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Academic Libraries And Video Games
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Academic Libraries And Video Games


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This was a presentation that I gave to a group of librarians here at SDSU. It was an opportunity to present my arguments why I believe that the library needs to seriously consider games and gaming …

This was a presentation that I gave to a group of librarians here at SDSU. It was an opportunity to present my arguments why I believe that the library needs to seriously consider games and gaming technology.

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  • 1. Libraries and Video Games Games and Gamers Creating and Collecting
  • 2. Some Interesting Facts and Figures.
    • Video games have been around for 30+ years. (Yes, they are older than some librarians.)
    • Average number of years adult gamers have been playing computer or video games: 12
    • Frequent game players in 2003: an estimated 83 million worldwide
    • Three times as many Americans (approximately 145 million) played computer and video games as went to the top 5 U.S. amusement parks.
    • With an estimated 22 billion dollar annual turnover, computer games generate more money than Hollywood. ( $7.3 billion from U.S. sales, which twice the U.S. sales in 1996)
    • Computer and video games are a recognized form of art and culture in Germany.
    • Since 1992, video games have been part of French national library’s patrimonial collections. Every video game distributed in France must send in two copies to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
    • About 43% of digital game players are female. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a greater portion of the game-playing population (28 %) than boys from ages 6 to 17 (21%).”
    • Approximately 60% of Americans play interactive games on a regular basis; and 32% of those who play computer and video games are age 35 or older with 13% age 50 or older.
  • 3. The Games
    • Games have changed quite a bit over the last 30 years.
    • Remember Pong?
  • 4. Pong’s Maturation
    • Pong and other early Tennis games, like all sports based games, have greatly evolved from simple pixilated sprites to more fully rendered and detailed environments.
    • But speaking of Pong…
  • 5. Popular Culture and History
    • Pong is an excellent example of how video games are now part of the American media’s vocabulary and popular culture.
    • Recent television advertisements reveal that they are more accepted as part of a shared context and experience.
  • 6. Games are everywhere!
    • As technology evolves and becomes more and more pervasive, so do the games we play.
    • Even technology that was not originally intended to be part of game-play, like GPS (Global Positioning Systems). Using these, once military satellites, people are playing a global game of hide and seek called geocaching.
    • Who is playing? As of 2006, there are 312,279 active caches in 222 countries . In the last 7 days (9/15/2006), there have been 203,763 new logs written by 32,913 account holders. Now that is BIG “Hide and Seek” game!
    • Some additional information:
    • and
  • 7. Games are everywhere!
    • Where are the games?
    • Businesses, some Schools
    • Newspapers (sometimes the only reason we buy a newspaper)
    • Radio (call in, in studio events)
    • Television (shows, call in programs)
    • Computer (online, offline)
    • Cell phone (online, offline)
    • Blackberrys
    • Websites (in general, different access)
    • How are games used?
    • Family time. (Board games, video, and computer too!)
    • Get together with friends (cards, LAN parties, multiplayer video games, MMORPG’s)
    • Bars and Grills, Pool Halls, State Fairs, Shopping Mall Arcades, and Student Unions (certainly, various motivations for the games placement, but all to enhance the social experience)
    • By advertising agencies to attract buyers and product interest.
    • In the military for training purposes. (Flight school)
    • Some games in Education, but mostly training designs and not very sophisticated.
    • Games, generally, are designed to mentally challenge and engage; and, sometimes, used to enhance a social experience. The top selling video games have an E or T rating and often have a multiplayer (cooperative or challenger) option.
  • 8. How many sold?
    • Strictly Gaming Units (in 2005):
    • PS2: 106 million
    • Xbox: 24 million
    • GameCube: 21 million
    • Xbox 360 : 5.05 million (as of June 30, 2006)
    • GameBoy: 70 million
    • GBA: 75 million
    • PSP : 20 million
    • DS : 22 million
    • 718 video games have sold over 1 million copies each
    • Super Mario Bros (Nintendo): 41 million copies sold
  • 9. Gamers
    • We’ve talked about games and video games; we even have an idea about video gamer demographics…
    • But, who really are these game-players?
    • Short answer… We all are.
  • 10. Gamers
    • The long answer is that “gamers” are distinct from “casual players” by their devotion to gaming as a hobby. They are fans of games. As might be expected, gamers can be generally classified:
    • Analog/Pen and Paper/Dice and Card games (more about the mechanic/strategy)
    • Board gamers (Monopoly, Settlers of Cataan, RISK, etc.)
    • Tabletop Gamers (Miniatures, some card games)
    • RPG’ers (examples: D&D, Traveler, etc.)
    • Puzzle workers (Sudoku, Crosswords, Jumbles, Mazes, and Brain Teasers)
    • Video/Computer (more about the game-play, sometimes ambiguous and contradictory)
    • Hardcore gamers (game-type, rarer games, but more about frequency)
    • Old school gamer (all about game type, pre-32 bit era)
    • Cyber-athlete (competition, thrill isn’t solely in game context, but competing within it)
    • Import gamers (all about game-type, overseas – mostly Japanese games)
    • Most folks fit into the casual gamer category; they are people who are “occasional video game players” or “beer & pretzel” game players. Additionally, most games are designed for this demographic, because it is the largest. (Target audience of the Wii – all ages)
  • 11. Why is this important?
    • Half-time Summary:
    • (RAPIDLY EVOLVING MEDIA) Games are getting more sophisticated and detailed. Will we have the archive to trace future games’ evolution?
    • (SOCIAL FABRIC) All games are designed to mentally challenge and engage, and, sometimes, enhance social experiences. Libraries represent humanity’s cultural memory, will we forget this part?
    • (MAJOR MEDIA FORMAT) The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, even dwarfing Hollywood in profits. The Academic Library is constantly looking for outside funding; now a major media product is uncollected and one strongly associated with several academic degree programs (Computer Science, Art, Creative Writing programs) isn’t there an opportunity there?
    • (COMMON) Games are pervasive and attached to or available through most of our daily activities. If this is a new media being used by all and entering into the shared content knowledge (that advertisers use) shouldn’t we collect it?
    • (BEING COLLECTED) A few European countries and some American Public Libraries collect games. The collection of these games is already beginning at National libraries and some Public libraries, doesn’t the Academic library have a role?
  • 12. Creating Games
    • Where are these games being created?
    • There are number of studios in California.
    • Blizzard – Irvine, CA
    • Sierra Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA
    • High Moon Studios – Carlsbad, CA
    • Midway Studios - San Diego, CA
    • Midway Studios - Los Angeles, CA
    • LucasArts – San Francisco, CA
    • Reverge Studios - Culver City, CA
    • Cryptic Studios - Los Gatos, CA
    • Pixologic Studios – Los Angeles, CA
    • Xbox – Newport Beach, CA
  • 13. Creating Games
    • Game creating software, tools, and opportunities are becoming more readily available and easier to use…
    • XNA Game Studio (Xbox)
    • 3d Gamemaker Software
    • Garage Games (Tribes)
    • Multiverse
  • 14. An Education in Gaming?
    • There are several institutions which offer a degree in Computer Game Design and game programming.
    • Game Culture & Tech Lab at the University of California at Irvine .
    • Southern Methodist University in Dallas has a Bachelors in Computer Science with a Game track .
    • Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio , offers an undergraduate major in "game and simulation arts" as part of its bachelor of fine arts degree program.
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University offer classes on video-game criticism, games as educational tools, and game design.
    • In AUGUST 12, 2004 SDSU offered a new course on the “ Introduction to the Game Industry ” through the college of extended studies.
  • 15. Are there Jobs?
    • Computer game designers are expected to be among the fastest growing occupations over the next decade.
    • Full time computer game designers earned an average salary of $74,900. Those with higher levels of education earn higher wages.
    • The market is expected to become very competitive. The right mix of skills; however, is difficult to find.
    • London: Game Career Fairs
    • Jobs
    • Some notable locals…
    • Blizzard (Headquartered in Irvine, CA. )
    • Sierra Entertainment (Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.)
    • High Moon Studios (Headquatered in Carlsbad, CA)
    • Midway Studios - San Diego & Los Angeles (Headquarters, Midway Games, Chicago, IL)
  • 16. Digital Games used in learning?
    • “Games are widely used as educational tools, not just for pilots, soldiers and surgeons, but also in schools and businesses.”
    • _The Economist, August 4, 2005
  • 17. Games in Learning
    • Games, in general, have been a part of learning for a long time. (scavenger hunts, in class debates, question and answer, building competitions, etc.)
    • Computer/Video games are the next step?
    • May help address issues in Cross-curricular areas and more interdisciplinary fields.
  • 18. Games in Learning
    • Examples of use:
    • Historical simulations ( Decisive Battles – History Channel)
    • Planning and architecture
    • Problem solving (instant response)
    • Economics and financial management
    • Literacy
    • Physics (gravity, vectors, acceleration)
    • Chemistry
    • Astronomy
    • Cultural studies and religion
    • Library research (as part of game mechanic)
  • 19. Collecting Games?
    • Why? They are just games after all… right?
    • Information as Object (understood as painting, sculpture, various old collectables) Objects that inform us about time and place.
    • Games build upon each other. There is an evolutionary process.
    • Part of American culture. A video game playing generation -- 30 years in the making.
    • Part of World Culture. (World of Warcraft – Blizzard Entertainment as of June 2006 had 6.6 million subscribers worldwide -- 2 million in the USA, 1 million in Europe, and the rest mostly in China and Southeast Asia. (that is 3x the popualtion of Chicago, 5x San Diego, or roughly the population of Switzerland.)
    • Technology is constantly evolving. We may not be able to view these older games.
  • 20. Fundraising opportunities
    • Regionally , in the California area, there are a number of Video and Computer Game Companies.
    • These companies are constantly looking for College graduates to work for them.
    • We are providing a service, by archiving, making available for study, and supporting the next generation of game designers.
  • 21. Thank you!
    • Questions?
  • 22. Wil Weston Engineering Librarian SDSU Library, Reference