Remote Desktop

With flashy Web 2.0 applications popping up left and right, my favorite new tech tool is a little closer to home:

Plain old Windows Remote Desktop.

If you haven’t heard of it, remote desktop allows you to control a computer at a distance online. Other than a slight delay in accepting commands, it works just like using windows. The desktop of the remote PC shows up on the one you’re using.

Sure, it isn’t perfect. I wish I could drag and drop files between computers when logged in remotely. But for basic productivity, remote desktop is a lifesaver. When I’m at the reference desk and things are slow, I work on projects that require my office computer. When I’m at my office PC and need to reference travel plans on my computer at home, I can do that too. Of course, I have to plan ahead and leave the computer on that I’m trying to access.

During the Gaming in Libraries conference, I needed to get some information from e-mail stored on my work computer. I sent an e-mail from my laptop to the co-worker I share an office with. She pushed the power button on my PC, and voila! Full remote desktop access to a computer in Alabama from Chicago.

Maybe I’m easily amazed, but we do live in amazing times.

Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Semi-final thoughts

At some point I would like to write up my closing thoughts on Gaming in Libraries. For now, here’s some bits and pieces from the closing speakers’ panel:

These students, coming up with gaming and now with libraries with gaming, will come to universities and will have expectations.

Libraries are a center for community innovation, and always have (or should have) been.
Books are a technology too, just an older one.

Is gaming finally reaching critical mass?

Needham: “the hell with fines” Litclick – This program is a netflix model – books to your door by mail with no due dates. Also, libraries won’t survive on information alone. The advent of viable micropayment systems could blow us apart in the supply chain.

Again, libraries as the ‘third place’. There’s home, work/school, and where else?

Is policy mostly a mechanism for annoyance avoidance?

Not a good idea to repeat the “coming in for videos as a loss leader” methodology? Videos and DVDs were justified in libraries because of course people using them would check out books as well. But, book circ stats have not kept pace with A/V materials’. Gaming in libraries needs to be justified and stand on its own.

If A/V materials are the growth area now, what’s going to happen when direct delivery (via the internet, for example) is king?

Licensing issues – no OCLC Netlibrary titles are allowed on iPods. But, Random House is disaggregating their books. What happens when users can buy books by the page? Convenience will always trump quality. It is our job to make quality convenient.

OK, so things veered away from gaming a bit at the end. But, still very interesting!

I saw wonderful demonstrations of programs this week, and also came away with a much better understanding of the intellectual background and basis for promotion of gaming. Kudos to MLS and all who contributed to the event!

Gaming in Libraries 2005 – What Libraries Can Do for Gamers – Beth Gallaway

When: Tuesday, December 06 2005 02:00 AM
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
Beth gets to close us out as the last speaker!

Seven things you can do tomorrow to make your library more welcoming to gamers:
1. Use games to do readers advisory
2. Be a strategy guide
3. Embrace your inner technogeek
4. Be flexible
5. Plan change
6. Immerse yourself in pop culture… especially video game culture
7. Try some games!

Beth’s library gaming blog:

Reader’s Advisory:
Instead of recommending books based on their recent reads, ask them what movies/tv shows/games they like.
For example, roleplaying and MMORPG games can mean they’d probably enjoy fantasies or Arthurian legends. Historical simulations like Civilization or Oregon Trail might lead to biographies, historical fiction, mythology, etc. Sports games mean sports books or maybe even statistics. Strategy/puzzles can point at mysteries or puzzle books. First person shooters can mean military fiction, sci-fi, etc. Players of simulations like The Sims might enjoy romances or sociology or architecture. Japanese Manga and Anime can be recommended to Katamari Damacy, Fainal Fantasy players or Pokemon. You get the idea!

(Lots of audience suggestions and questions here, most of which I’ve touched on elsewhere.)
Also there’s a list of gaming-related books suggested for Librarians to read. I see Chris typing it up, and its somewhat long, so go check his site out 🙂

Even at a pre-school level, boys are attracted to the games.

