A poor time slot and multiple Marriott hotels made for slim attendance at the Teen Gaming Interest Group Meeting Saturday afternoon.

Kelly Czarnecki, co-convener, welcomed the attendees, noting that the Gaming Discussion Group (which has evolved to an Interest Group) is a year old! Our agenda included a visit from Matt Gullett, Imaginon, and Scott Nicholson, Syracuse University, to talk about Game Lab.

We intended to elect conveners, but with only 8 attendees, decided to do it online. Interested candidates should send a short blurb (under 250 words) about why they want to be the convener NO LATER THAN June 26. We’ll elect via a Survey Monkey poll. Polls will close at 11 PM EST on June 230, as YALSA needs to be informed of the names of conveners by July 1 2007.

Currently in the running for the convener position in alphabetical order, are:
* Kelly Czarnecki
* Beth Gallaway
* Beth Saxton
* Jami Schwarzwalder

Our final agenda item was to work on 2008 program. We decided to rename it “Gaming Beyond Tournaments.” The focus is programs that are related to gaming or have appeal to gamers but don’t involve actually playing games. Got a great program to share? Want to speak? Available Sunday June 23 at 8AM in Anaheim CA? I’d love to hear from you: informationgoddess29 AT gmail DOT com

About Game Lab at PLCMC:
Matt, a gamer since age 4. Started doing gaming in 2005, and has started a Game Lab at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County. Matt wanted to replicate the GameLab at Syracuse with a public library spin. Their Game Lab has three key focuses:
1. Programming
2. Content Creation
3. Collaboration

The GameLab is trying to show that games are an important part of digital literacy. Games and interactive media are a public good. It’s not just a room for people to come in and play games whenever they want t; it’s to develop partnership with local schools, colleges and universities and library oriented LIS programs to develop programming and rationale for gaming and libraries. Partnerships with businesses are also a potential – working with game companies to see product development. Working with The Youth Digital Arts Cyber School is another potential partner, a Las Vegas company that offers online classes in Game Design. It’s not just about playing the games it’s about making them too. Introducing gamers to the tools to enable them to do content creation.

GameLab is not limited to video games! Card, board, miniatures, it’s all good. The space is an office that can be a flexible space; much of the content will be portable, and use will be dictated by projects like beta testing or a board game event.

The Science Museum of Minnesota has instructors who are using the free game design software Scratch (from MIT) to teach a class at the Hennepin County library called be a computer game designer. “The teens didn’t really realize how much math they were using because they were having so much fun with it.” The Museum charged, but a training the trainer program for teens to continue as instructors is under investigation.

Kelly cited that her goal was to start at the beginning, with GameMaker, but kids wanted to start where they were comfortable (a very gamer mentality).

Someone suggested the flash drive option: when you have a restrictive environment and can’t install programs, putting an installed program on a flash drive may be an option. Used web-based game design tools are another alternative. Some resources: http://www.cs.queensu.ca/~dalamb/Games/design/gameDesignSites.html

About GameLab at Syracuse
Scott Nicholson, Associate Professor at Syracuse University, told us that the Information Institute at Syracuse is handling GameLab, thanks to a half-million dollar IMLS grant . Both OCLC and ALA TechSource are partners.

GameLab at Syracuse involves four research projects:
1. Creating a thesaurus for all types of games
2. Using economics as a way of looking at the public good regarding recreational gaming; if appropriate is the library the right place to do it
3. Get a better idea of idea of penetration of games in libraries
4. Create a gaming census

The outcome will be figuring out what type of games are successful in a specific environments for specific populations, with a range of options – like a portable games kit. Different games appeal to different people for different reasons. Scott continued to challenge us to think about goals of your gaming program. “A great game for the wrong crowd leads to a bad user experience. We need a game sommelier, if you will…”

Get on the e-mail list for the Syracuse Library Game Lab. To sign up, send an e-mail to listserv AT listserv DOT syr DOT edu. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it with the message ‘Subscribe gamelab Your Name.’

