Friday, September 29, 2006

Video Game News, Week of September 25, 2006

The Escapist, Issue 64: Hands-On Gaming

Living a Second Life
the Economist 9/28/06
"But increasing numbers use Second Life for things that are quite serious. They form support groups for cancer survivors. They rehearse responses to earthquakes and terrorist attacks. They build Buddhist retreats and meditate."

Online Games With a Difference
News 24 9/26/06
"Trion World Network Inc wants to publish and develop online games that can be changed, even on a daily basis. Its goal is to establish a platform for an online network of different games, allowing people to ask, "What's on tonight?""

Video Games Help Carry Japanese Pop Culture West
By Lou Kesten, AP 9/27/06
"For a few generations now, video games have been a Trojan horse for Japanese culture in the United States."

Gameworld: Older Women Rule ... the casual games market
By Lisa Baertlein, Reuters 9/28/06
"Middle-aged" women rule the $458 million U.S. online casual game market that features quick games that can be picked up and played for a few minutes or a few hours at a sitting."

How the Generations Demonise Video Games (audio)
SBS Radio 9/27/06
"n this look at Language and Identity, Adam Connors speaks to Anthony Hetrih and Margaret Pomeranz about how both ignorance, and even legislation, continues to demonise video gaming in Australia."

DFC: Games Industry Worth $44 bln in 2011
by Kris Graf, Next Generation 9/26/06
"A new series of reports from videogame market research firm DFC Intelligence forecasts the interactive entertainment industry to grow from $29 billion in 2005 to $44 billion in 2011."

How Video Games Became the Boogeyman Over Time
by Tom Leupold, Inside Bay Area 9/22/06
"In his research, titled "A Brief Social History of Game Play," Williams recounts that video games began as an adult pastime, with the earliest arcade machines appearing in bars and nightclubs... they were patronized by a mix of ages and ethnicities, and weren't particularly viewed as kids' entertainment."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Future of the Internet II

Check out what the new Pew Internet & American Life Project survey has to say about the Internet in 2020. Virtual worlds addictive? English displacing other languages? Transparency instead of privacy? The 742 respondents have a lot to say.

Massive Magazine

At Gen-Con I learned about a new magazine Massive focusing on MMORPGs. I must admit at first I had my hesitations about the format with all of the discussion about magazines ceasing publication. This one however was different. Unlike other gaming magazines I have seen this magazine has more focus on the positive aspects of the game, with highlights from dozens of virtual environments. The first issue answers the question of what is a MMO and what will it be in the future.

I recommend this specific issue for anyone interested in virtual environments and MMORPG gaming. It also has the potential to be a balanced addition to a libraries magazine collection.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Review: I Can Play Piano: Edutainment, or Video Game?

Fisher Price’s plug and play product “I can Play Piano” introduces children age 4-8 to the basics of reading notes and playing them on a keyboard. A color coded key electronic piano plugs directly into the RCA jacks of most tvs. Modelled after Piano Wizard software created by Allegro, “I Can Play Piano” is accompanied by a cartridge containing eight songs (ranging from childhood favorites like “Row Row Row Your Boat” to classics such as “Fur Elise.” Cartoonish static backdrops depict the song, and the shape of notes support the theme; for example, “Heart and Soul” shows a canoodling couple, and the notes are heart shaped.

Each song can be played at four levels. In the first, players match the colored shapes that scroll up from the bottom of the screen with the colored squares on the keyboard. In Level Two, the colored shapes scroll from right to left. In Level Three, the shapes become regular colored notes, and in Level Four, the colors disappear, leaving white notes for white keys and black notes for sharps and flats. Each song may be played in three modes: right hand, left hand, and both hands, and the keyboard can sound like five different instruments. The variety of play can keep a child occupied for hours, and the drive to best your score creates engagement in the sometimes tedious practice process that creates tension between parent and child.

Songs can be slowed down or speeded up. Timing is critical, because if you are off by a quarter beat, no sound emerges from the piano. Instead of allowing the player to hear and correct a missed note, only correct notes are played. There is no indication of how long each note should be played, and musical notations, such as rests, are not introduced.

The software is billed as being “Just like a video game,” because the software tracks the number of correct notes played, and displays the top score of the session and the current score. While the challenging feel, interactivity and intuitive interface are game-like, “I Can Play Piano” is simply good edutainment software for a generation of screen-addicted children. It has the added advantage of play without the TV connection, for practice or original composition, and can be battery operated.

A true video game style would not allow the player to move freely from level to level; there is no advancement reward for improved or perfect playing. Each song continues to the end, regardless of how well the player does (compared to a Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution, in which missed steps cause the player to “fail” and the song to end.

