Friday, December 30, 2005

Video Game News, December 30, 2005

Supposing ... Video Games Taught Me Something Useful
Charlie Brooker, The Guardian 12/30/05
"Help me. Kill me. I'm obsessed with a Game Boy game."

'05: Best of Video Games
By Vince Horiuchi & Sam Vicchrilli, The Salt Lake Tribune 12/30/05
"Much of the year in gamedom can be summed up thus: Second verse same as the first. "

Analyst Estimates 1.2 Million Xbox 360s Shipped So Far
by Nich Maragos, Gamasutra 12/29/05
"Though Xbox 360 hardware shortages since the system's launch are widely known, with the allocations in the U.S. so severe that launch day-style lines cropped up again for the console's second shipment, the precise extent of the shortfall had not yet been known."

The Year of the Turtle
by Dave Thomas, The Escapist 12/30/05
"According to the Chinese calendar, we are finishing up the year of the rooster and heading into the year of the dog. I suggest that for games, 2005 was the year of the vole, or maybe the box turtle."

Puppies Aren't for Sissies

by Bonnie Ruberg, The Escapist 12/30/05
"Everyone Loves Nintendogs. You know it; I know it."

Video Game News, December 29, 2005

Video Games had Torrid Year
by Steve Tilley, London Free Press 12/29/05
"It has been a scorching hot year in video games, mostly for all the wrong reasons. "

This Nissan Concept Car Brakes for Video Games: The Urge comes with an Xbox 360 and uses the steering wheel and pedals to control play.
by John O'Dell, LA Times 12/29/05
"Gentleman, start your video games. Nissan Motor Co. next month will unveil at Detroit's auto show a concept sports car, called the Urge, equipped with Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 video game system."

When Video Games Became Too Real, They Lost Me
by Ryan Brosmer, IT 12/29/2005
"After last week's little hiatus, I was prepared to end the year with a few countdowns."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

1up's Essential 50 Videogames.

From 1up's Essential 50 Videogames. Italicize the ones you've played, bold the ones you've beaten (or played to such a sufficiently high level that you could routinely beat the scores of your average joe). Make a note if you didn't actually play it on its original platform, but instead played it on a MAME emulator or some "Greatest Hits" package.
  1. Spacewar (1962: PDP-1)
  2. Pong (1972: Arcade/Console) (and PC)
  3. Space Invaders (1978: Arcade) (and PC)
  4. Adventure (1979: Atari 2600)
  5. Battlezone (1980: Arcade)
  6. Pitfall! (1982: Atari 2600) (All my friends beat it, but I never did.)
  7. Zork (1977-79: DEC PDP-10)
  8. Game & Watch (1980-88)
  9. Star Wars (1983: Arcade)
  10. Pac-Man (1980: Arcade) (and handheld emulator)
  11. Donkey Kong (1981: Arcade) (and handheld emulator)
  12. Rogue (1980: VAX/BSD UNIX)
  13. E.T. (1982: Atari 2600)
  14. Dragon's Lair (1983: Arcade)
  15. King's Quest (1983: PC)
  16. One-on-One (1983: C64)
  17. Super Mario Bros. (1985: Arcade/NES) I saved the princess! w00t!
  18. Gauntlet (1985: Arcade)
  19. M.U.L.E. (1983: C64)
  20. Dragon Warrior (1986: NES)
  21. Ultima IV (1985: Apple II/PC)
  22. The Macintosh (1984)
  23. Tetris (1986: PC/NES/GameBoy)
  24. Prince of Persia (1989: PC)
  25. FaceBall 2000 (1990: GameBoy)
  26. Doom (1993: PC)
  27. John Madden NFL Football (1990: Genesis)
  28. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991: Genesis)
  29. Super Mario Kart (1992: Super NES)
  30. Populous (1989: Amiga/PC)
  31. Herzog Zwei (1991: Genesis)
  32. Street Fighter II (1991: Arcade)
  33. Myst (1993: Mac/PC)
  34. Mortal Kombat (1992: Arcade/SNES/Genesis)
  35. Virtua Fighter (1993: Arcade/32X)
  36. Super Mario 64 (1996: Nintendo 64)
  37. Tomb Raider (1996: PS/Saturn/PC/Mac)
  38. Final Fantasy VII (1997: PS/PC)
  39. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999: PS)
  40. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998: N64)
  41. Metal Gear Solid (1998: PS)
  42. Half-Life (1998: PC)
  43. Gran Turismo (1998: PS)
  44. Parappa the Rapper (1997: PS)
  45. Ultima Online (1997: PC)
  46. Pokémon (1998: GameBoy)
  47. The Sims (2000: PC)
  48. Jet Grind Radio (2000: Dreamcast)
  49. Grand Theft Auto III (2001: PS2/Xbox/PC)
  50. Halo (2001: Xbox/PC/Mac)

I play more than I win, and yet I keep trying...

"The Escapist #25: Year in Review" Now Available

Read abstracts at the Escapist Lounge at:
Or read the entire issue at

Video Game News, December 28, 2005

Take Quick Look at Best Video Games of 2005
by Marc Saltzman, Gannett News Service 12/28/05
"It was a thumb-numbing year for video gamers. "

Video Game News, December 27, 2005

Video Games to Liven up Holiday Soirees
by Lou Kesten, AP 12/27/05
"Where I come from, a party isn't a party until (a) there's an unlikely couple making out in the laundry room, (b) a piece of furniture has been broken and (c) the police and/or paramedics have been called. Oh, and (d) there's a crowd forming around the video game setup."

My Son and I, Game to Learn
by Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post 12/26/05
"This year my knowing 11-year-old was told to write to Santa Claus, partly to keep the fun going for his younger siblings and partly because it forced him to write. He seized the opportunity to ask, naturally, for a computer game: more stuff to distract him from writing and books."

Holidays All About Fun and Video Games: Area gamers relish time to play with family and friends
by Heather Newman, Detroit Free Press, 12/27/05
"Cleveland Bonds is already laying down the rules in his family about who gets to play the new video games they got Christmas morning."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Video Game News, December 25, 2005

The Year That Games Discovered Their Star Power
by Charles Herold, New York Times 12/25/05
"From "King Kong" to "Batman Begins," film-based titles are holding the screen on their own."

Video Games Can Benefit Some Children
by Jim Killackey, The Oklahoman 12/25/05
"Computer and video games were among the more popular gifts beneath the tree this year."

Club lets kids create their own video games: Program fosters tech skills, imagination
by HongDao Nguyen, Mercury News 12/25/05
"In Neilash Bhartu's virtual world, the 12-year-old deftly guns down floating skulls and corrupt military officials."

Video Game Creators Showed They Can be Innovative - Even in Turning Out Sequels
by Monty Phan, Newsday 12/25/05
"Video game Creators showed they can be innovative - even in turning out sequels."

Gaming in Libraries Blog

Handouts, presentations and podcasts (soon)! from the Gaming, Learning & Libraries Symposium, posted to a blog to continue the discussion from December 5 & 6, 2005. Join the conversation at

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Video Game News, December 24, 2005

California Minors Now Have Access to Violent Video Games
by Arlene Woodward, NAMC Newswire 12/24/05
"This past Thursday a law in California that was developed to protect children from violent and explicit video games was shot down, or at least blocked for now by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte."

Confronting the Demon Within, and Other Good Fun
by Charles Herold, New York Times 12/24/05
"Video games often contain a battle between two sides but in Ubisoft's Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the main battle is not between the prince and the demon hordes he fights but between the good and evil within himself."

Video Games and Other Gifts Touch Family Battling Cancer

by Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian 12/24/05
'The story of Kit's cancer, and his mother Pat's thyroid cancer, which has spread to her lungs, prompted Oregonian readers to send gift cards for restaurants, gas and car repairs, new tires -- and a PlayStation 2 from little Nicholas Rooney."

Video Game News , December 22-24, 2005

Violent Video Games Get Reprieve in the US
by Stuart Miles, Pocket Lint 12/23/05
"Californian law that made it illegal to sell or rent violent or sexually explicit games to children has been blocked by a US federal judge."

Parents Face Video Games Dilemma
by Mark Ward, BBC 12/23/05
"It has often been observed that the family that plays together stays together, but does that still apply when it comes to computer games?"