Be a Strategy Guide:
-Don’t be a level boss
-Show, don’t tell
-Make it interactive
-Get them started
-have a free-for-all
-Ask for a demo of expertise from teenagers
-Be open minded

Embrace your inner technogeek:
-Upgrade (via grant money?)
-Get a screen name
-You can’t break it – just try the new tech!
-Pilot projects
-Read tech news

Be Flexible:
-Change the space – reorganize, new posters, etc.
-Flexible furnishings
-Say yes – it is good to help customers/patrons do what they want, within rules of course
-Go meta – deal with both small details and the broader picture
-Customize – create a library toolbar? RSS feeds? etc.

Plan Change:
-‘Sticky’ content – Periodically updated pages (ex: blogs) that users like to check for new material
-Accept change – Perhaps the hardest item here

Immerse yourself in pop culture:
-Know what’s hot/what’s not
-Pop goes the library
-Know about crossovers (Doom, the movie, or music/soundtracks from games, books based on games, etc.)
-Video game culture – RedvsBlue, Penny Arcade, PvP, etc. Pay attention to the game kiosks at Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Lurk around and see what kids are playing.

What services from games can libraries adopt?
-Free services – chat, music, articles, movies, games
-Home delivery/online content delivery
-Social bookmarking or tagging within the library catalog
-Nonjudgement from librarians
-Avatars / immersive library tutorials
-Food – we eat at our computers

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Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Kelly Czarnecki, Matt Gullett – Supporting a Culture

When: Tuesday, December 06 2005 01:00 PM
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
Supporting a Culture: Gaming at the Library

Matt and Kelly work for the Bloomington Public Library. Matt is the IT Services Manager, and Kelly is the Teen Services Librarian.

This presentation will be practically oriented.

What do teens represent in the life-cycle of a library patron?
-Catch them now, and Be Relevant. They’ll be hooked into other services for life, not just storytime for their kids.

Goal: Use tech to serve the patrons.

Game Fests
-Why would they decide to do this? Gamers were on staff and got the ball rolling.

Now we’re watching a mini-documentary Bloomington put together to promote their Game Fests. They have a bunch of board games out to play too, which isn’t something I’ve seen very much in other presentations so far. Dance Dance Revolution is of course a major focus, with large groups of kids gathered around.

Game Fests are run quarterly in a room of 16 powerful networked computers. This is also unusual among other presentations here! Even more, Battlefield 2 (A war-themed first person shooter) is their main event.

Later, a program involving Gamecubes and Mario Kart, a la Eli’s earlier program, was added to the mix. It has been perhaps more popular than the shooter.

Food is another incentive for attendance – pizza and water. “We used soda once, they geet all hopped up on it. We learned our lesson.”

-Board games are very affordable
-Supported by administration – labor and food were covered in grant activities

There have been no problems with support from administration or parents! In fact parents have been praising it, and admin has been cheering them on.

Lessons Learned
-Branding – Posters and art are themed to look like comic book covers. When high schoolers started laughing at the original ‘trendier’ name, it was changed to the more straightforward Game Fest.
-Experience – Much of their work has been drawn from existing programs like Eli’s.
-Competition – Just an open gaming session is perhaps too unstructured, and doesn’t run as smoothly without organization.
-Learned from youth – Talked to the teens, upgraded equipment along with what they wanted, etc.

Community Support & Promotion
-Game stores (EB Games, Best Buy)
-Acme Comics
-Marketing at high schools by running game sessions at lunch time
DDRfreak (a major DDR fan web site)
-Grants and alternative support/funding

Neither Kelly or Matt are big gamers, but appreciate the culture and get involved.

Any networking in community groups help – prizes, promotion, etc. Plus others who see the events, even if not participating, get interested in the library.

They’ve also built a collection of gaming-related books. Lots of kids come in looking for information on careers in gaming, for example.

Related: Next Generation Computer Club –
-Not just games. Multimedia, creating web sites, digital music, etc.

I had to step out for a few minutes, but it looks like there’s a library-sponsored guild in World of Warcraft! Lots of other teen-focused programs being mentioned – Podcasts and film festivals for example.

In the end, this is all just new methods of community outreach.

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Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Bibliographic Gaming – Christy Branston

When: Tuesday, December 06 2005 11:00 AM
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
Christy is a government information librarian at the University of Waterloo. The talk’s subtitle is “Game-based learning & library instruction”.

A bit about her background, Christy is someone who gets into and out of gaming as she has time available. I think this is representative of a good chunk of the gaming populace.
-Doom II
-Mortal Kombat
-Mah Jong
-Tomb Raider
-The list goes on!

