Full confessions: I'm terrible at video games. I lack the hand/eye coordination needed to work magic with the controllers. But I like to watch gamers. I know I need more practice, and I think that I would love gaming if I didn't get so frustrated. It's a vicious cycle.
Gaming in the library seems to come in cycles. First there was the DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and Guitar Hero, big spectacles that could be as much to watch as to play. Librarians raved about those parties. Then there was the Wii games - specifically, sports with teens (and also with seniors). Once a niche event, National Gaming Day has expanded and evolved into International Games Day.
This year Minecraft programs have swept through libraries around the country, but the Darien Library in Connecticut took it to the next level, scaling up to make the gaming experience even better. They host a county-wide server.
Some specifics from the Darien site indicate this is a well-thought project:
The new server features a common spawn-point where all players can gather and socialize--the Central Library. From there, you can teleport to your town's very own world where you are free to mine, build, and craft to your heart's content. Curious about what kids from other towns are up to? You're free to visit their worlds, but you can only build in your own world--the same goes for everyone else. Worried about griefing? We've got it covered. The server will be running many of the popular plugins you're used to including Grief Prevention (so that you can claim areas to build upon) and Core Protect, so that if someone does mess with your stuff, we'll know who it was and we can roll back the changes. If you want to play, bring in your library card and tell us your player name and we'll add you to the server!
For teens, I think trying out new things at the library is part of the fun. Teens can test out the games (and the platforms) and see if it's right for them. They can play against people they normally wouldn't. And true fans of the game can show off their mad skills in a game they love.
I love the idea of gaming at library (or through the library server) because it shows that libraries have changed with the times. We're hip, and we're fun, and we love pop culture. I think that's an important lesson for teens, future taxpayers, to learn.
This holiday season, a new generation of gaming consoles is making their way under the tree and into library collections. I'm not sure which game or even which platform will be the next big thing, but I am confident that teens will relish the opportunity to play at the library.