Response Has Been 'Positive' Say Owners of Iceman Video Games
Kawartha 12/23/05
"'This is the quietest the store has been all day,' says Iceman Video Games co-owner Gary Butler, as two people left his newly opened store on Tuesday afternoon."

Judge Nixes California Ban on Selling Violent Video Games to Children
Turkish Press News 12/23/05
"A federal judge has blocked California from banning sales of violent video games to children, prompting backers to vow on Friday to take their case to the US Supreme Court if necessary."

Question of the Week Responses: HD Video Games?

Gamasutra, 12/24/05
"With Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 set to support a resolution of at least 720p, pushing high-definition as a prominent feature in the next-generation of consoles, Gamasutra asked our audience: 'Is HD important to the future of video games?'"

Revolution Report: Women and Video Games

by Aaron Canaday, Revolution Report 12/21/05
"During a simple get together of either friends or family, it is fairly common to see a bunch of guys sitting on a couch playing a first person shooter (FPS) or sports game such as Madden, while the women in the group opt to remove themselves from the general gaming vicinity."

Violent and Sexual Video Games in Senate Crosshairs

by Kim Trobee, Family News In Focus 12/2/4/05
Legislation to monitor the industry is set in motion.
"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Joseph Lieberman introduced the Family Protection Act in the Senate. Senator Clinton spoke of their intent..."

Video Games Sales Slump
by Roger Park, iMedia Connection 12/22/05
"The video game industry reported software sales declined from 2004 for a third straight month in November, the Associated Press reported."

Religious Groups Seek to Stop Sale of Violent Video Games to Minors

by Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service 12/21/05
"Too many violent video games rated M, for mature audiences, are going directly into the hands of minors who buy them from retail stores, a group of religious investors has declared."


Space still available in Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science Online Continuing Education Workshop Get Your Game On: Video Games and Librarians , running 1/2/06-1/31/06. The fee is $250. Register by completing and mailing the registration form at

At first glance, one might think that libraries and video games are the antithesis of each other; yet research suggests there is a great deal of cognition and even literacy activity occurring in today's games. As the average age of the gamer -- and the number of people playing them -- continues to increase, libraries must consider how to serve this new user group: the gamer. Learn about the gamer generation and discover simple techniques for narrowing the generation gap between gamers and boomers. Evaluate several video games, and discuss the virtues and vices of games before forming a plan to incorporate games into your library. All software used is FREE. Participants need computer access, one hour a week to complete readings and respond to discussion, and one hour a week to play games. Participants are also encouraged to take a field trip to a location where games are sold. Faculty: Beth Gallaway, library trainer/consultant for youth services, Metrowest MA Regional Library System, and YALSA Serving the Underserved Trainer,

Friday, December 23, 2005

Student Essay on Video Games

This is an articulate persuasive paper on video games by a 9th grader. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Video Game News, December 21, 2005

Video Games: Are the myths true?
by Dave Munger, Cognitive Daily 12/19/05
"We learned from Alas, a Blog that Henry Jenkins has written an essay for PBS about video games, making the case that the public doesn’t understand what the games are all about."

Myths and Realities of Gaming

ACRL Blog 12/20/05
"A previous post here at ACRLog discussed higher education’s divided response to Millennial Generation learners. While some experts advocate changing teaching methods to conform with the learning styles of Millennials, others insist that it’s the Millennials who need to conform to the way the professor chooses to teach."

Some Local Stores Still Selling Mature Video Games to Minors
KESQ News 12/20/05
"A new state law will penalize stores that sell mature-rated video games to kids starting January 1st."

The Year In Video Games: 2005's Greatest Gaming Moments: 10 fresh scenes and surprising twists that made games worth playing this year.
by Stephen Totilo, MTV 12/20/05
"Each year has its video games, and each game has its moments. Or at least one hopes each game has its moments. Like a great script that makes an actor eager to play a role, great game moments can make a game worth playing."

Now here's a positive use for video games: Buy this year's hot product and help kids Xbox 360 auction aims to raise cash for charity

by Leslie Ferenc, The Star 12/21/05
"It's one of the most sought-after gifts of the season and on the holiday wish lists of countless kids — young and old."

New Controller Makes Video Games Healthier Image

by Dr. Maria Simbrag KDKA 12/20/05
"After taking the blame for kids being complacent and overweight , video games have been found to be healthy for kids."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


My husband and I were doing some holiday shopping in Toys 'R' Us right after Thanksgiving (for my 3 1/2 year old twin niece and nephew) and just happened to end up in the video game corner looking at the new games for the XBox 360 (which we still don't have. Grrr.). The store had an EyeToy set up and I amused myself (and several other shoppers) for 15 minutes trying a skateboarding game called AntiGrav.

The EyeToy, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, is a tiny USB camera that plugs into the front of the PS2. The camera is placed above or below your tv, and it transmits your image into the game to read the movements of your hands, arms and body - so instead of holding a controller to press the start button, you wave your arm in the air to pass your hand over the start button. It's a way to interact with the game in a kinetic and intuitive way. The camera has a built in microphone and picks up audiocues as well.

So, we didn't buy one right away... but I'd already tried it way back in June at ALA, because the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry had an EyeToy as part of the Game On! exhibit. So I knew I wanted one... and lo and behold, because I basically am a spoiled rotten brat (I can admit it!) my husband bought one and brought it home the first week of December. We got an EyeToy with Play2 - 12 games plus a collection of 75 bonus games - with the camera. I've been too busy to try it! So tonight, I finally opened up the box, plugged in my EyeToy and popped in the disc.

Wow. It was so cool. I played Drummer, Table Tennis, Kung2, and Air Guitar. Coordinating my hands with the game took some getting used to, but I advanced quickly in the Drummer game, and now I really want to try Donkey Konga (we've been talking about getting a used Gamecube). My arms got tired pretty quickly. It beat sitting on the couch or in front of the computer, but I think I like DDR better. The exciting news is that there are several dancing games and a karaoke game that are compatible with the EyeToy, although I think it just puts your image into the game, as opposed to recording your steps/voice without other peripherals (controller, microphone).

For more information about EyeToy:
EyeToy website

Richard Marks. "User Interfaces in Interactive Environments." IT Conversations, 11/7/04 (note: this is where I first heard about EyeToy, from this podcast last fall).

The Escapist #24: Season's Gaming

Issue #24 of the Escapist Magazine focuses on the holidays and games. Instead of ME annotating the articles, you can check out the brief summaries on their own blog at or just read the darn issue at

Video Game News, December 20, 2005

Using Video Games to Explore History
by James Ransom-Wiley, Joystiq 12/19/05
"Late last night, I caught a few minutes of the History Channel’s Brother in Arms documentary, which uses Ubisoft’s series of the same name, to tell the story of the 101st Airborne, 502nd Parachute Infantry during the Normandy Invasion."

Christians Converting Video Games to Reflect Their Beliefs
by Don Fernandez, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12/19/05
"Grand Theft Auto" has been impounded in the Gardner household. So have 1,000 other video games filled with debauchery, decadence and carnage."

Senate Mulls Enforcement of Age Ratings for Video Games
Out-Law News, 12/19/2005
"Legislation designed to stop the sale of inappropriate video games to children was introduced into the US Senate last week. The bill would make it an offence for retailers to sell a Mature, Adults-Only, or Ratings Pending game to anyone under 17."

Video Games Suck (Our Blood)
by Vicente Verdu, El Pais Spain 12/19/05
"In the 20th century photography was long looked down on as a sub-art form; in the 19th, the waltz was long thought shocking. Now, when television has scarcely earned respectability, video games loom as a new peril."

Letter to the Editor: Kids Less Violent Despite Video Games

by Eric Sternberger, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette 12/19/05
"If you look at the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics, the violent crime rate for kids 12 and over is at the lowest point in the past 30 years. To go even further and quote the DOJ report directly: 'Recently, the offending rates for 14- to 17-year-olds reached the lowest levels ever recorded.'"

McLester, Susan. "Game Plan Part 2: Student Gamecraft." Technology & Learning, January 2006 pp 20-24

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Video Game News, December 19, 2005

I hate it when I put together my news link on Sunday and forget to publish it on Monday. Sorry folks!