Some program sharing ensued: anime prom, Runescape LAN parties, and teen run video game nights were just a few great ideas. We also learned that ALSC’s Children and Technology committee has submitted a to run a technology program in Anaheim which may or may not include gaming – watch for more details to come.

Other questions we discussed:
Where do you get the money? Where do you buy games from? and Who has a Wii?

A reminder about three other upcoming gaming events of interest:
* ALA TechSource Gaming in Libraries Symposium, July 22-24, Chicago O’Hare Marriott

* Gaming in Libraries, a 3 credit class at Syracuse University in spring 2008 over 3 weekends, will focus on the history of games, games as a new media, and experiencing and evaluating a variety of games.

* Wallenberg Hall Summer Institute on Gaming in Education at Stanford University, August 6-10

Thanks to all attendees and contributors!

EDIT: OH! And don’t forget to contribute to our list of 50 recommended games on the YALSA wiki at http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/Gaming_Lists_%26_Activities

EDIT: Correct link for The Youth Digital Arts Cyber School is http://www.ydacs.com.

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.

4 Thoughts on “Teen Gaming Interest Group Meeting

  1. As Seymour Papert often said (sometimes in connection with games for learning and other educational technologies), we must put the child in control of the computer, not the computer in control of the child. That’s why I’m so pleased to see that some libraries are considering implementing design programs for their youth and teen populations.

    To say that our programs at the Wilmette Public Library (Game Maker Academy, Scratch Lab) have been highly popular would almost be an understatement: we’ve tripled the number of offerings, increased the class size and still cannot meet demand. We’re also offering our Game Maker Academy at other nearby libraries where our experience has been the same. On sign-up day at Park Ridge Public Library, 11 teenage boys lined up outside the entrance one hour before opening in order to guarantee for themselves a space the class. In the words of teen librarian Maggie Hommel, a near-riot erupted when parents and kids who arrived just moments after 9:00 am found that the class had already filled.

    We’ve been offering Scratch labs since long before the application’s official release last May, and have a fourth and a fifth cohort scheduled in August. I’m currently hosting 5 concurrent Game Maker programs, and next month will be offering the program again in Wilmette and at Evanston Township High School through an arrangement with a local youth organization. And that’s to speak only of the summer.

    I just want to make one small point about how libraries might present these programs. Some libraries do pay consultants to come in and offer game design programs (I know of such programs that have been offered at libraries in Brooklyn and in Austen). And that’s fine for libraries that can afford such programs. But I personally feel that there is greater value in developing these programs in-house and sustaining them through recurrent offerings and a monthly game design club to provide a venue for further collaboration and experimentation among participants, and as an ongoing adjuct to exisiting gaming events. The design applications are not difficult to learn, and who is better qualified than librarians (esp. gaming librarians) to structure such programs in a way that optimizes the promotion of the literacies (computational, mathmatical, narrative, aesthetic, systemic, collaborative) that we already recognize as essential to success in the 21st century?

  2. Thanks for the mention in your post!

    I wanted to point out that our url is http://www.ydacs.COM

    We are another option for libraries that want to offer rich video game design and digital art programs for their young members from 3rd grade through high school without having to have in-house staff with at least a minimal programming background who research the available video game design software, support the selected software, design the curriculum, deliver the curriculum, have the technical expertise to answer student’s questions, and assess the students to make sure something was learned as data for ongoing funding. The Youth Digital Arts CyberSchool (YDACS) provides all of these services via our online digital art courses for students from 3rd grade through high school.

    For Video Game Design we use a highly accessible drag and drop software program called Multimedia Fusion which is also used by many professional independent game developers so the skills students acquire can be learned in a modality that 3rd graders can quickly grasp and high schoolers can leverage into real video game development employment opportunities if that is a direction they wish to pursue. There have been many young developers who started out with Multimedia Fusion who are now in the software and video game development industries.

