Playing catch-up
games and play in the wider culture
and in the library
Intro stuff
• Acknowledgment of traditional owners
• Please turn phones to silent
• Thanks to:
• organisers,
• ALIA,
• my ...
About this workshop
About this workshop
About this workshop
About this workshop
About this workshop
(But in a good way)
Why leave the comfort zone?
• Comfy = what we know (i.e., what we already know)
Why leave the comfort zone?
• Comfy = what we already know
• Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding
Why leave the comfort zone?
• Comfy = what we already know
• Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding
• Challen...
Why leave the comfort zone?
• Comfy = what we already know
• Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding
• Challen...
Why leave the comfort zone?
• Comfy = what we already know
• Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding
• Challen...
What are we covering today?
• A general understanding of the current state of the art of
games and play in the wider cultu...
What are we covering today?
• A general understanding of the current state of the art of
games and play in the wider cultu...
What are we covering today?
• A general understanding of the current state of the art of
games and play in the wider cultu...
What are we covering today?
• A general understanding of the current state of the art of
games and play in the wider cultu...
What are we covering today?
• A general understanding of the current state of the art of
games and play in the wider cultu...
What’s the agenda?
• Set the ground rules
• Meet each other
• Learn a little about why this
matters
• Explore play
• Explo...
LOTS to cover!
So we’ll be going fast.
If you need me to stop and clarify, please ask.
And we’ll be playing.
Trust me, we’ll also be learning.
(Yes, I plan for that to include me.)
Permission to play
• Play nice, play safe, play fair.
• NOT “play perfectly”! It’s OK to make “mistakes”.
• It’s OK to not...
Getting to know you
• Let’s all shake on that deal.
Getting to know you
• Let’s all shake on that deal.
• All at once.
Getting to know you
• Let’s all shake on that deal.
• All at once.
• Actually, while we’re doing it, let’s
THUMB-WRESTLE.
Getting to know you
• You now know something new about the people around
you – and mightn’t have learned it another way.
•...
About me
• Shy (yes, really)
• Geeky (surprise!)
• Total bookworm (got my glasses before a computer)
• I’ve worked in huma...
The original Project Gutenberg
(seen at the New York Public Library)
A board game of robots
made from a toy
run by a computer
(seen at a geek convention, Gen Con)
My bub!
(who loves to play)
Why do we play?
• Learning (show beats tell, but play with beats look at!)
• Babies play to learn everything – their sense...
(Not kidding! Look up
“Sugata Mitra” &
“Hole in the wall”!)
Why do we play?
• Learning
• Experimentation (learning)
• Practice/rehearsal (learning)
• Interaction (learning & health)
...
Why do we play?
• Learning
• Experimentation (learning)
• Practice/rehearsal (learning)
• Interaction (learning & health)
...
How much do we play?
 Billions of hours every week. (Yes, week.)
That’s just what registers economically.
 We spend over...
How much do libraries play?
How much do libraries play?
 Well, not quite nothing. But we don’t do a
lot. And certainly not proportionate to public
de...
Does it matter?
 Depends on what you see a library’s
mission as being.
 If it’s just books on shelves, then no.
[Sidetrack:]
My understanding of “library”
 Literally: “A place of books”.
 So is a publisher’s warehouse a library?
Wha...
The archetypal library:
The Library of Alexandria
 NOT book-based (as
we understand it –
scrolls, not codices)
 NOT a sy...
A library is:
Human thought, made accessible.
Shared information, ideas, beauty,
creative works
Self-directed, self-pac...
Does it matter?
 Definitionally, yes.
Does it matter?
 Definitionally, yes.
 To games and play and the people who
love them, which is quite a large chunk
of t...
Does it matter?
 Definitionally, yes.
 To games and play and the people who
love them, which is quite a large chunk
of t...
Does it matter?
Games have a rightful place in the library, among
the resources and the actions that constitute [the
libra...
TIME FOR GOSSIP
A quick sample of the hidden depths of play
Pass the Secret along
◦ While we’re doing that, we’ll talk a little about what
play is
◦ Whisper – you don’t want to give ...
What is play?
Let’s pick apart the word to try to get at the
core of the concept.
What are the various uses and meanings o...
What is play?
Lots of ways to play! You can…
• Play (a sport, a role, a game, a musical instrument…)
• Play with (a toy… o...
What is play?
• Personal and expressive – you engage, you
play, according to your nature
• Often also interpersonal/shared...
What else is play?
• “Training for the unexpected”
• Somehow both unreal and transformative…?
• Community-building
• Medic...
(What is FUN?)
• Delight?
• Engagement?
• Inspiration?
• The active face of a coin called joy whose
passive face is beauty?
What else is play?
What else is play?
Underestimated.
Play and the Magic Circle
• Johan Huizinga – wait, who?
Play and the Magic Circle
• Johan Huizinga argued that play is a necessary
(but not sufficient) precondition for culture.
...
So play is…
A quasi-magical space,
which creates shared experiences and common
ground,
with strong ties to intelligence, s...
So play is…
A quasi-magical space,
which creates shared experiences and common
ground,
with strong ties to intelligence, s...
Sound familiar?
A quasi-magical space,
which creates shared experiences and common
ground,
with strong ties to intelligenc...
BACK TO GOSSIP
A minor sample of the hidden depths of play
WHAT WAS THE FINAL SECRET?
WHAT IS THIS GAME ABOUT?
WHAT IS THIS GAME ABOUT?
WHAT DOES THIS GAME TEACH?
WHAT DOES THIS GAME TEACH?
• The unreliability of communication & the
importance of quality control
• The power (and pleas...
AND THIS IS JUST GOSSIP.
• So simple it barely counts as a game!
• Only two points of participation
• No real decisions
• ...
WHAT ARE GAMES?
(A DEFINITION THAT BEAT THE BEST EFFORTS OF ONE OF
THE 20TH CENTURY’S GREATEST MINDS)
NOT ALL THE SAME!
IN FACT, ONE OF THE MOST INHERENTLY
VARIED MEDIA IMAGINABLE
WORKING OUT WHAT GAMES ARE
• List examples
• Look for common threads
WORKING OUT WHAT GAMES ARE
• Classics
• Modern classics
• Co-operative games
• Deception games
• Realtime games
• Bluffing...
POINTS OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAMES
• Electronic/non-electronic/non-mediated
• Story, simulation, competition
(Gamist/Narra...
A FEW ELEMENTS IN GAMES’ POETIC TOOLBOX
• Decisions
• Consequences
• Rules
• Tests of skill
• Random inputs
• Human improv...
A FEW KEY REASONS GAMES MATTER
• Billions of person-hours every week
• Billions of dollars annually – overtaking Hollywood...
A FEW KEY REASONS GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES
• They are a published form of culture you have to share to
experience.
We are...
ONE KEY REASON GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES
• They are about play.
ONE KEY REASON GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES
• They are about learning.
ONE KEY REASON GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES
• They are about learning, and the joy thereof.
WE SHOULD BE UP TO THAT BREAK,
BUT…
THE SINGLE GREATEST OBSTACLE
If libraries are a kind of playspace anyway
and games and play are inherent parts of culture
...
IT’S TOO BIG TO SEE
We play in infancy, before we can even talk…
which makes play ubiquitous.
(also childish, easy, trivia...
IT’S TOO BIG TO SEE
“If it really mattered it would already be fixed”
“If everyone plays why do they need the
library’s he...
IT’S TOO BIG TO SEE
Which is to say:
“It can’t be true, because if it was, it would
mean doing things we don’t do now”
BUT…
It is true, and because it is, it means huge
new opportunities for us and the public.
BUT…
It is true, and because it is, it means HUGE
new opportunities for us and the public.
BUT…
It is true, and because it is, it means
new opportunities for us and the public
BUT…
It is true, and because it is, it means
new opportunities for us and the public
BREAK!
(Bebackin10)
What’s the agenda?
• Set the ground rules
• Meet each other
• Learn a little about why this
matters
• Explore play
• Explo...
What’s the agenda?
• Set the ground rules
• Meet each other
• Learn a little about why this
matters
• Explore play
• Explo...
Possibilities
Many and varied, but here are some broad/key points:
• Playing up the “third place”/”new village square” the...
Possibilities
Many and varied, but here are some broad/key points:
• Playing up the “third place”/“new village square” the...
OBSTACLES
These largely arise from that big blind spot,
but let’s spell them out.
