Sunday, July 22, 2007

Scott Nicholson, Syracuse, Library Game Lab "Who Else is Playing? The Current State of Gaming in Libraries"

The Library GameLab at Syracuse is examining the entire spectrum of games. Scott Nicholson gave the grand unveiling of data from his study. We got it BEFORE the NYT! It's online at

Women age 40 play online games from 12-5am!

Library & Casino could be the end of our financial woes. One library already does bingo with books as prizes.
Right now the focus has been on Best Practices in specific settings
which are hard to generalize and develop a theory around. So, Scott and Co. set out to determine what are the basic research questions that individual libraries don't have time to answer?

Understanding the State of Gaming
400 random libraries - 382 replied

Do you support gaming
Gaming programs?
Policies about computer use for games?
What are your plans for future gaming?

Gaming Census
gaming programs in libraries in 2006 to gain a better systematic understanding of

Library Size
1-3000 112 76%
3000-10,000 121
10,000-50000 106
50,000+ 43

Scott took a conservation approach, and assumed that people who are not responding do not support gaming.

Do you support gaming in your libraries? Scott used Wits and Wagers
as a model to have us estimate the answer to the question. My guess was 83%.
There is serious math involved in figuring out the points; it's a game of statistics. "Heh heh heh," said Scott "I just got you THINKING!"

The answer? 77%. However... everybody won! North Star Games donated 300 copies of Wits & Wagers to the GLLS participations.

White Paper Resutls?

Percent of Libraries that Run Gaming Programs?
Yes 172 43%
N0 210 52%

20% circulate games highest percentage
30 circ Board
30 PC games
15% puzzle
5 console games

Can patrons play games 82%

It's more than just DDR!

Gaming programs 3473 programs

179 unique programs

Once they get a program they stick with it.

Average run of a program: 20 times

33 participants per prgoram on average
90,000 people participating in gaming programs in 2006
56,639 unique users

Were the games educational? 10%
public 6.5%
academic 9%
school 50%

Competitive: 50%
public 48%
academic 64%
school 57%

What did they play?
DDR, 50%

DDR is the most popular game. Chess is #3. Uno, Checkers and Scrabble made the list

service to active group
community role
cultural signifcance
to intro the library
pr for lib
build dev assets
new literacies

reputation of library improved
users attending gaming program and returned to the library another time for non gaming services.
Social connections were improved, including outside of their peer groups
Non participants complained about the program

Tangent Man said vendors are interested in supporting libraries doing tournaments and LAN parties.

What's next:
Go through the comments
Get funding!
Repeat random sample for school & academic libraries.
Repeat census in 2008
Create a classification system for games
Economist's study of games for the public good
Non-organizational, individual, Online portal in development: Library GameLab Nexis

Scott insists that just saying it meets mission is not enough. We need to look at it from a public good perspective.

Register for IST 600 for Gaming in Libraries, a 3 credit graduate course @ SU School # weekends in NY, rest online
Focus is to put out students who can run gaming programs.

Q. Who did you talk to, administrators or children's librarians?
A. First we said, we are not vendors! We explained the survey and let the library decide who we should talk to.

Q. Is there a disconnect between what MIT is doing to show the educational value of gaming?
A. The harder thing to do is to show that games have recreational value.

Q. Where do teen services fit in children's services?
A. We didn't branch out that far. Games in the children's section was the most common response. Need money to break it out.

Q. Did you check validity for your results?
A. Did not answer

Q. Do people say we support games, but not gaming?
A. A good next study is to figure out what people perceive as games vs. gaming.

Q. Any plan for studying intergenerational gaming?
A. There are lots of games that are good for all ages or families.

Q. Have game companies been approached?
A. Board games vendors are coming in, and vendors are very interested.


Scott said...

There's a white paper now up at
with more information

Beth Gallaway said...

Thanks Scott! Will add to main post

Beth Gallaway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.