Editorial: The Brain, the Biology Classroom & Kids with Video Games
by Ann Haley MacKenzie, American Biology Teacher vol 67 no 9 Nov/Dec 2005 pp 517-518
"Evolution is a wondrous thing. We, as biologists, would agree that the mechanisms behind
change remind us of the power of nature and the adaptability of creatures in environments as different as the Mexican desert and the Amazon rainforest."
*note: you may need to access this artcile from a favorite biology teacher or science database :) Thanks to my friend Emily Alling for the source*

Link Seen to Video Games in Prostitute's Murder
by Jarrod Booker, New Zealand Herald 12/17/05
"A man will appear in court today charged with the murder, rape and kidnapping of a prostitute who pleaded for her life as she was repeatedly run over by a car."

Clinton, Lieberman, Bayh Introduce Bill On Violent Video-Games…
by Christopher Conkey, Wall Street Journal 12/17/05
"Legislative efforts to keep ultraviolent and sexually explicit videogames away from children are running into a legal roadblock: the First Amendment."

Plug-and-Play Video Games Offer Low-Cost Alternative
by Scott Craven, The Arizona Republic 12/18/05
"They use years-old technology that produces graphics usually found only in video-game history books."

Senators Propose Fines on Violent, Overly Sexual Video Games; Stores that Sell, Rent to Kids Under 17 Targeted in Plan

by Kristina Herrndobler, San Fancisco Chronicle 12/18/05
"A trio of Democratic senators unveiled a proposal Friday to impose fines on retail outlets selling or renting violent and sexually explicit video games to children under age 17."

Peace on Earth? Hey, what about video games? New gaming consoles and dancing robotic dogs on many wish lists -- but not on many store shelves?
by Janine DeFao, San Fancisco Chronicle 12/18/05
"Shepherds would have quaked at the sight, and Frosty the Snowman might have melted: On the last shopping weekend before Christmas, parents were searching frantically for the gifts that their children must have but that no one can find."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Gamer's Quarter Issue #4 Now Available

The Gamer's Quarter Issue #4 Now Available and contains the following articles; download for free at

Shadows of an Art Form - Mr. Mechanical
Shadow of the Colossus - PS2

The Hero and the Sleeping Woman - JMG114
Myth and Good Storytelling in Video Games

Remembering Zelda II - The Great St. Louis
The Adventure Of Link, 15 Years Later

Riven is Probably my Favorite Game Ever - Ajutla
Riven - MAC, PC, PS1, SAT

Controller (R)Evolution - dessgeega
Nintendo, my mother, and the future of videogames.

We Must Free The Things We Love - dhex
We <3 Katamari - PS2

Wall-Jumping for Kicks - Swimmy
Super Metroid - SNES

Good Old-Fashioned Family Fun - KaterinLHC
Video Game Championship of the World

Show Me Something Georgeous - Mister Toups
A Brief Analysis of Videogame Aesthetics

Metal Gear Crossing - Persona-sama
Furniture Collecting Action!!

Interview with Greg Costikyan - dhex
Manifesto Games

Awakenings - Ajutla
NO$GMB – Gateway PC

Doubting Heroes - Faithless
God Of War - PS2

A Mighty Sword Against the Bacterians. The Story of Gradius the
Almighty - Randorama
A retrospective on the legend of planet Gradius, the Bacterians, and
the last 20 years or so of Options around the screen.
Arcadia of my Youth - Seryogin
On Japanese Role-Playing Games and Life

Ambidextrous Ambiance - ShaperMC
Beatmania - Arcade, PS1, PS2

Love Love Dance- dessgeega
Gunstar Super Heroes - GBA

Furries: Hedgehog Hodgepodge - Rabeewilliams
Influences for a Hedgehog

The Gamer's Quarter Accepts its First Bribe - SuperWes
Street Fighter Alpha: Generations - DVD

The Doom Generation - Mr. Mechanical
Fast, Hard and Brutal, Like Doom Was, But Not Really

The Happiest Time of My Live - Pat the Great
Chrono Trigger - SNES, PS1

Why Game? - Swimmy
Reason #3: Analysis

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Escapist #23

Issue #23 of The Escapist Magazine focuses on Gaming Below the Radar. "Obscurity Below the Radar" by Joe Szczepaniak exposes (anonymously) the subculture of trading and playing unreleased games, hardware and software, including where to find them (hint: review copies!); Bruce Geryk examines the casual games industry in "Casual Wonder;" in "Games of the Fairer Sex," Bonnie Ruberg concludes "the 'shoddy' girl game reputation is well-deserved," but remains optimistic about the future; Simon Abramovitch reminiscies about low-investment gaming and the dichotomoy between the games and the technoology (and the challenges of keeping up to never get ahead) in "Sisyphus Gaming;" Shannon Drake interviews Paul Jensen, president of SkillJam Technology in "Scrappy Kids Make it Big," and Joe Blancato's "I'm a hardcore casual gamer"postulation made me stand up and cheer. Read online at

Video Game News, December 16, 2005

Ex-Insider Is Out to Shake Up Video Games
by Matt Riochtel, New York Times, 12/16/05
"A venture capital firm is putting its backing behind a couple of upstarts."

The Xbox 360: What happens when video games get too real
by James Surowiecki, Slate 12/15/05
"The Xbox 360 is the best game console ever designed."

MOVIE GAMES: Video Games go Hollywood

by Matt Slagle, Associated Press 12/15/05
"Video games tend to make terrible movies, and vice versa."

Used Video Games Offer Secondhand Thrills: Market for used video games is hot and growing hotter
by Sarana Schell, Anchorage Daily News 12/15/05
"Brandon Mommsen, 10, looked all over Anchorage for a Gold version Pokemon game for his Gameboy."

Christian-run Invest Firm Fights Violent Video Games
by Jesse Noyes, Boston Herald 12/15/05
"Julie Tanner wants retailers to keep violent video games out of kids’ hands. "

Nintendo Restricts Access to Violent Video Games
NewsDay, 12/15/05
"The new Revolution console from Nintendo will allow users to require passwords for games that have ratings aimed at older gamers like "T" for "teen" and "M" for "mature." The new Xbox 360 also lets users restrict access."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Video Game News , December 14, 2005

Poll: Videogames or Video Games. Which is it?
by Christopher Grant, Joystiq 12/14/05
"Linguists unite! David at buzzcut has just stirred up a whole hornet’s nest of cultural confusion."

Video Games, Hostility Linked
myDNA 12/14/05
"Before you go out and buy your kid a video game for Christmas this year, you should consider the implications it could have on your child's frame of mind."

Games In 2005-2006: Tim Gerritsen: The CEO of Human Head Studios gives his views on the past year in games and what's ahead of 2006.

by John "JCal" Callaham, GameCloud 12/14/05
"Gamecloud continues our series of Q&As with game developers looking back in 2005 and looking forward to 2006 in the game industry with our chat with Tim Gerritsen, the CEO of Human Head Studios."

India's New Export: Video Games: Historical battle title Emperor Ashoka is mobile-phone-game maker Indiagames' first crack at the global market
by Reena Jana, Business Week 12/14/05
"With multiple limbs and each hand wielding a different weapon, the fearsome Indian warrior-goddess Kali is a natural video-game character."

Video Games Have Sequel-Happy Year
Associated Press 12/14/05
"Beyond a few innovative titles and some promising new hardware, the video game industry largely continued to do what it does best in 2005: churning out sequels, movie tie-ins and ultraviolence."

Brain Response Altered By Violent Video Games Claim

by Mike Slocombe, Digital-Lifestyles.Info 12/14/05
"The New Scientist is reporting that US researchers have discovered a brain mechanism that may link violent computer games with aggression."

2006 IGF Main Competition Finalists Announced!

Independent Game Festival, 12/11/05
Following an amazing set of entries for this year's IGF, we're pleased to announced that the judges have picked this year's Independent Games Festival finalists, and they are as follows...

Gaming In Libraries 2005: Tue Dec 6: Christy Branston

Christy Branston from the University of Waterloo worked on a game to instruct library staff in Government Information when the GovInfo position was eliminated and the general reference staff was going to have to take these questions on.

Christy, a gamer herself (as evidenced from screenshots from the games she plays, mostly PC – SimCity, Tomb Raider, Myst, etc.) saw a problem and used a game to create a solution

Her own experience with SimCity 3000, a game that is entertaining with learning as a bi-product, helped her understand urban design and planning. This is a game that teaches economics, zoning, architecture, infrastructure, energy resourcefulness, sanitation politics and more.

