Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Gaming and Libraries: strange bedfellows?

Not at all, from what I've read. I've been meaning to talk about Gaming. We started the discussion at the ALA Annual session on the E-scan...and I want to delve into it more--but for now, here's a piece that surprised me:
Online Gaming is done by Grandmas.

Here's the Wired article that a colleague, Mickey Hawk, sent around about The Wrinkled Future of Online Gaming.

Mickey explains that,

"we can't lose sight of seniors in the online future. I certainly
understand the attraction of enticing youth to our libraries to create lifelong relationships, but let's not lose them as they age.

Note that the key to 'gaming' and community in general seems to be to provide people with "a place to go" ('the third place' we've been talking about) that is exciting, yet familiar (This is one reason you see familiar offline icons used in online applications, like 'envelopes' used to communicate in e-mail applications and why it prospered as "e-mail" rather than "messaging"). Then entice them with new, but similar experiences while rewarding them for trying the new things."

Mickey went on to isolate a few key passages from the article:
Yet with 82.5 million players in the casual gaming sector, Word Whomp and its ilk have almost 20 times the following of the hardcore titles like Counter-Strike and EverQuest that get all the media attention.
--------
The ruling class of online gamers isn't pimply young boys, it's moms - and grandmas. Ruth Lyon is a 66-year-old retired nurse in Honor, Michigan. Instead of watching Jeopardy or reading, she spends three or four hours a night playing euchre and bridge online with her son in California and her daughter in Ohio. And, since she lives tucked away in a cottage on a remote lake, she finds it a convenient way to make friends. "It's amazing how many older people are doing this," she says. Online games also help Anne Richards, 56, feel less alone. Confined to a wheelchair, Richards spends a lot of time inside her Florida home. "What I really like is that it's a place to find some human contact," she says. "It gives me a place to go."
-------
"Gamer still has the connotation of technogeek. I don't think the Pogo audience even knows what a gamer is." But that's just semantics. As Hachenburg notes, "What's casual about someone spending eight hours a day playing Word Whomp?"
-------
Getting people to start gaming is one thing; getting them to keep doing it is another. Spinning around in his chair at EA, Tahd Frentzel says one reason he thinks people hang out at Pogo longer than at other gaming sites is the "experience" it offers. Badges aren't just hokey, pixelated tchotchkes, he says; they're sources of pride and self-esteem. Word Whomp offers players all the glory of an EverQuest win, but without the bloody mess.

Kudos to Mickey for sending this around. What are some of your experiences with gaming? Do people do it in your libraries? I'd like to put together a gaming portal where all of us who don't "game" can have a go of it. Anyone interested?


3 comments:

David said...

I've been gaming online in different forms (PC, Cell Phone, Xbox) for over 13 years plus I had a pinky toe in the industry when I was at CompuServe as a game reviewer and tester. So needless to say I would love to put together something like this. In the gaming realm you have different segments:
1. PC based (online/ offline / single player / multi player)

2. Console based (online/ offline / single player / multi player)

3. Mobile based (Cell / PDA / handheld) (online/ offline / single player / multi player)

4. Web Based (single / multi player)

A game can live in all segments but scaled to the limitations and advantages of the platform. Take for example Bejeweled. It can be played:

PC
online by a single or with multi players
PC off of a CD-rom instal
Console
Xbox Live account single or multi, Cell Phone single or multi.
There are a few gaming 'libraries' of sorts already on the net.
First there's MobyGames which seeks to be the IMDB of gaming. An example is one of my favs' Crimson Skies
http://www.mobygames.com/game/sheet/gameId,10832/

There are also sites dedicated to the preservation of older titles. The MAME emulators (http://www.mame.net/) keep older arcade titles alive while the Abandonware movement uploads whole games who's publisher's or developer's have gone out of business (http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Software/Abandonware/)

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