Speakers were Eli Neiburger, Matt Gullett, Kevin Ferst, and Beth Gallaway.
Eli spoke for the bulk of the session, and was really fascinating. He pointed out that video gaming is not really new, it has been around for about thirty years now. And the calls that it will be the downfall of civilization as we know it are “just another part of the generational churn.” Movies, music, and even novels have all held that spot at some point or another. Media coverage of hyper-violent games is overblown. I didn’t catch the exact statistic, but something like only 12% of all games sold last year were rated M (Mature), and even they are intended for ages 17 and up. In the same way that you wouldn’t take a first grader to an R movie, they shouldn’t be playing M rated games. Parents need to be educated about the rating system to understand this.
Eli runs amazingly successful gaming events at the Ann Arbor District Library system. He points out that they are about the only programs to draw in large numbers of teenage boys to the library.
I was in awe the entire time, just listening to Eli speak. He’s truly passionate about gaming in libraries, and can justify it in ways I can’t even begin to list. I think he won over most of the audience.
The other speakers had less time, but were still interesting and relevant. Matt Gullett pointed out that you shouldn’t make programs to create games, which he has run, too much like school or you’ll lose the kids. Instead, the sessions can be places to create and interact socially.
Kevin Ferst brought an interesting perspective, in that he isn’t a hardcore gamer himself but still has successfully run sessions at the library. You don’t have to be an expert!
Beth Gallaway pointed out that teens do need structure and boundaries, which libraries can provide in these programs like any others. And what about teaching ‘mashup’ classes at the library? Kids love to take game footage and sync it up with their favorite music, creating quick music videos. Use it as an opportunity to teach them some tools, as well as a quick copyright/fair use lesson (record companies are starting to sue kids over these videos).
I admit that I find it hard to apply a lot of what was covered in an academic library environment. But the study of gaming, and how it impacts the students we receive in colleges, is still very relevant. And what would be so wrong with hosting a gaming night for incoming freshmen? 🙂