She recommended James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy to legitimize gaming. Christy suggested that substituting the words “Learning Object” for “Games” may get buy in from staff and faculty.
Games [Learning Objects] encourage people to experience the world in new ways
Games [Learning Objects] develop problem-solving skills
Games [Learning Objects] importance of affinity group

The University of Waterloo offered a class ARTS303: Gaming, Simulation and Learning taught by Dr. Kevin Hannigan. Students meet departmental needs for games that would teach Canadian history, evolutionary biology, skills in the working world, and preparing for residence life.

The class curriculum included the history of gaming to build a foundation, storytelling and creating compelling content, and strategy. Two elements the students revisited as they created the edutainment games were:
Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
Knowledge -> Comprehension -> Application -> Analysis -> Evaluation
Angelos’ Teacher’s Dozen
14 general research- based principles for improving higher learning in our classrooms, such as information learned in personally meaningful ways is more readily retained.

Games included:
RedPath Mystery used Blender, open source 3-D modeling software with a built in support network. Real-life mysteries provided clues and allowed users to draw their own conclusions.

RezLife built on the Half-Life gaming engine.

N.E.D. used VirTools, a 3-D gaming platform to teach networking skills to students & grads through a networking etiquette dummy.

Galapagos Sandbox created to get past a stumbling block in third year evolutionary biology. Used SimIsland model Darwin as God – manipulate climate, food sources, etc. to evolve the finch.

The ARTS303 experience helped Christy consider doing her Government Info training within a game environment. She offered some questions to consider for game based learning and library instruction:
Is it effective? Statistics say no (and so did Walt, yesterday).
What are commercial games doing right? No testing – accidental learning
Evidence based librarianship
Experiment on staff – take different learning styles into consideration. Prepare staff early – about a year in advance. Christy talked about online training, but kept the fact that it was a game a secret, then marketed by using a Survivor-esque tie-in of competition.

The Game University of Waterloo -> Information Services & Resources -> GovInfo Training
A coop student from LIS helped put it all together in the form of course/lessons, rather than modules. Lessons were accompanied by a task.
  1. Understanding Government
  2. Statistics & Data
  3. Canadian Legal System/Resources
  4. Best GovInfo Practices

The competition/collaboration aspects made the staff accountable. Tasks/Lessons are run on a timeline, and low budget prizes help to reward participants. Humor and Easter Eggs was added throughout the lessons. This was a test to make sure players read thoroughly, and a nod to a game design practice. Team standings are publicized. When a player admitted to “cheating,” Christy called it strategizing.

The game could be improved by offering instant feedback, and didn’t offer an opportunity to teach to the level of the learner.

Christy also had some suggestions for why educational games fail – they become too task oriented, and the fun gets lost. Libraries are a great place to start fitting in with game design curriculums.

She concluded with some thanks and some references before taking questions.

Although the game is on a password protected webpage, we may be able to access it publicly at some point.

Gaming In Libraries 2005: Mon Dec 5: Walt Scacchi


Walt Scacchi
from the Institute for Software Research, and director of research for the Laboratory for Game Culture and Technology at U CA, Irvine framed his talk on “Computer Games in Libraries” in terms of game culture and technology, new game opportunities for public libraries and libraries as community centers for games culture and technology.

Game culture and technology recognizes that games are immersive, experiential literary forms. Game play is emergent narrative, gaming is a global industry, modding is practice based learning and career development, games are new media, new cultural forms, and game culture is a social movement.

Walt said he thought that radio, cinema, television and the Internet all had impact on libraries (ha!) and like those other new formats, will require dedicated physical space and special collections in libraries.

FPS focusing on storytelling and storymaking from a first person perspective – the player becomes the character, the character’s story becomes the player's story.

Walt reinforced the idea that gaming is about reading and writing (even card games!). tracks online gaming 3-4 million players a day over 78,000 servers (An analogy: every server online is like a broadcast TV station – over 80,000 channels.)

Games tops application area for open source projects/software, and only a small number of people are making mods. However, a small number of people can connect a lot of people. They can have significant impact though (think of six degrees of Kevin Bacon). Walt's slide “When you program open source, you’re programming communism” demonstrated that social movements require an opposing force.

Games are also about creating careers. There is gameplay, and metagame play, and expertise evolves into jobs. Games are now coming with mod tools –Software Development Kits (SDK) that comes with the retailed game engine;1-2% takes on modding activity.

There is a layman’s guide to making mods that takes the ethics/consequences of mods into consideration. Example: Counterstrike mod – 95% of Half-Life purchases are to play the free download Counterstrike.

New languages are emerging such as "l33t." Walt referenced a recent article “LA Renews its Libraries as Modern Civic Centers: more than just housing books, the new and refurbished librarians bring people together.” by Noam M. Levey, LATimes, 11/27/05

Walt gave an overview of New Game-related R&D efforts
  • Visual and performing arts – portals for artists, game as medium
  • Humanities and Social Science - machinima
  • Alternative Game cultures and venues – hot rod gaming computers (overclock and speed up computer to gain an advantage), LANs (socializing) GameCons (learning)
  • Science Learning and Technology Education
  • Games for informal education
  • Learning STEM domains and practices through immersive roleplaying

He spoke about an MIT experiment – players tried to turn Battlefield game (FPS) into a nightclub to get characters to dance together instead of shooting one another.

50 million units of the Sims sold @ $40 apiece; around 100,000 people turn the Sims into a storytelling medium. Hollywood screenwriters are testing out their ideas in games! A readership of 100,000 downloads is a successful publication. You can trecast, replay and rewrite someone else’s mod. The Movies, a new game, is a natural progression of the popularity of in-game film. The Movies embraces machinima as the whole point of the game. It’s been out for about 6 weeks, and a 6 minute movie “The French Democracy” gets its plot from the Paris riots of just a few weeks ago. Additionally, it is subtitled in English, not the primary language of the user. Use of a game to comment socially and politically on current events.

Gaming is social –LAN parties are opportunities for people to bring their hot rod computers and play with friends. These are BYOComputer events! An example: Quake con: 5500 participants, pay to play. And they pay (the average online gamer is 29, with a $70000 income and has high end game machine (around $5000 retail, worth up to $10,000 with "hot rod" mods).

You can have a LAN party anywhere there's room: the mall, the subway. Stakes can be steep: $50,000 prize to winner. For some photos of LAN parties, mods, and game centers, check out Libraries might consider new operating hours to accommodate LAN parties.

Educational Games – is it an oxymoron? “Bringing games into K-12 classrooms is a road to hell paved with good intentions.” There are no success stories to date.

Some examples of science education game sites:
Kinetic City Games is a 2 million dollar site that partners with National Science Foundation and AAAS to meet science standards for grades 6&7. the games are in flash, because it’s the most ubiquitous computing environment worldwide. Flash is not 3-D.

The Heart of the Matter
from CERN features an "accelerate the particle" game that won a Nobel prize in particle physics 20 years ago. No rules on the site – it’s intuitive.

Games do have a potential for learning but we are not going to be able to do it through schools for 3-5 years. There may be venues to experiment with the learning capabilities in afterschool or science/art/history museum and library programs. There are only 250 science museums in the US On Sunday night at our speaker's meet-up, Walt told me that (hopefully, I have this figure right, or he'll correct me if I am wrong) 80% of science education is learned not in the classroom, but hands on at science museums, because the school system isn’t able to provide hands on learning opportunities)

Telemetry Indianapolis is a driving simulation and a mechanical engineering software appropriate for males ages 12-85.

What about kids who can’t read? The very young, ESL students, etc who need to meet those science standards in subjects like the environment or the human body. Walt worked on creating a game story with tasks that relate to national science standards – questions with a transparent interface and no textual questions.

Walt concluded by talking a little bit about ethnicity and games. People now buy computers before they buy televisions, and games may be a way not just to bridge the digital divide but to bring information to younger non-native and ESL speakers.

