Digital Games in the Classroom

A new survey from the Games and Learning Publishing Council sheds light on just how commonplace games have become in today’s classrooms. Among the findings:

  • Among K-8 teachers surveyed who use digital games in teaching,’ 55%’ have students play games at least weekly
  • 72% typically’ use a desktop or laptop computer for gaming
  • Nearly half believe that’ low-performing students benefit the most from digital games
  • Word of mouth is the biggest influence when selecting games

So what can librarians take away from this data? Continue reading

A Gaming Connection

“You play Minecraft at work?” Sometimes my friends get jealous, so I explain: “Yeah, I play Minecraft at work, but I’m usually running around the lab helping people, and there’s more to it than just playing the game – it’s about building community.” Playing Minecraft at the library is a way to get kids in the door and create connections. That I’m a fan of Minecraft outside of work serves as another layer of common ground.

I’ve been playing Minecraft in our computer lab with groups of kids and teens for about two years now. We’ve done a lot of different things with the game: free play, adventure maps, working together to survive, player vs. player battles, redstone circuits, pixel art.  At times we’ve played every other week, sometimes once a month, sometimes once over the summer. I’ve gotten to know my Minecraft kids pretty well. I know that they are creative and knowledgeable about the details of the game.  I know who loves to explore, who is a fearless monster fighter, who can give me a porkchop when my food meter is low, and who knows how to build a shelter where no zombie will ever find us. And they know me this way as well. They know I probably have a secret shelter hidden somewhere, that if they need a place to hide they can come in, and that my avatar is probably standing there doing nothing because I left myself logged in while I got up to help someone at their computer.

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2013 Technology Trend: Ramped-Up Gaming

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. Continue reading

App of the Week: Gift Giving Special

In this special edition of YALSA’s App of the Week series, our app reviewers bring you their selections (listed in alphabetical order) of apps that make great gifts for teens. A gift card to the Apple App Store or Google Play might also make a great gift for a teen.

Before reading the suggested gifts in our Gift Giving Special, nominate two of your favorite apps for teens in 2012. You’ll be able to come back and see all of the nominations and place your vote on December 20.


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App of the Week: Minecraft Explorer

 

Title: Minecraft Explorer Pro
Platform: iOS
Cost: .99

 

 

 

Tired of switching between windows as you pause your Minecraft game and open your browser to look something up on the Minecraft Wiki?’  This hand-held reference for your mobile device has all of the crafting recipes and mob facts you need, as well as an Enchantment guide, a Skin Studio (in app purchase of an additional 1.99), seed codes to type in for different map results,’  and a list of Minecraft servers, where you can keep track of your favorite places to play.’  The app includes links to the Minecraft Wiki for more detailed information, but is organized visually for quick browsing that is fast and user friendly. Continue reading

Happy Minecraft Day!

Geeks of all ages rejoice, the full version of Minecraft is out today!’  Minecraft creator Notch and’ the folks at’ Mojang’ ‘ are celebrating this release with gamers from around the world at MineCon in Las Vegas today and tomorrow.’  MineCon’s impressive agenda includes panels about gaming and sharing with implications that extend beyond Minecraft alone.’  The conference will be streaming live thanks to a partnership with IGN. Visit IGN’s Minecraft Event Hub for conference videos and more.

The full version of the game includes all kinds of exciting new features like enchantments, new items, new blocks, and new mobs.’  You can check out the full list of updates over at the Minecraft Wiki.
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30 Days of How-To #23: Minecraft

I’m cheating a little because I haven’t actually played Minecraft with teens on the brand new multiplayer server space I just rented. ‘ But I do play a lot of Minecraft with my friends, I have talked a lot about it with teens, and I am going to offer the game as a regular teen program starting next week.’  Here’s what I’m doing to bring Minecraft to the library, and links to some interesting ideas about things you might do with it.

But first, what is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a game where you roam a landscape full of different sorts of blocks that you can move around to build anything you want.’  You can dig deep to find different resources, and explore to find a variety of environments.’  At night, zombies and other monsters come out, so you need to protect yourself.’  The game was created by Swedish programmer Markus Persson, and is being developed by his company Mojang.’  It’s still in beta,’  so there are new updates all the time.’  Minecraft is getting prettier and more involved with each new permutation.

I love this game because it demands creativity.’  You have a world, and you can do anything.’  It’s even more fun with friends, where in building your world you find yourselves cooperating by sharing resources,’  planning building projects,’  helping each other and showing off for each other.’  I can’t wait to see what happens when I turn my group of teens loose in their new world.

Here’s a video for you to take a look at Minecraft.

Click through for more.
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