Video Game Free Play during TTW: What went wrong?

I visited two libraries last week, to celebrate Teen Tech Week with Video Game Free Play, and the resulting evaluations from the two sessions were vastly different. What made the evaluations from the two programs such polar opposites? The room size was about the same in both facilities. There were more boys than girls in both programs. The age of the participants was similar. The games were the same. Both groups were given the identical behavior guidelines, and encouraged to be honest in giving feedback but to please cite specific ways to improve the program. The lighting was very different. Does one more console make that much of a difference? A comparison, with selected teen comments, follows.

It should be noted that Library B has an active TAB, and the librarian from a nearby charter school helped to chaperone the event. I’m not sure what impact the teens themselves had in planning the programs; is it possible that the teens guiding the program made for a more successful session?

The feedback for session A, though mostly negative, can be viewed as constructive in nature. Even the most well-intentioned librarians must bear in mind that meaningful youth participation means not just asking teens for their opinion (what console, what games?) but following through with their recommendations, and then engaging them in everything from publicity to evaluations.

Speaking of teen input, don’t forget that YALSA wants to know how the teens at YOUR library use technology! The survey continues through March 31

Library A: ~35 teens, mostly middle school
Setup:
system #1: Rock Band for PS2 with LCD projector with built-in speakers and pull down screen
system #2: Nintendo Wii Sports (1 hr 15 min) / N-64 Mario Kart (1 hr 15 min) on 20″ flat screen tube TV

system #3: DDR (45 min) / Guitar Hero III (1 hr 45 min) for PS2, with LCD projector with external speakers and stand alone screen
Card games provided (Uno, Set Game, Quiddler, Nanofictionary, Man Bites Dog) none played
Snacks not provided
Door prizes not provided
bright lights in first 1/3 of room (where board games & parents were) dim lighting in second 1/3 of room (where 2 video games were), dark in last 1/3 of room (where teens hung out and played with their cell phones)
3 chaperones, ~5 parents in vicinity
no teens or parents stayed to help clean up

Comments:
Gaming at the library was…

* ok u could have less people come, or narrow the age limit
* sick nasty
* so boring
* crowded

* outragiously retarded ps: now i know not to come next time,unless they had more tv’s and FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lot and lots of food.
* a library is only good for books, nnnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooooo
tttttttttttttttttttttttttttt
vvvvvvvvviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
ddddddddddddeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooo GGGGGGGGAAAAAAAMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
SSSSSSSSS.
* it was freaking cool, not
* it was cool

* i liked it
* totally awsome
* not enough room , need a 360
* separate rooms for older kids; a tournament challenge, food, great idea though
* tournament challange, more systems, better sound when playing games, niew systems to play
* dark, too dark,not enough tv’s crappy systems

* Very boring!! Need more systems!
* was kinda boring, but I had fun
* kinda cool but a little crowdwd
* it was fun but i think it needed more systems
* it was kinda boring and good, needs xbox 360
* WAS AWSOME NEXT TIME NEEDS HALO 3 AND A XBOX 360 AND MABY SOME MORE GAMES

* it was ok there was to many people more games would help
* it was not that fun but ok
* It wasvawesme, but the Wii should go on one of the two pull down screens.
* AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
* to many people at first, but then got better at the end. Definatly do this again
* so much fun this was AWSOME!!! they should do this every weekend i would defenetly come!!!!!

Library B : ~36 teens, mostly middle school
Set up:
system #1: DDR (1 hr 15 min) / American Idol Karaoke (45 min) on a 42″ flat screen tube TV
system #2: Guitar Hero III (2 hrs) for Wii, with LCD projector with built-in speakers, projected on a shade
system #3: Nintendo Wii Sports (2 hours) with no sound, projected on a stand alone screen
system #4: Rock Band for PS2 (2 hours) with LCD projector with external speakers and projected on a shade
Card games provided (Uno, Set Game, Quiddler, Nanofictionary, Man Bites Dog) teens played Man Bites Dog and Uno
Snacks provided

Door prizes provided
dim lighting near game screens, lighting near card games & refreshments
5 chaperones, ~10 parents in vicinity (read in another part of library, occasionally watched game play)
several teens and parents stayed to help clean up

Comments: Gaming at the Library …

* -Was fun, I got to be with my friends and have a good time playing good ole “Uno”.

* -Was sick (In a good way!)
* -I had a lot of fun playing games with my friends!
* -the games were sweet!
* -We enjoyed learning how to play new and exciting games.
* -I improved my gaming skills! Now I can beat all my friends.
* -GOOD TIMES A’ROLLIN’!!!!

* -THE GAMES ARE SO COOL IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I WOULD BY THEM ALL.
* FUN AND AWSOME
* It was so much fun!!!
* FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
* IT WAS TEH 1337
* I LOVED IT, PLEASE DO IT AGAIN!

* The games were off the wall. <3
* It was fun hanging with friends.
* Really Cool!
* It was very fun!
* It was so awesome, my head might just explode :3
* I’d have come earlier if I knew it was going to be this fun! Do it again!

* …it was a good night…the games were good too…
* I LOVE GAME NIGHT! <3>
* I had a lot of fun.
* I thought that it was very fun and we should do It more often

About Beth Gallaway

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer.
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