He left us with a challenge: Library Specific Games that might be created:

Knowledge Quest
  • A navigational or adventure/discovery game
  • Find and assemble knowledge from library resources
  • Acquire library research skills
  • Resident librarians are the mentors and masters of the game
  • This is a game that could be built with open source and community participation.
Interlibrary game grid
  • MLS a a public network of aonline information accessible through home work school and libraries
  • Create a virtual value added network for library patrons
  • Facilitate inter-library game play and game culture ie branches compete on Civ IV or create a movie together – collective moding.
  • Deploy online community information sharing systems
  • My game space web portals, blog, wikis, rss rofuns, etc – reading and writing!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Video Game News, December 13, 2005

Video Games Bring Phys-Ed Indoors
by Selicia Kennedy-Ross, San Bernardino County Sun, 12/12/05
"They danced, danced, danced. Then they rode four-wheeled vehicles and did a little boxing and martial arts."

Interview: Games In 2005-2006: Randy Pitchford: The head of Gearbox Software gives his views on the past year in games and what's ahead of 2006.
by John JCal" Callaham, Gamecloud 12/13/05
"Gamecloud continues our series of Q&As with game developers looking back in 2005 and looking forward to 2006 in the game industry with our chat with Randy Pitchford, the head of Gearbox Software." The Video Games Issues Dec 12-22
"Video games are not just for kids — or guys — anymore. The average player is thirty."

by Nicole Radzievich, The Morning Call Online 12/13/05
"Four-year-old Liam Henry buried his head in his mother's shoulder Monday, the day after he was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital-Fountain Hill."

Touching Story of Kids, Video Games

by Ryan Gauthier and Sundeep Malladi, The Badger Herald 12/13/05
"With holiday cheer in the air, everyone’s favorite game junkies are making it our goal to spread a positive message of gaming to our readers."

Paying Real Money to Win Online Games.
by Robert Siegel, NPR, All Things Considered. 11/30/05
"Sometime today, millions of people -- most of them in the U.S. and the Far East -- will check out of this world and into what economist Edward Castronova calls a "'synthetic world.'"

Playing Long-Distance Virtual War Games

by Christopher Elliott, NPR, Day to Day 12/13/05
"Military officials sampled more than 450 flight simulation and virtual combat applications from defense contractors at this year's Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Fla."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Video Game News, December 12, 2005

Video Games Making 2nd Wave of Korean Culture Boom 12/12/05
"The K-pop singers and movie stars have grabbed the spotlight as the Korean wave, or “hallyu,” sweeps over Asia, but it is Korea's video game companies that count the biggest pile of cold cash for the export of their wares."

Violent Video Games Alter Brain's Response to Violence

by Helen Phillips, New Scientist.Com 12/12/05
"A brain mechanism that may link violent computer games with aggression has been discovered by researchers in the US."

Video Games Can Help Children’s Health
VHI Irish 8/2/05
"Video games can have health benefits for children, argued an expert in last week's British Medical Journal (BMJ)."

69-year-old Grandma Plays Video Games 10 Hours a Day 12/12/05
"Timothy Saint Hilaire of Ohio love spending time with his grandma. While many grandmothers bake apple pies or play bridge, Timothy's grandma plays video games."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Video Game News, December 11, 2005

Cashing in on Video Games nz, 12/12/05
"As video games become more mainstream, game development is emerging as a respectable industry, writes Reuben Schwarz."

Video Games' Effects on Players Mixed: Games gain visual skills, but may be more aggressive
by Chris Reissaus, Y-press/IndyStar 12/11/05
"Video games have evolved since they first became popular in the late 1970s."

Turning Video Games' Power into a Positive

by Rick Montgomery, Contra Costa Times 12/11/05
"A plague of grogginess swept high schools in November 2004, reducing testosterone-charged guys into "Dawn of the Dead" extras, sleepless zombies dragging backpacks."

Love of Video Games Pays Off for Aspiring Programmer

by Douglas Sams, Gwinnett Daily Post 12/11/05
"Frustrated parents who think their children play too many mind-draining video games might consider this: The kids could make a solid career out of it."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Video Game News, December 10, 2005

Out of old video games and computers comes a new genre of music
by Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times 12/10/05
"A virtual wonderland of chunky brown keyboards, green-screened monitors and a mound of aging joysticks, Seth Sternberger's apartment would have been any kid's dream pad -- circa 1983."

PRESS RELEASE: Expert Helps Parents Understand World of Video, Computer Games

Ascribe 12/9/05
"Adults who are not familiar with video and computer games should be cautious about what they buy children this holiday season, says a Purdue University video game expert. "

Friday, December 09, 2005

Video Game News, December 9, 2005

A Look Ahead: Bayh wants law on selling violent video games to minors
Journal & Courier, 12/8/05
"Many parents are accustomed to seeing video game ratings, but they have mixed feelings on the enforcement of those ratings by law."

French Govt to Introduce Tax Credit for Video Games Industry in 2006

Forbes 12/9/05
"French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said the introduction of a tax credit system for the video game industry should take place 'in 2006... as soon as possible.'"

Video Games Go to the Movies: Machinima, which uses game elements to create films, just might be ready for prime time

by Carol Matlack, Business Week 12/9/05
"Machinima? Don't be embarrassed if you've never heard of it. A month ago, Alex Chan hadn't either."

Gamepedia Catalogs Video Games
by Peter Cohen, Mac World 12/9/05
"’s Gamepedia is a simple database application that lets you catalog and keep track of your video and computer games."

"Initiated in 2000 by the Media Awareness Network (MNet), Young Canadians in a Wired World (YCWW) is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging study of its kind in Canada. The research project tracks and investigates the behaviours, attitudes, and opinions of Canadian children and youth with respect to their use of the Internet."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Gaming In Libraries 2005: Mon Dec 5: Constance Steinkuehler

Constance Steinkuehler
The Gaming Generation and Libraries: Intersections

Constance focused her discussion on MMOGs: Massive Multiplayer Online Games, games that are highly graphical, foster online social interactions, have persistent virtual worlds, play is in real-time, perpetually accessible, loosely structured, offer freedom to do what you like.
“Escapist fantasy” yet emergent “social realism”

Her research has focused on Lineage II. The world of Aden is the "place" where Lineage is played. “In the three years of playing this game I have learned more about military strategy than I ever wanted to know,” said Contance, who chose to play a princess character that ended up as a guild leader. A 6 hour siege can be filmed in game – Constance showed a clip of a takeover of Dion castle light elves against dark and told the crowd it took 2-6 WEEKS to plan the seige (maps, meetings, strategy, etc).

A participant asked Constance, “What happens in a game like this when you die?” She explained there is no permanent death. You do lose experience points that make the character strong
(the idea of the game play is to level your avatar up by gaining experience and wealth).
Another participant asked if players “play many MMOGs games or stay loyal to just one?” She answered that generally, MMOG players are loyal to titles, because time investments make it difficult to jump ship.

MMOGs are significant because 6 million people play them (equal to the population of Chicago + L.A.)!

MMOG’s are economically significant. Trading sites like eBay allow the auction of in game items. The $3-$45 for a million edina = 1 platinum piece. In 2001, the world of Norrath (Everquest) was ranked as the 77th largest economy in the real world. Platinum trading higher than Yen & Lira, ranked between Russia & Bulgaria.

Constance’s 2 year ethnography of Lineage II revealed:
  • Socially & materially distributed cognition
  • Collaborative problem solving (group hunts) - like Cross Functional Teams as introduced by Glenn Parker planning to follow-up, diversity, self managed, crossover skills, group goals & individual accountability) like current workplace model.
  • Empirical model building (exploits)
  • Literacy practices
  • Negotiation
  • Authoring of identity
  • Systems of apprenticeship
  • Culture of collective intelligence

Her findings directly oppose fear about “The collapse of literacy and the rise of violence in the electronic age.” (a subtitle of a current book) and articles that say “These students will be more and more bad things if they are playing games and not doing other things like reading aloud" –CNET
"Video games are the fourth most dominant medium displacing print media and vying with other major electrons made in the lives of teens and young adult males..." (missed the source on this one)
“There is a basic social divide between those for whom life is a accrual of fresh experience and knowledge and those for whom maturity is a process of mental atrophy. The shift toward the latter category is frightening. Electronic media tend to be torpid.” NYT

Constance showed a convincing example of literacy in games, showing how what looks like a shorthand or code has a complex meaning decipherable by the players.

A line of in-game chat that reading:
afk g2g too EF ot Regen no poms
has meaning;
Away from keyboard, got to go to the Elven Forest to Regenerate; out of mana potion.
Furthermore the sentence contains a request (don’t type to me right now), a construal of events (here’s why) and an account (interpersonal). The abbreviations also acknowledge the player's activity level and in game expertise, because the player is using abbreviations from beta versions of the game.

