly looking forward to George Needham of OCLC’s keynote and the later discussions of gaming in academic libraries.

I was chatting with some of my gaming friends online tonight, and many are very interested in what’s being discussed at this symposium. They and I are surprised it hasn’t gotten much coverage from the gaming press and blogs. But given that this event was amazingly planned in a mere four months, I can imagine that advance publicity was hard. But I do hear someone from Gamasutra will be around tomorrow.

But for now, sleep. Another full day tomorrow!

Pictures from the symposium, including mine and others’, can be seen here: