Thursday, December 08, 2005

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.

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