Other examples of literacy in-game are "orally" delivered narrative and in-game letters besides in-game chat, quests, in game books and manuals and environmental signage.

There is more to these MMOG virtual worlds than what is inside the magic circle of game play (web text, outside technologies i.e. VOIP). There are many information spaces to navigate:
  • Official fandom – discussion boards, fanfic, that are corporate sponsored
  • Unofficial fandom – guild pages, boards, annotated photo albums, ingame email accounts in player name, personal game blogs, fan fic (writing on 11th grade level)
  • Player generated content is more important and more accurate than what comes from corporate
  • Sites for collective intelligence (I don’t need to know everything, because I can ask someone else – everyone knows something)
  • Showed example of exchange with a middle school fan fic writer that demonstrated the playing is inseparable from the game play
  • Games are CREATING “print media” not displacing it.

The statement that “98% of all player generated content is crap” is not true! Player-generated content promotes creativity and is an exercise in preparing a publication, and creating and evaluating materials. In fact, MMOG literacy practices EXCEED national reading writing and technology standards. Constance showed an example of a story a middle school student had written that was on an 11th grade reading leve.

We have a cultural fear of technology (It was once thought that the telephone might ruin the American family, because loose women might call family men and seduce them away from their homes).

We have a fear of youth culture
Woodstock, rock ‘n’ roll

And we have a fear of what kids are doing, not whether they are doing it (and how well)

Another feature of MMOGs COnstance focused on was peer to peer, reciprocal Apprenticeship (a way of learning that doesn't include a traditional overview/quiz/release cycle). Apprenticeship online consists of:
  • Engaging in joint participation
  • Scaffolding
  • Sequencing
  • Efficiency
  • Practice
  • Feedback
  • Focus of learned attention on goal
  • Routine & valued practice
  • Entrusting of more control to learner
Apprenticeship also departs a particular attitude or view of the world by modeling the type of player tutor wants apprentice to me: mentorship, procedural dexterity, efficiency, value of in game goods, equal distribution of opportunity.

Constance introduced the ethos of MMOGs
“Meritocracy Online” opportunities to be someone online that you can’t be in RL; the game is a space for people to become leaders not based on looks or presence. A powerful leader online could be an illegal immigrant welder offline.

MMOGs are a participatory culture, where production / consumption problematized and a collective intelligence exists. THere is an awareness of different games, multitasking across multiple attentional spaces, an ease with dynamic & evolving knowledge / practice, and the same Big D discourse in libraries, schools, games – different identity across. Games are a primacy of the subjective, a search not for goals, but for roles, and a striving for that identity eludes. Video games are push technology, but games are a push society as well.

Constance wrapped up with the question why should libraries care about MMOGs?
They are intellectually rich environments, sites for literacy practices (analogous to libraries or not!), and enculturation into practices and perspectives (participatory consumption) for example, not just reading the book, but rewriting and sharing it.

She talked about player mods as an example. One mod is when players rewrite the rules. For example, in Lineage they hold “Farm the Farmers” Day: guilds work together to clear encampments of farmers making real money in virtual economies. The game company had no clue about this social mod.

Technical mods are pieces of software to change your interface or improve the program.
They are very popular: average number of readers for an academic article is 1.8; one Lineage mod got 1400 “readers”

A modder identifies a problem, builds mod, distributes the mod, solicits feedback, talks to other modders, and the gaming practice becomes modding.

Movie mods are recorded gameplay, distributed to an audience. The example she showed was "Beer for My Horses," a WoW movie from
It's a music video composed from WoW images that has over 164000 downloads. When I searched for it to provide a link, this video game up before the original song!

A very important thing to note is that games are becoming 3rd places – just like libraries!
Games are social networks for building social capital: bonding (family & friends with things in common) and bridging (social interaction). Now the neighborhood is the bridge, and online the bonding is happening. Bridging introduces diversity of viewpoints, networking, media forms

Constance mentioned 3rd place characteristics, not a lot of time to get into it. A few: Neutral ground, Levelers, conversation is the main activity, accessible

If these issues are of interest, watch for more information about the Games+Learning+ Society conference June 15-16, Madison WI

Question from the audience: Is there mutiny in gameplay?
Constance: Oh yes! The possibility is ever-present. And there is a natural social progression of guilds. They form storm and regroup.

Gaming In Libraries 2005: Mon Dec 5: Steve Jones

Steve Jones wears many hats: Professor of Communication, Research Associate in the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, Adjunct Professor of Art & Design at the University of Illinois-Chicago and Adjunct Research Professor in the institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked on the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and is the son of a reference librarian in Skokee, presented the Gaming Landscape: College Students, Gaming and Learning. His introduction was a progression of his use of computers from 1970: communication, learning, productivity and learning.

Pew examines the role of Internet in every day life, daily tracking survey through random dial by phone (100000 respondents) to ask what they do online and why they are NOT online. Two gaming specific surveys took place in 2002 - a paper survey among students at 27 univerisity1162 responses and in spring 2005 online survey at 25 universities. He clarified the difference between marketing research on gaming (focuses on game adoption & revenue) and social science research on gaming (focuses on social issues such as gaming addiction, violence, isolation aggression).

One survey challenge was defining game categories. Crude division is as follows:
Video games consoles require tv and joystick.
Computer games require a computer run on PC/Mac
Online games require an Internet connection, often for multiplayer interaction

Data is still being processed on the more recent survey; the 2002 survey 70% played games once in a while, and 65% were regular or occasional gamers, 100% reported playing at one time or another; 27% who said they DIDN’T play had a lack of interest (20%) or felt games were a waste of time (13%), Steve said students reported the resources for game play are there – finance is not an issue.

Even gamers can’t define what a gamer is – mobile or handheld gaming “doesn’t count.” A new research opportunity may be to determine how gamers self define. More women than men reported playing computer and online games (60/40%), while console gaming was more equal (50/50%). Racially, gaming is still ubiquitous. Computer games (71%) more popular than consoles (59%) & online games (56%). 27% play video games daily, 31% play online games daily
37% play computer games daily. Twice as many college students play an online game (13%) as video game (6%); nearly half go online just to download or play games (45%)

More people are playing games than are playing poker or gambling online. No correlation has been found between online gameplay and gambling behaviors. Survey results show that as time passes, kids are exposed at younger ages, and there is a progression of starting with video games and moving into computer and online games.

Steve indicated that we need to get a handle on time management and gaming, examining how gamers make choices and what do they drop to fit games in?
College students play games after 9 PM and not so much before noon, and most games are played at their parent’s or friend’s homes. Library came in at 2%!

2/3 said that gaming doesn’t impact their academic performance, but it does cut into studying time. Gaming student report the same time spent studying as other students
only 31% reported using games in the classroom for learning, although 32% reported playing games not related to curriculum during class. Does this mean gamers are smarter or need to study less? 7 hours per week is the average (should be seven hours per CLASS).

All gamers want realistic graphics excitement and interactivity; racing, role-playing, adventure, & arcade games favored by video gamers while card games were predominate interest of computer and online gamers.

Findings demonstrate that gaming is integrated into everything else! It’s a multitasking activity that students do when they want to:
  • Take a break
  • Visit with friends (between IM)
  • As a brief distraction –going meta! Taking a break from a project or activity refreshes your vision and perspective when you return to the project or activity.
  • Alleviate boredom – anywhere.
If you’re gaming it doesn’t mean you aren’t paying attention. Gamers may not be singularly focused on the game. Do gamers have a need to be constantly entertained? asked Steve.

The younger the students, the more likely they are to play games. A survey of college faculty revealed that as age increases, the likelihood of faculty playing games decreases. We may be at a convergence – we may not be. Students will have greater facility, teachers will know the games they played. Will the gap ever be bridged, or will the older generations always be trying to catch up? This happens in libraries too – update or archive?

There is a “gaming divide” in terms of family income, not race. Does more money mean access to technology, freedom of time to play, or something else?

Steve introduced the VICI concept:

Sometimes the content does drive the medium – for example, higher math can be a great application of the CAVE, while basic math can be accessible with print, video, computer, games, etc.

CAVEs, though basic with screens, projectors, stereo equipment, can cost $500,000 to $1,000000. Space is required to host a CAVE, and space is at a premium too. One benfit to CAVEs is that they are networked, so CAVEs at different locations can share environments and perspectives.