Recommended reading: “What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy” James Gee, 2003.
-Video games help children learn actively and critically
-Experience the world in new ways
-Problem solving skills
-Importance of affinity groups as sources of collaboration
-Game-based Learning

At Waterloo: Arts303 – Gaming, Simulation & Learning
-Notable in that it is not offered through Computer Science
-Project-based course
-Games – building the foundation
-Scenarios – Creating Compelling Content
-Strategy – Team, Process, and Community

Bloom & Angelo
-Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation
-Angel’s Teacher’s Dozen: Fourteen general, research-based principles for improving higher learning in our classrooms – info organized in personal, meaningful ways is more likely to be retained and used.

One game created in the class is a choose your own adventure-style mystery.
Another modified Half-Life into Rezlife, modeling an example of residence hall living for prospective students.

Game-Based Learning & Library instruction
-Is it effective?
-Educational Games vs Commercial Games (Educational largely fail)
-Eidenced-based Librarianship
-Experiment on staff!
-Might work in libraries better than traditional classrooms – we’re not testing them on concrete objectives

Approach for training staff
-Different learning styles?
-Set the stage early (about a year of warnings)
-Have a vision, see it through aka a little stubbornness goes a long way (worked from her own learning experience)

Program was a game used for training staff in Government Information resources. But, at the same time it was a course. A criteria of quality was that even if you removed the game elements, the main elements are still worthy teaching objectives.

(I have a copy of these powerpoint slides, which go into more detail)

To entice staff to play the game, low-budget prizes are involved (mysterious to us since the game is still ongoing). To entice staff to actually read the text and not jump to the game portions, ‘easter egg’ words are scattered throughout. Collect them all and input the list at the end!

Staff members are formed into teams, competing against each other.

Areas for improvement
-Learn from the game – instant feedback
-Teach to the level of the learner

Next steps
-“Generally, the aim of an educational game is to provide students with challenges related to the main task…” (Kiili, 15).
-We need to get away from this thinking and just plain make things fun!
-Figure out where we fit in, and where we CAN fit in – is your campus looking at game design courses?

Library instruction doesn’t work unless there is a point of need. Using gaming and peripheral learning flies in the face of this traditional thought.

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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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Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Day 2 Keynote – George Needham

When: Friday, December 09 2005 08:00 AM
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
What Can Librarians Learn from Gamers?

George Needham is the VP for member services at OCLC.

Focus on the concept of gamers as metaphors. Developing, sharing, and extending knowledge.

Why should someone from OCLC speak on gaming? “It all started with…” the OCLC 2003 Environmental Scan.

It found 3 major trends:
-Self Service
-Disaggregation (bite sized pieces of information)

Gamers show all 3 of these trends in action.

Question he thinks we are asking ourselves right now: “Why is an old poop like you talking to us about gaming?”
“When I see a line of historical continuity, I nearly wet myself.”

Flashback to 1889, giving us a slice of life of Needham’s grandfather. He was 14 when the Wright brothers flew.

Joe Duffy had a lifelong love of gadgets. He was 59 when TV debuted. 80 when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon, watching it on TV. This was a life during an unprecended time of turmoil and technological advancement.

It was change or die. Today is much the same.

“According to Wikipedia”, the first video game was Tennis for Two in 1958. Games were originally designed to teach people how to use a computer. Then, Pong came along in 1975. Nintendo put gaming on the map for the general public in 1985. Air Warrior was the first multiplayer online game, in 1987. It cost $10 an hour to play!

There is a long tradition here, and libraries have not picked up on it. “It’s very easy to be a library futurist – look at what is happening in the rest of the world, and tell libraries they’ll get it in five years.” – Joan Frye Williams

New study from last week – the BBC determined that from age 6-65, the UK population has over 60% who have played video games.

What makes these folks so special?
Those who have grown up with the games see the world fundamentally differently. There is some evidence that the basic function pattern of the brain has changed.

Digital Immigrants – In the last 20 years, libraries have been helping to acculturate the older generations to new technology. But, it still still never be deeply ingrained as it is for the younger generations. There will always be a ‘digital accent’.

Digital Natives – The world has never been otherwise. Parallel processing instead of linear, graphical instead of text, payoff instead of process, fantasy instead of reality, “twitch” speed, etc. See Prensky for more information.

“Born with the Chip”: Format-agnostic, Nomadic, Multitasking, Collaborative, etc.

According to John Beck, gamers are always the hero of their own games. The world really does revolve around them. The world is a logical, friendly place. It is natural to move between tasks. There are many paths to victory. Victory is always possible, and the cost of failure is low. Leaders cannot be trusted. Lastly, life should be fun.

But, this is not the end of the world as we know it! Gaming has proven to help surgeons perform better.


Librarians should learn:
Rethink how we offer our services
-Multiple paths
-Many formats, platforms
-Consider the non-print learner
-Librarian as “information priest” as is dead as Elvis
-What can the user contribute?

“Yes, there really were wars about videos in libraries.”

Library mash-ups: example – ‘mash up’ everything Harry Potter related. Games, books, movies, etc. Or, tie in World War II games like Call of Duty to studies of the historical setting.

Rethink where we offer services
-Physical library layout
-Online library services are journeys and markers, not destinations. For example, spend some time getting library web sites mentioned and linked to from others.
-24/7/365 is barely enough

New OCLC study “Perceptions of Libraries and Information Services” – Libraries rank high on reliability with the public, but not on speed/flexibility/variety. Search engines rank just as reliable as librarians in their eyes.

(Study is available on OCLC web site)

Rethink privacy in this new context. Not being completely open with patron information, but thinking about what we do. In an Information Week experiment last May, 85% of people on the street gave up their passwords for a Starbucks $5 gift card. We think about privacy fundamentally differently than they do. Why not exploit the data we have lying on our hard drives to make user lives easier? Why not figure out what the 80% that doesn’t move on the shelves is, not buy so much of it, and let users point out when they would like specific items bought?

-Short cuts, not training. Repackage what we do as short cuts! We have better information than what is on the web. As shortcuts, not long step by step processes, it becomes more appitizing.

-Risk-taking and trial and error are OK! Don’t be afraid of an occasional failure. It happens, and isn’t the end of the world. “Nobody ever died of bad cataloging.” – Gary Houk, OCLC VP

-Expertise is more important than title or credentials. In public libraries, why not draw on high school students’ expertise?

-Can LIS learn from gaming academic programs? Electronic Arts, which makes video games, notes that in the last three or four years, students now come out of school with the ability to contribute to real projects, with less on the job training.
Why can’t library schools be focused similarly?

How do we apply this now?
-Play an online game once in a while
-Stock cheat books for video games in your library (or ‘strategy guides’ if you prefer)
-Offer services on IM, use text messaging – “This is a cultural hangup we need to get over.”
-Throw a LAN party in your library
-Bring digital natives into your planning process (even if they DON’T have an MLS)
-Respect non-print learning

There are a million ways to kill a new idea.

Now, a focus on his granson. Born in 1999. He was 5 when podcasting was added to iTunes. He had his first digital camera when he was 3, and does not understand the concept of film. “dialing a phone” has no innate meaning. When he asked his mom to “Google Spongebob” at age 3, his mom thought he had regressed to babytalk.

We are the only people who can change the ends toward which we are headed.

To sum up:
Nothing is built on stone;
all is build on sand,
but we must build
as if the sand were stone
-Jorge Luis Borges

Summed up in 3 words: “We Must Build.”

Info from the questions and comments: Use IM for staff communication. Needham’s ideal web page would work like Google (federated search?). The library at UC Merced (sp?) is the campus center – small collection, lots of public space.

“Libraries never have been the first place people go for information. We need to get over that.”
“There have been videos in libraries for 30 years. When does it become traditional?”
How do we make the jump from a ‘box of books’ to where we need to be? As we expand, bring people along slowly.

Don’t alienate the traditional user base as you bring in the new generation. A slow, slogging process.

According to the public, everybody who works in a library is a librarian. Anywhere else in the world, this situation doesn’t happen. Doctors do not staff the front desks. We are much more open and upfront.

A questioner brings up an example of his library’s selection process for a coffee provider: nobody making the choice was a coffee drinker! The result is horrible coffee. Bring in a diversity of people who are genuine stakeholders in a result.

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:

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.”