    We have a successful program currently underway in the Broward County Library system. Kathy Makens is the Young Adult Services Librarian leading the program across three Broward County libraries. She has just published an article about her attempts to use Game Maker and Flash last summer and her decision to use YDACS this summer based on her previous experience. The article is in the YALS Summer Newsletter that just came out yesterday and should provide some interesting thoughts for those considering offering video game development programs for their young members.

    We consider video games as a form of digital art with interactivity. There are limitless opportunities for students to create interactive stories or to integrate with core curriculum. You can watch a Demonstrations and Overview video on our web site that highlights video games developed by a 9 year old boy, his mother, after he taught her to create her own video game, a 12 year old boy, and a 12 year old girl who created a video game for her Marine Biology class project. You can download and play some of the video games from our Student Gallery.

    As an example of core curriculum integration, in this case science, we are currently partnering with the Imagine Mars program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop courses that teach students to envision their ideal Mars community and then create video games that teach about concepts they have learned.

    We also have other digital art courses that include animation, where students design and create their own animated video game characters using professional animation software that are then imported into their video games, digital painting, you can see our emerging Student Digital Painting Gallery on our site, and digital music. We are developing courses for Comics, Manga, Anime, Rotoscoping, and advanced versions of current courses such as Digital Painting 102. All of these courses integrate with one another. Student’s digital paintings, animations, and digital music can all be imported into their video games. The library effectively becomes a Digital Art Studio and the student learns all aspects of video game production from the programming to original art to musical scoring. All of the work created by the students is original and therefore they own and can sell. This provides a great opportunity to teach about copyright, trademarks, and entrepreneurism. Students who aren’t interested in video games but are interested in the other digital arts can choose to focus on another digital art form.

    Youth Digital Arts Galleries and shows are springing up at our schools and libraries. Kathy mentions in her article that Broward will be holding contests at each of the three locations where the students will choose the winning games.

    Our courses are 35 days long (there is flexibility in the term for libraries and schools), students can enroll at any time, they are entirely self-paced, and they are very inexpensive, $40/student/course with site discounts available. At our core we are researchers at the intersection of Art, Pedagogy, Community, and Technology. We teach students from 3rd grade through high school to produce professional level digital art immediately. Once we find software or hardware that enables this goal we work with the developers to allow us to offer the software or hardware at below academic pricing. For example, the animation software we use is called Toon Boom Studio. It normally retails for $410 including the templates we use. We sell it for $69. Low cost and high access are critical factors for the communities we serve.

    The key point of comparison is that ANY staff member with an interest in digital art can facilitate our courses and learn side by side with the students. NO previous digital art or programming experience is required! We also believe that if one compares the cost of researching, developing, delivering, and supporting ongoing digital arts programs as opposed to offering YDACS courses we are a favorable option for many libraries.

    I will be speaking ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium in Chicago on July 22-24 and would be happy to discuss this further in person in Chicago. Please also feel free to contact me by emailing us at
    info @ ydacs.com


    Craig Davis
    Youth Digital Arts CyberSchool

  3. Anonymous YALSA Member [Visitor] on July 9, 2007 at 8:45 am said:

    That was a difficult timeslot. I think Interest Groups are much better off scheduling their meetings in either the 8am or 4pm timeslots, which tend not to bang up against the most popular programs.

    Also, I think there may be some concern from librarians that this group is essentially the same fantastic people over and over again. It’s great to have a core group, but every time I see an article, meeting notice, or blog post about gaming it’s Beth G, Kelly C, Matt G, Eli W, Jami S who have authored it or are interviewed for it. That can be daunting for people who are testing the waters and feel like the core group are years ahead of them. Just something to consider for the future.

  4. Cathy Lichtman [Visitor] on December 3, 2007 at 12:17 pm said:

    Are you saying that you could skip downloading Game Maker and do a whole program using flash drives.
    “Someone suggested the flash drive option: when you have a restrictive environment and can’t install programs, putting an installed program on a flash drive may be an option. Used web-based game design tools are another alternative.”
    I’m trying to do a game design program and am facing some resistance re: downloading the program, either Game Maker or Scratch. Haven’t decided which to use.

Post Navigation