Immeradesk is similar – more portable
Geowall, Autostereo etc… large display walls with LCD screens
Could use 2 projectors to display a single walled 3-D environ for about $10,000 and standard tech maintenance

Applications include historical environments, like virtual Harlem. How do ethics come into play? Are these fiction or nonfiction environments that we are creating? How do we make it realistic and true and accurate?

Gaming has implication for proliferation of global hi-speed networks, understanding of other cultures and languages, in education, with the addition of majors in game studies and game designs. We need to gain more public support, which is “not all it could be.” Favorite arguments are that pop culture is frivolous, etc.

One audience member asked if non-computer games were addressed in the new survey; Steve responded yes, in the second round of surveys, questions about non-computer games were addressed – D&D, board games etc. but the respondants seemed narrowly focused on computer games.

Video Game News, December 8, 2005

Drinking, video games: some people should pass on either
by Jerry Large, Seattle Times 12/8/05
"Alcohol and video games might seem unrelated, but each figures into many people's holidays."

UN relief agencies turn to video games to raise awareness of world’s ills
UN News Centre 12/8/05
"From the crippling toll of hunger to the desperate plight of refugees, United Nations relief agencies are turning to video games as a vivid tool with realistic simulation to raise awareness of the world’s ills among the more affluent nations."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Video Game News, December 7, 2005

Microsoft Sued over Alleged Xbox 360 Glitch
Reuters 12/5/05
"A Chicago man who bought Microsoft Corp.'s new Xbox 360 has sued the world's largest software maker, saying the new video game console has a design flaw that causes it to overheat and freeze up."

Website Will Help Parents Pick Suitable Video Games
by Yvonne Lee, All Headline News 12/7/05
"The British games industry is launching a new Web site aimed at helping parents determine which video games are suitable for their children."

Cyber Games Herald Video Games' Future

by Michael Y. Park Fox News 12/7/05
"Will the next world-famous athlete on a box of Wheaties be carrying a joystick instead of a basketball, football or tennis racquet?"

Upcoming Events

Women in Games International Announces their "Games for Women, Games by Women" Conference on February 18, in San Francisco CA. Register online at:

1UP Game of the Year Voting Begins: Your chance to decide - until December 31st.
by Jane Pinckard, 12/7/05
"And the nominations are in for the best games of this past year! The voting has started so make sure you go to to pick your favorites in each category."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Video Game News, December 6, 2005

Advertisers Following 'Eyeballs' to Games
by Jenn Abelson, The Boston Globe 12/6/05
"Luxury brands TAG Heuer, Bang & Olufsen and Lacoste are targeting a group of people you would not expect: 18- to 34-year-olds who spend hours playing video games."

Study Backs Ads in Video Games

AP 12/6/05
"Advertisers are always looking for new ways to sell you things, and one of the newest is video games."

Violent Video Games Desensitize Players to Real-World Violence
University of Michigan News Service 12/5/05
"Playing violent video games changes brain function and desensitizes chronic players to violence, a new study shows."

Technology Corner: Another victory for video games
by Robert F. Ludwick, The Rebel Yell 12/5/05
"The video game industry in the United States has notched another victory in the ongoing struggle between the industry and would-be censors."

Video Games for the Subteen Set
by Levi Buchanan, Chicago Tribune 12/6/05
"Video games aren't all blood and gore. Here's a list aimed at the 12-and-under set. Games cost $20 to $50, and the systems that play them cost $99 to $150."

Video Games Aren't Just Child's Play

by Julie Moran Alterio, The Journal News 12/5/05
"A chef and caterer, Charlotte Berwind spends a lot of time on the phone on hold with clients and vendors. "

Video Games Offer Tutorials in Violence
by State Rep. Fred Morgan (R-Oklahoma City), The Muskogee Phoenix 12/5/05
"If someone on the street offered to teach your children to decapitate their enemies, physically abuse women, and assassinate world leaders, you’d probably call the police."

Violence in Video Games
by Steven Williamson, Hexus Gaming 12/5/05
"In Iowa State University results have been announced from reserach in violence and video gaming."

Illinois Gov to Keep Fighting Violent Games
by Brendan Sinclair, GameSpot 12/5/05
"After the state's game restriction laws were declared unconstitutional, Governor Rod Blagojevich vows to appeal ruling, begin grassroots efforts."

Gaming in Libraries: Tue Dec 6: Eli Neiburger: "Implementing Gaming Applcations in Libraries


Eli Neiburger, Information Access and Systems Manager at Ann Arbor District Library, showed off his Zelda tattoo and told us why we need to do and how to convince the brass in his presentation “Implementing Gaming Applications in Libraries,” complete with a menu of costs of equipment required.

This is like storytime! A social program that you can repeat exactly the same way for little money and get a bigger audience every time.

Bring in all ages – family tournaments, adult tournaments.

We don’t have much to offer gamers, who have independent wealth – this is unique

Sell something below cost – take a loss to get people in the door.

He explained the value added by choosing console games. Instead of 4 playing and sharing 1 TV, everyone gets their own and you can play 8 player at a time.

Consoles are relatively inexpensive, mostly plug and play, you don’t have to worry about viruses and compatibility issues and having the latest greatest software. Kids can bring in their own consoles for you to plug into a digital projector.

Do panel discussions, collaborative storytelling, or a video contest for the MMOG players.

He talked about why he is a Nintendo Fanboy the only people who are turned off by Nintendo are the ones who think they’re too cool to use turtle shells and banana peels. Those are the Halo players, and we stick to games that are rated E and T.

Super Smash Borthers has clout – it’s one of the two games played at major league video game tournaments

Three Nintendo games have LAN mode, Super Mario Kart is the superior. It’s deep (takes a long time to master, lots of characters with diverse moves and advantages/disadvantages, making it continually rewarding to play over and over for an extended period of time), competition is steep, and it’s rated E for everyone. The only complaint that might be lodged is that it encourages aggressive driving.

Why DDR?
Most popular with girls (until the recognize that get attention if they go to Super Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers).
No matter what pads you buy, someone will complain. The Cobalt Flux ones are the best and most durable. DDR appeals to a large age range, there are open play and competition modes, and you can divide by preferred dance level.

Super Smash /Double Dash Tournament
6 month season
6 hour tournament
single player and team events allows kids to have more than one chance to compete.
sur-prize round – random game, easy to pick up (Wario Ware, Mario Party etc)
Gift card $70, $50, $30 to Best Buy, Game Spot budget donated by Friends)
Clan Party and Leaderboards – form a 4 player team throughout season, competing for their own prize – a clan cup and iPod shuffle prize. The teams only compete with themselves to get a higher score. Bonus for clans: new player recruitment

Championship Prizes:
PSP, iPod, Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance
Add a wildcard tournament for new players and use the top 8 players

Mario Madness weekend – set up for event and do as many events as possible
Fri night/ All Day Sat & Sun

Drupal powered website offers easy communication, promotion and instant community that gives their mania a focus and sustains interest. Eli showed the AXIS blog with 200 comments about the Thanksgiving weekend tournaments. Kids can use their Nintendo DS to register for tournaments.

Quick plug for, Eli’s Network Guy John Blyberg’s tech geeky blog.

Players who place 4th or high qualify to go onto the next level. Complete history of all players is logged online. A scorekeeping database is hooked into the web for live updates. Many Collectible Card Games have software or websites that allow you to collect stats.

“Oh, we don’t care if they have library cards,” said Eli in but you have a perk: you can register for the whole year and get advanced features. If we have to turn people away, card holder/tax payers will have priority.

Check In
Open Play
Build Brackets (decide who will play who – can go by order in which they sign up)
Qualifying Rounds – highest score moves on
Keep Score
Serve Food & Drink H2O for DDR
Elimination Rounds

Staff requirements: scorekeeper, MC, minimum of 2 people. Teens can call the play-by-play off the race.

Eli admitted being christened the King of All Geeks by the kids, and as an aside mentioned that getting into their hearts and minds showed career options to these kids

Televise of webcast the event (note: read end-user license agreements!)

Eli showed clips from the DVD they burned of the final 3 hour season tournament, using older gamecubes that had two outputs – one can go to a component that records (Video Toaster worth around $15000). Add music (fan remixes), interviews, etc.

