We play games on Friday afternoons. My library has a Wii and a Playstation 2, which we set up in our community room. ‘ Teens and tweens are welcome, and many come back week after week to play Rock Band, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Wii Sports, Dance Dance Revolution and whatever other’  games that teens or I have brought in that week. They take turns based on whoever wants to play. ‘ Some enjoy just hanging out and watching. ‘ It’s a relaxed environment that promotes socializing, conversation, and cooperation.

In the spirit of my relaxed gaming programs, I will share a few things that I love about connecting with teens over video games.
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Librarians looking for evidence that gaming programs are worthwhile may want to check out the new book by game designer Jane McGonigal.’  McGonigal appeared on the Colbert Report tonight to promote Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

In her interview with Colbert, McGonigal pointed out that 10 years of scientific research show that playing games is one of the most productive things people can do.’  The emotions gamers feel while playing can also spill over into the real world, so that they feel more confident and do better at tests, for instance.

McGonigal has been preaching the merits of massive, multiplayer games for years, as she did in this February 2010 interview on Wired.com.’  Besides making people happy, she says, games can help young people learn how to work together to solve real-world problems.

Playing the game World Without Oil, for instance, spurred gamers to change their daily habits, and to encourage friends and family to do the same.’  Last year she designed the game Evoke for young people in Africa.’  It’s a crash course in starting a business and tackling problems like poverty at a local level.’  Last August, 57,000 gamers’  were credited as co-authors of a paper for the journal Nature for playing a game (FoldIt) where the goal is to fold virtual proteins in new ways.

McGonigal wants gamers to realize that, just like their powerful avatars, they can be heroic and resilient when it comes to tackling the world’s problems. Right now, there are people playing games that could help them to cure cancer, end poverty and stop climate change.’  McGonigal’s goal is get 3 billion people around the globe to play games like these for an hour a day.

Title: Epic Win
Platform: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
(Requires iOS 3.0 or later)
Cost: $2.99

Let it first be said that I am a list maker. Before my iPhone, I loved using my daily calender to keep my lists of things I needed TO DO. And with my iPhone, I’ve tried various TO DO programs to keep myself organized, but usually end up back with real sticky notes. ‘ I ‘ keep sticky notes by my desk at both work and home so I can add more things to my lists. Trouble is, my little sheets often unstick themselves, disappear, or end up deep under the pile of other notes on stickies. ‘ So I am always on the hunt for a better TO DO app. One that really fits my way of trying to keep organized.

So you can’t imagine how happy I was when I learned about Epic Win when a friend showed me this Pre-Release Trailer. Finally an app that lets users turn their own life into the epic quest it really is. ‘ This app is a To Do List / RPG mash up, and it’s kept me on task for months now. Read More →

Last week, we posted about YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest, an opportunity for you to share your advocacy successes, inspire your fellow librarians, and win $500.00 for your efforts. Today, we are highlighting one of the biggest advocacy movements championed by librarians in the past five years: Gaming in Libraries.

In reality, gaming in libraries is not a new idea: chess has been played in libraries for nearly 150 years, and during the Great Depression, toys and games were often circulated in public libraries. What has changed over the years are the games themselves. While board games are still in the mix, the presence of gaming consoles (Xbox, Wii) in libraries has been on the rise since 2006. Read More →

I’m all about video games in libraries. ‘ I have a Wii and a Playstation 2 at my library, and have been having gaming programs a few times a month since I started last summer. ‘ It is certainly fun and brings in the teens, but recently I decided to try something new: board games and card games. ‘ I called it Low Tech Gaming. ‘ The program had a good turnout and was so much fun, that I’ve decided to add it to the Friday afternoon rotation.

The games I used: ‘ Apples to Apples, Jenga, Chicopoly and chess. ‘ ‘ Several board game titles are available from Demco, which is where I purchased some of these. The others my library had. ‘ Click through for details of our gaming session.

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A few years back I bought a chess board for our library, the kind with a magnetic board that makes it a bit portable, and one where I hoped students wouldn’t lose pieces too easily. I placed it on a spare student-sized desk near the library’s entrance with two nice chairs on either side. Teachers and students began sitting down or huddling deep into a game while waiting for a class to end or during a free period. I placed our few books about chess next to our game and hoped the board would help welcome in more library users. Then the school year ended.

When the new school year began, I put the chess board back on its desk. Three days into that school year, a handwritten notice was found under the board: Read More →

Over the past several weeks I’ve read articles and books and listened to podcasts that I think are must reads (and listens) for any person working in libraries and specifically with teens. Here’s the list:

What’s ROI? Return on Investment, or, spending a little, and getting a lot back. ROI = bang for your buck!

In tough budget times, libraries look for ways to stretch their dollars, and strive to maintain the level of services patrons expect. Board, card and/or video gaming is an excellent low budget investment, because hardware, software and equipment can be utilized for multiple age groups and styles of play. Read More →

YALSA will offer three online courses in October: AIMing at Tweens: Advising, Involving, Motivating, taught by Teri Lesesne; Graphic Novels and Teen Readers: The Basics and Beyond, taught by Francisca Goldsmith; and Reaching Teens with Gaming, taught by Beth Gallaway’  (hey, that’s me!).

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This year, we invited freelance game writer, Rafael Chandler, to talk with teens about what he does in his career. “I had a great time,” I heard one of the attendees tell his mom after the program.

What I liked, and from the teens’ questions and comments, it seems like they did as well, was how much game writing ties into what we already do at our libraries. Rafael compared the release of games in various languages to teens noticing cultural differences when they read manga. Read More →