in Gaming, General, Libraries/Info Sci

Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Walt Scacchi – Opportunities for Game Culture and Technology in Public Libraries

When: Tuesday, December 05 2006 02:00 PM
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
Walt Scacchi – Institute for Software Research and Game Culture & Technology Lab, UC Irvine.

Gaming is a rapidly growing global industry.
Games as new media and cultural form
Game culture as social movement and career development

Many different genres of games
First Person shooters are very popular.
As an example, we’re watching video clips of Doom 3.

By one measure (these things are hard to quantify) there are 87,000 game servers online. Walt suggests you compare each server to a different TV channel., a site focused on development of open source software, has over 10,000 gaming/entertainment projects going. This is a substantial portion of the total number of projects.
While a very small percentage of people are actively working in the community, it only takes a few to connect everybody together. “It only takes a few Kevin Bacons to make connections”.

If a game comes with a Software Development Kit (SDK), players can hack the game to their heart’s content – big potential for education! The computer gaming industry is now helping people participate in the creation of new content. Again, 1-2% take part. But 1-2% of the massive gaming population is still very, very large. Likely in the millions.

“More to games than meets the eye.” It is a new medium.

Even new pseudo-languages are developing: l33t sp33k (leet speak) is a combination of numbers, letters and abbreviations.

L.A. public libraries allow games, and Walt points out an LA Times story about how kids are using the libraries as community centers again.

New Game related R&ampampampampampD efforts
Visual and performing arts
-Games as cultural media (
Humanitites and social sciences
-Games as graphic narratives for storytelling; machinima – game based cinema
Alternative game cultures and venues
-“Hot rod” game machines, LAN parties, and GameCons
-One violent game was modified into a dance club for players to hang out at
Science learning and technology education
-Games for informal education in science
-Learning STEM domains and practices through immersive (role-playing) games

The Sims: most popular PC game of our time.
-Also being modified into a storytelling system

-Some stories from The Sims have over 100,000 readers
-Readers can download the character models, insert them into their own copy of the game, and modify the story as they see fit

A new game, The Movies, is completely focused on creating your own visual story.
-Example: Serious dramatic commentary on the recent French riots. Called “The French Democracy”. The creator learned English just to make the six minute film. View it here.

Another subculture of modding your PC has emerged. The objective is to either make your computer the absolute fastest around (sometimes resorting to dry ice cooling and other extreme methods) or just plain look the coolest (one example is structured like the Scooby Doo van).

If gamers like to play after 9 PM, and libraries are running gaming programs, shouldn’t they be outside of regular hours too?

The average gamer today is 29 years old.

Could libraries offer courses in modding? As of now most of the instructional information is scattered around as almost folklore online.

Where can you have a LAN party? Anywhere there’s room. (picture of an event in a Korean subway station)

“Bringing games into K-12 environments is a road to hell – paved with good intentions.”
I personally disagree with this statement – what about Oregon Trail? Number Munchers? I mastered these games in my younger grades and know I learned from them.

Walt is focusing more on games in the world of informal education – museums, libraries, etc. Example game – Kinetic City. It teaches 6th grade science.

“Today five year old children can play a game that 20 years ago the concept got someone a nobel prize in theoretical physics.”