Eli recommended offering open play in-between tournaments, participants will self organize and finding geeks and teens to help (share equipment, partner with schools and nonprofits), ask for sponsorships, free & low-cost promotion (cross post on sites like

Popular with parents as a slippery slope to other library services
Tournaments : video games :: storytime : picture books
Make your library a focus for their interests
Gets boys in the door
Guaranteed to produce gasps
Promotes core services to a tough audience (but don’t give them a bibliography)
It’s not all prostitutes and gunplay
They’re going to be taxpayers someday
It’s not just for teens
Provides informal feedback opportunity
Program during school breaks
Go on the road if you can

What’s Next?
Season 2 grand championship
MaddenBowl Tournament
DDR / Karaoke Revolution
Retor Octathalon
State of Gaming Panel
Mario Kart DS Anywhere League set times and get to any wireless location to play
Super Smash/Double Dash Season 3

Links Galore

From Blog Alley in the back row at Gaming Libraries and Learning:

Jenny Levine's The Shifted Librarian:

Chad Haefele's Hidden Peanuts:

Chris Deweese's Clam Chowder:

Michael Stephen's Tame the Web:

Aaron Schmidt's walking paper:

Kelli Staley's The 'Brary Web Diva:

And, check out the flickr photos!

Gaming in Libraries 2005: Tue Dec 6 Keynote: George Needham


George Needham, Vice President for Member Services at OCLC Online Computer Library Center in Dublin, OH presented “What Can Libraries Learn From Gamers?” as the keynote speaker this morning.

Opened with a nod to the OCLC Pattern recognition scan to explain how OCLC got involved with gaming. He admitted he is not an MMOG player, but plays backgammon tetris, and as of last night, DDR.

George used his own family as an example to show that we have always lived in times of constant change. In 1889 (the same year Nintendo company was born to create a trading card game). George’s grandfather Joe Duffy lived in times of financial crisis, political upheaval, the industrial revolution, breakthroughs in travel, mass communication, and entertainment, all of which lead him to a life-long love of gadgets. His life was shaped by the way he adapted to these changes – just as ours are shaped by the way WE adapt today.

George presented a quick history of video game firsts:
1958 Tennis for Two video game
1962 Space War computer game
1975 Pong arcade game
1983 Nintendo Console Gaming in Japan
1985 Nintendo Console Gaming in Japan
1989 Nintendo Game Play
1987 Air Warrior MMOG (b&w, $10/hr to play)

Libraries are traditionally about 5 years behind the curve, and we hang on to things too long. Anything we’ve added since 1965 is a new service.

Next, George showed a slide full of statistics, noting that “72% of all statistics are made up on the spot.” Instead of talking about the numbers on the slide, he mentioned a more current BBC survey – 10 slides about any given topic – latest survey 6-65, on gamers in the UK that showed 60% had played games, 48% were women, and 100% of kids between 6-10 have player, 97% of kids between 11-15 have played.

“Today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently than their predecessors.” Well, said George, this is what the founders of Sesame Street found 25 years ago.

Next he talked about digital immigrants and digital natives. One way to tell them apart is that digital natives dial their devices with their thumbs; immigrants with their forefingers, and if you don’t have a device you haven’t left the old country.

Immigrants VS Natives
Coentional speed/Twitch speed
Linear processing/Parallel processing
Linear thinking/Random access
Text/Audio pictorial
Technology uneasy partner/Technology: Friend

Next, he talked about Born with the Chip, an LJ article, and John Beck and Mitchell Wade’s Got Game. Other ways to tell natives from the immigrants: natives easily multitask! Gamer characteristics include an inherent distrust of leaders and bosses, and heroic attitudes. They want to win, they help newbies along and they compete, collaborate, and create. He cited a research study has demonstrated that gamers who become surgeons are better surgeons – their patients have shorter recovery times (the hand-eye coordination learned from games lends itself well to laproscopic surgery that involves a small camera and a television monitor.

George, like Walt yesterday, reminded us that the new format fight is one we’ve had before.
He had some great suggestions for how librarians can appeal to gamers by rethinking how we offer our services:
  • Multiple paths.
  • Multiple formats and platforms.
  • Consider the non-print user.
  • Stop being an information priests and priestesses.
  • Ask what the user can contribute.
  • Reconsider WHERE we offer services: physical layout, time open and thought process: the
  • online services are journeys and markers, not destinations.
  • Rethink privacy our users think of it very differently than our users do.
  • We need to mine our users for data to improve our services. allows content creators to set up short term licensing agreements for others to use your content for a low price (ie $.25 for 24 hour access). Allows customer based collections! Use circ info to figure out what the 80% is that doesn’t move. Put extra money into the 20% that DOES, and allow the users to suggest purchases.
  • Librarians should provide short cuts or cheats, not training.
  • Understand that risk-taking and trial-and-error are ok! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Let your users de-bug! Failure is not the end of the world. “Nobody ever died of bad cataloging.”
  • Expertise is more important than titles or credentials. An MLS lets you do almost anything, but we should bring in PR, IT, Business managers, and other experts to help us.
  • Stay informed about gaming academic programs in game studies and designing games, where students are now entering college able to tackle projects immediately without retraining.
  • Recognize multiple intelligence – gaming appeals to a learning style different from traditional text-based learning.
  • Create learning concepts around games.
  • Make mash ups for crossovers – a website that brings together all things Harry Potter for example (although, this has been done – check out
Great, how do we do it?
  • Appeal to the Board by showing how doing these things will meet the mission of the board.
  • Play an online game.
  • Stock cheat books.
  • Offer IM services and use text messaging (“this is a cultural hangup we have to get over!”). Test with staff first, and once a comfort level is established, introduce to patrons.
  • Throw a LAN party in your library, like Migell Acosta at the Santa Monica Public Library
  • Bring digital natives into your planning process, even if they don’t have an MLS.
  • Respect non-print learning.
“There are a million ways to kill a new idea,” said George, illustrating his point with a New Yorker cartoon. My friend Elizabeth Thomsen calls it pigeonshooting: sitting in a worry tank and shooting down ideas out of fear.

George concluded with a slide of his son, a digital native who doesn’t know what film, or dial telephones. He knows what it means to google Spongebob, and his generation will rock the gamer generation. The gamers are our voting futures who will choose to support or ignore libraries. He ended with several inspiring quotes from Gandhi, Dickens and lastly Jorge Luis Borges: "Nothing is built on stone/All is built on sand,/But we must build as if the sand were stone.”

“Perceptions of Libraries and Library Services” is a report now available online or in paper format for around $20.

Some great questions were asked such as what takes precedence, the library space as public space, or the web portal? George suggested we focus on the library as third place. And build great public spaces in our new buildings, and recognize that libraries are NOT the first place people go to for information. They never have been, as evidenced by a fifty-year-old report. Friends, family, newspaper, etc all come first – library ranks around number seven in a recent report and the report from fifty years ago. A real discussion developed as participants suggested linking to game sites instead of offering strategy guides, because it reinforces the box of books model and brought up the sticky issues of privacy and confidentiality and security, for example, police showing up because a patron has used IM t say they are going to commit suicide. My thought is, hey they could do that with the telephone. Or a note in a returned book. Fear and worry can’t hold you back. George reminded us that if we aren’t upsetting someone we aren’t doing our job.

An Illinois library director asked how we make the jump from Box of Books to being viable?
Even GAMERS have a perception of what a library is. How do we get beyond that? George responded that our patrons have a strong brand image of libraries and they only see books and videos. Mainly because when patrons walk in, the first thing they see is books. Build on that identity by borrowing from a business model. Bring people along slowly. Find your media, community and staff allies. Librarianship is the one profession where when you go in there is no intake or barrier before you see the professional. George recommended Joan Frye Williams as a resource who can give this talk about librarians and image.

Someone asked about data available about libraries offering equipment or services for a fee. Public Library Data Service is a report from PLA that asks about charges for services. There are different levels of service that libraries have traditionally given, such as McNaughton collections or room fees. George acknowledged that allocation is a huge issue.

One participant stepped up to the microphone just to support the diversifying of decision makers by age, ethinicity and background, both in the planning process, and the staffing, while another advocated teaching information literacy not just how to use the catalog. And when a participant asked how to start using teen volunteers, someone jumped in with a computer tech volunteer example.