The mini-games consist of a “banger” game (accompaniment is provided, and 4 notes are recommended for an impromptu jam session) and a matching game (colored cars drive across the screen and the player presses the correspondingly colored key). There are no practices drills, listening exercises or quizzing to associate the notes with the colors.

After playing through all the songs on all the levels, I didn’t feel like I was associating the shape of the middle C note with the middle C on the keyboard; I was still reading the the letter on the note itself, or relying on memory to play the song as I knew it should sound. A fifth level, with no lettered notes, would elevate the stakes.

At present there are eight other game cartridges, five of which incorporate trademarked icons such as Dora the Explorer, Scooby Doo and Barbie. Advanced learners can go on to the Piano Wizard software. This is a solid start to musical theory.

Engaging Youth on their Own Terms: Instant Messaging and Gaming in Libraries

Date : Tuesday, Oct 10, 2006
Start Time : 8 a.m. Pacific
Length : 01:00:00

"Attempting to mold young library users into miniature librarians is an unfair and often futile goal. To meet their needs and ensure our institutions are supported in the future, we must listen to them! Join Aaron Schmidt and Sarah Houghton as they discuss ways to serve teens on their own turf, by creating a teen-friendly environment in your physical library and in your library's eBranch, and by providing the resources and services teens want, when and where they want them. Other topics discusses will be MySpace, iPods, and weblogs."

Why Support Games

Sports can be considered a waste of money and time. Players are paid more than citizens who teach future generations are. Individuals will spend hundreds of dollars for to watch players, collect items related to the game, and even building places for the players to play. Sports have negative effects at times of allowing players to ignore learning relying on physical ability to make it through life. Yet we as a society accept Sports as a recreational activity where families can bond, children can gain values as a member of a team, and individuals can support the economy. Why do we find it difficult to accept that this would apply to other types of games?

Remember that games are just one of dozens of choices for recreational activities. Just as valuable as knitting, golfing, movie watching and more.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Barcelona Hosts XBox 06 next week

By Tim Surette, GameSpot, 6/22/06
"The X0 events, almost always held in Europe, have been used as an opportunity for Microsoft to make the latest announcements regarding the Xbox line of products, business dealings, and upcoming games."

Tokyo Game Show this weekend!

Tokyo Game Show opened today. "Exhibitions include video games, computer games, digital entertainment products, mobile games, game machines, game soft for kids, online games, Japanese anime character games, game schools, CD/DVD, and more."

PS3 price drop-in Japan

by Stephen Totilo, MTV News, 9/22/06
"Sony used the 2006 Tokyo Game Show as a showcase for its looming PS3."

Edutainment 2007 Call For Papers Announced

Edutainment 2007 Call For Papers Announced
Serious Games Source 9/11/06
Edutainment 2007, the 2nd International Conference of E-Learning and Games calls for papers for the June 11-13, 2007 conference to be held at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Video Game News, Week of September 18, 2006

Apple Updates Video iPod - Games, Movies, and More
by Adam Pash, About/Electronics & Gadgets/Digital Music 9/20/06
"Aside from the games that ship with the iPod (like Solitaire, Parachutes, etc.), you can now buy new interactive games... "

EA Preps In-Flight Video Games
by Wolfgang Gruener, TG Daily 9/21/06
"Electronic Arts, together with in-flight entertainment company DTI Software, today announced a plan to provide multiple airline companies with in-flight versions of their software, largely headlined by The Sims 2."

Lawmaker Seeks to Restrict Youth Access to Violent Video Games
By Brock Vergakis, AP 9/18/06
"On Wednesday, Rep. David Hogue will revive a bill that seeks to prevent minors from accessing violent video games."

BLOG: Definitive Interactive History of Video Games Comes to London's Science Museum
Gameplanet 9/18/06
"London's Science Museum is to play host to a new and updated run of Game On, the comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the history of video games and videogaming culture."

Where to Sell Your Used CDs, DVDs, Games & Electronics Online
Associated Content, the People's Media Company 9/17/06
"Do you have used CDs, DVDs, games & electronics? Here are some websites where you can sell them online."

MTV To Acquire Guitar Hero Maker Harmonix
David Jenkins, Gamasutra, 9/22/06
"In a surprise announcement, cable television channel MTV has announced it is to acquire developer Harmonix Music Systems in a deal worth $175 million..."

Nintendo Of America Courts Mature Content
by David Jenkins, Gamasutra, 9/21/06
"Although the GameCube did play host to some mature content rated games, including the Nintendo published Eternal Darkness and Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 and killer7, Nintendo were still unable to shake the image of a console dominated by child friendly titles and lacking in third party support."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Runescape night at Hutchinson (Kansas) Public Library)

"On August 7, 2006, Kristine Tossie and 5 teen coordinators hosted a
Runescape night in the computer lab of the Hutchinson (Kansas) Public
Library. They had six events. Some events were for Runescape members.
Some events were for non-members. Some events were for both.

One 13-year-old boy claimed that this might have been the greatest
night of his life."
Thanks Chris!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Manager of Virtual World Avatar

Fleishman-Hillard Youth has an immediate opening for someone to oversee an avatar on behalf of one of their clients. If you or someone you know has strong experience in virtual worlds and RPGs, and is interested in youth marketing, they want to hear from you.


- Manage an avatar in a virtual world on behalf of a corporate client
- Interact with players, answering various questions and disseminating information
- Sending email blasts to members
- Staying in continual contact with the Fleishman-Hillard team, providing updates and status reports


- Excellent experience using RPGs and virtual worlds
- Ability to effectively handle in-game requests with the interests of the client in mind
- Responsible and easy to reach
- Strong communication skills
- Work schedule: 7 pm รข€“ 11 pm EST/EDT, Mon-Fri
- 3 month contract starting ASAP
- Can work remotely

Please contact Vanessa Lane by email ( or phone (212-453-2390)

Monday, September 18, 2006

MTV Launches Virtual Laguna Beach

Not in the Real World Anymore

by Richard Siklos, New York Times 9/18/06
'Upstaged by MySpace, MTV will introduce Virtual Laguna Beach, where fans can immerse themselves in virtual versions of the show’s hangouts."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Nintendo Wii-November 19

09/14/06, Houston Chronicle by Peter Svensson
"Nintendo Co. announced Thursday that its Wii game console will go on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 19 for $250. . ."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Games and Libraries

Silversprite blogs a powerpoint presentation by John Kirriemuir on Games and Libraries. Slides were used in a presentation at the Digital Library 2006 school in Tilburg. An overview of games, and gamers, attributes of a gamer, and what libraries are doing with games, including those outside of the United States are part of the presentation.

Is WOW just a game-or something more?

By Steven Levy, Newsweek, September 18 2006 issue
"What distinguishes Warcraft from previous blockbuster games is its immersive nature and compelling social dynamics."

Christian Video Game-Left Behind series

by Sandy Shore, USA Today, 9/10/06
"Left Behind: Eternal Forces is based on the best-selling Left Behind book series about the apocalypse. But it's the apocalypse without dismemberment or graphic bloodshed, though the game has an element of violence that some Christians argue is counter to teachings of the Bible."

Monday, September 11, 2006

National Games Week

Each year Games Quarterly sponsors National Games Week November 19th-25th. Companies related to tabletop gaming provide sponsorship, and participants can purchase discounted game packages from the various sponsors.

Games Quarterly is a Magazine dedicated to the educational value of table top games, and through the celebration of National Games Week, promotes the use of games in classrooms.

I encourage every library interested in gaming having a game day during this special week. Try hosting a CCG tournament, having a family gaming night, or simply setting out a board game for the after school teens.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Video Game News, September 10, 2006

Check out Entropia-a virtual world where teens can participate in the economy and even make real money.

The August/September 2006 Bulletin of the American Society for Information Sciences and Technology has an article by Andrew Hinton on pages 17-21: "We Live Here: Games, Third Places and the Information Architecture of the Future.".

Information Service Manager, Martin House, from the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, received a grant from the State Library for gaming programs for adults. Alienware laptops will be part of the fun.

Innovate Live Webcast September 12, 2006, 12:00pm, ET, "Proposal for Accelerating the Implementation and Development of Video Games in Education"
by Greg Jones and Kevin Kalinowski

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Video Game News, Week of September 4, 2006

The Escapist Issue #61: Sixteen Ton - Whaddaya Get? now available.

"We Live Here: Games, Third Places and the Information Architecture of the Future.
by Andrew Hinton, Bulletin of the American Society for Information Sciences and Technology August/September 2006

"Grand Theft Education"
Jane Avrich, Steven Johnson, Raph Koster, Thomas de Zengotita, and Bill Wasik, Harpers September 2006

Some Games May Enhance Sociability.
Technology: Your Digital World, CNN. 9/6/06
"Video games involving multiple players serve as informal gathering places akin to old-time pubs and coffee shops, and can thereby boost the players' social connections, researchers argue in a new study."

Sector Wrap: Video Games
by Barbara Ortutay, AP Business Week Online 9/8/06
"Sony Corp. plans to ship two million of its long-awaited next-generation gaming console, PlayStation 3, to stores worldwide by Dec. 31."

Podcast: Not Satisfied with Video Games on the Market? Design Your Own
Voice of America News 9/7/06
"Microsoft is offering a computer program for making video games. The XNA Game Studio Express tools are free for download on computers with Windows XP systems to create games."

