I had done another stenographer-on-too-much-coffee stint at this session (see Millennial Leadership), but luckily for me (and for you, dear reader) a lot of the material from Beyond Gaming Tournaments is online at the ALA Conference Materials Archive. So instead of duplicating a lot of content, allow me to direct you that-a-way and just summarize a few bits from the program for those of y’all who couldn’t attend.
Unfortunately this was one presentation plagued by a few technical difficulties, so the fabulous Beth Gallaway (outgoing co-chair of the Teen Gaming Interest Group) had to step in a bit at the beginning to do some tap dancing while things were sorted out at the podium. Food for thought: how do you dial on your cellphone? If you grew up with home video gaming systems, there’s a good chance you dial (and text) with your thumb. But if you never got into console playing, you might just use your index finger, like you would have on a rotary or wall phone. (As with any discussions of digital natives/immigrants, there are of course exceptions, but I still thought it was an interesting starting point.)
First up was Craig Davis, president and founder of Youth Digital Arts Cyberschool, whose mission is to help kids from third grade through high school to “explore, create, and ultimately sell original digital art.” They believe any kid can create professional level digital art (which includes game design) immediately and become a young entrepreneur. You should check out the YDAC website–they’re doing some very cool stuff, including providing professional software to kids at significantly reduced costs. Craig also showed a couple of kid-created games, including one to demonstrate how libraries can easily create games highlighting their services and collections.
One point that I found particularly interesting: YDAC has used kids as young as eight as mentors (for teens and for adults!) virtually and in person. Craig said this:
State frameworks in this case are completely irrelevant. If a kid is intellectually ready for these things, feed them. If you create a place where they can do things and excel, you go with their strength … It used to be, in the computer industry, cost of production was always a limiter. Cost of production now is nil. Everyone should be doing unbelievable things. Our only limiter is knowledge.
Next up was Elizabeth Saxton, from Cleveland Public Library. Her goal was to go from very high tech to very low tech, to take traditional programs and remix them with gaming content to attract different audiences. Her presentation focused a lot on teen input for programming and finding ways to encourage reading and writing through a gaming lens. She also spoke a lot on world building and using sci-fi and fantasy writing as a guide. (One personal pet peeve: Star Trek does not use “teleporters.” They’re transporters.)
Last but not least, Amy McNally, teen services librarian at Ridgdale Library (part of the Hennepin County Library system), brought two fantastic teens–Karina Grimaldi and Brigit Boler–with her to talk about cosplay, anime, and gaming at the library. Their powerpoint is supposed to be online along with the other conference materials, but sadly I just tried to connect and got an error message.
Karina and Brigit did a lot of the talking, and they were really fabulous. You could tell they bring a lot of enthusiasm to programs like the Cosplay Sewing Club, Anime Prom & Midwinter Ball, and Random Battles. (Think Final Fantasy meets LARPing meets improv.) I’m really hoping their presentation gets successfully uploaded soon.