Islamogaming: Looking for Video Games in the Muslim World
by Ed Halter, ExtremeTech 9/9/06
"In summer 2006, an Iranian political group called the Union of Islamic Student Societies revealed that it was planning on entering the video-game business."

Are Some Video Games Gambling? Teen Makes $35,000 in Video Game, Now the Taxman Cometh
by Jonathan Silverstein, ABC news 9/8/06
"Whoever said "you won't get rich playing video games," never played Entropia Universe — an online computer game where players adventure, build, buy and sell everything from real estate and services to weapons and armor for real dollars."

Campaigner Pins Latest Shooting on Video Games
OUT-LAW News, 08/09/2006
"Games campaigner Jack Thompson believes that last week's school shooting in North Carolina was caused by the teenager involved playing violent video games. Thompson is the lawyer behind a suit against Take Two games over its upcoming title Bully."

Academic to Study Effects of Violent Video Games
The New Zealand Herald 9/10/006
"Waikato academic Gareth Schott has been given a $140,000 grant to run two video game clubs for teenagers so that he can observe their behaviour in a natural environment."

ESPN Video Games Channel Launches On ESPN.COM

Game Infowire 9/7/06
"Developed in collaboration with Ziff Davis Game Group, the co-branded section delivers sports video game-focused content including sports video game news and reviews, trailers, audio and video podcasts, industry analysis, interviews and more."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Games and Education Research Resource!

Silversprite Research and Consultancy, whose focus is digital games and libraries, has a FABULOUS blog dedicated to examples of off the shelf games used for educational purposes. Check it out at!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sensor Glove: The New Video Game Controller?

08/21/06, University of Illinois
"Video game controllers have evolved from five-button square boxes to complex conglomerations of joysticks and direction pads, and soon the next level of controller may be on the market: a glove with sensors attached to it so you can reach into the action of the game."

Some Online Video Games to Promote Socialibility

8/16/06, University of Illinois
"Researchers have found that some of the large and hugely popular online video games – although condemned by many as time-gobbling, people-isolating monsters – actually have socially redeeming qualities."

BN Gamefest

This site really looks snazzy from the Bloomington Public Library in Illinois. Young Adult Librarian, John Fischer, and Web Services guru, Chad Brekke, know how to put it together. If I've forgotten anyone, let me know. The community involvement and outreach, circulating video games, excitement, online communication, etc. is great. Cheering for my alma mater of libraries! You lead 'em Illinois!

Video Game News, Week of August 28, 2006

Are you a MMO/MMORPG player? Take this survey at the Daedelus Project! A new issue of The Daedalus Project is now available at

The Escapist issue # 60: Editor's Choice is now available at

Teaching Video Games Book to Debut in US
by Beth A. Dillon, Gamasutra 8/30/06
"The book provides an introduction to teaching with videogames, offering practical advice on classroom approaches and clear reference to critical and theoretical writing."

Researchers Test Effectiveness of Online Video Games in School History Lessons
MSN 9/1/06
"Technical college students may no longer be scolded for playing video games in class, but actually be encouraged to do so, as researches test the effectiveness of game-based history lessons."

Art of the Game
by Alexa Moses and Elicia Murray, Sydney Morning Herald 9/2/06
"It may sound innocuous, but Kelman's assertion that the storylines, complex characters, sound, music and breathtaking visuals in games make them valid artworks is controversial, even among gamers."

Real World Governor Speaks in Second Life
Joystiq, 9/1/06
"Former Virginia Governor and potential 2008 presidential candidate Mark Warner became the first politician to make a public appearance in an MMO yesterday, speaking to a small crowd of avatars in Second Life on issues ranging from the Iraq war to abortion."

PRESS RELEASE: Stroke Therapy Uses Video Games
United Press International 8/30/06
"Virtual rehabilitation gives therapists new tools to do their jobs more effectively and engages patients who may otherwise lack interest or motivation to complete normal exercise regimens."

Video Games Giving Players Directorial Try
Washington Times, 8/28/06
"What has become known as machinima, the use of such games for creating movie re-enactments or videos, has grown in such bounds it has been featured in both commercials and videos and spawned an official Machinima Academy of Arts and Sciences."

Back to School Means Video Games Take Back Seat to Homework
by Leslie Brody, The Record 8/30/06
"Come September, many parents vow to pull the plug on kids who have been pounding away on video games through the hazy days of vacation

Violent Games Ban Overturned by Yet Another US State Court. 8/31/06
"A judge in the US has said that violent video games represent free speech and their sale to minors must not be banned. "Depictions of violence are entitled to full constitutional protection," said Judge James Brady."

Star Quality in Video Games
by Christian Toto, The Washington Times, 8/25/06
"It isn't just out-of-work actors and former A-listers lending their voices to video games today."