OBSTACLES
Staff resistance
Management conservatism
Systemic indifference
Play vs. reading: mode shift
Lack of public expec...
STAFF RESISTANCE
•Make the case to peers, not just management
•Try to offer positive experiences
•Talk up library staff’s ...
MANAGEMENT CONSERVATISM
•Accept that constraints are a reality, but don’t
let them off the hook – leadership is their job
...
SYSTEMIC INDIFFERENCE
•Mutually reinforces management conservatism
•Critique metrics, budgets that exclude play
•Point out...
PLAY VS. READING: MODE SHIFT
•Reading: (often) individual, reflective…
INTROVERTED
•Playing: (often) social, active… “EXTR...
LACK OF PUBLIC EXPECTATION
•Public don’t associate libraries & play – so plug!
•People have established private play space...
OPPORTUNITIES
Games clubs
Library Leagues
Outreach to geeks,
esp. adolescent males
Tech access
International Leadership
(f...
GAMES CLUBS
•Like book clubs, but as well as meeting to
discuss the work, you meet to play it
•(Maybe like Shakespeare clu...
LIBRARY LEAGUES
•Like local sporting leagues but for games
– lower physical barrier to participation
•Competition optional...
OUTREACH TO GEEKS/YOUNG MEN
•Geeks already feel safe in libraries
•Games extremely popular among young men,
especially iso...
TECH ACCESS
•Games tech is hugely influential, not limited
to games uses (as above)
•Access to understand how it works, an...
INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP
•Games/play clearly going to happen
•Major catching up to do
•Lots of interesting experiments hap...
INTERNATIONAL GAMES DAY
•Sat November 21, 2015 (3rd Saturday in Nov)
•http://igd.ala.org/about
•Donations of games
•Intern...
LIBRARY SKILLS/INFO LITERACY
•A game for IGD@yl?
•Games as training activities
•AADL Summer Game
•UTS Zombie game
GAMES AS EDUCATIONAL MEDIA
•“Play with” beats “look at”
•Simulations
•More and more common
PROMOTING SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
•Games create a common ground and shared
space that obscures age, gender, ethnicity,
backgrou...
SYSTEMS LITERACY
•As important as traditional literacy
(also highly complementary to it;
also, games drive traditional lit...
THEORY OF MIND
•The ability to think about what others are
thinking; precursor to empathy
•Vital life skill
•Key benefit o...
BETTER CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING
•A blind spot that big has to have
implications for accurate understanding of
culture as a w...
Curation & criticism
 No time here to talk about
collection management, except:
 Lending is possible (being done)
 In-h...
Curation & criticism
 As with books, movies, music,
knowing the field is important
 “Players’ advisory” is just as
worth...
Curation & criticism
 Criticism can use all the technical
details mentioned earlier
POINTS OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAMES
• Electronic/non-electronic/non-mediated
• Story, simulation, competition
(Gamist/Narra...
Curation & criticism
 Criticism can use all the technical
details mentioned earlier
 But as with any creative work, it’s...
Curation & criticism
 Time for an example – a quick
game club session!
 Card game called Hanabi
Hanabi
 Play the next highest number (1-5)
in each of 5 colours
Hanabi
 Play the next highest number (1-5)
in each of 5 colours
 Get each colour’s pile as high as
you can
 Co-operativ...
Hanabi
 You can’t see your hand of cards
 YES. You hold your cards with the
BACK FACING YOU
 You can’t talk about what ...
 Play a card from your hand – if it’s
wrong, lose an explosion token; or
 Discard a card to gain a clock token; or
 Spe...
Hanabi
What do you want to talk about?
Hanabi
Technique
Memory
Deduction/logic/negative information
Hinting/Implicit communication
Hidden information
Teamw...
Making the
case
Not easy
Institutional inertia is hard
enough to overcome
Institutional inertia backed by
cultural inertia is EVEN HARDE...
A challenge ≠ an excuse
Libraries are always anxious about
funding (we’re driven)
We can’t afford to miss this boat
We ...
Use the evidence
We’ve only started looking,
but it’s there and plentiful
Start with the Journal of Play
Work on multiple levels
When talking culture
generally
Within the library/council
At state and federal level
Use (& support) your allies
There are more of us than might
be apparent
australianplayalliance.org
Make use of me!
pm@p...
Use (& support) your allies
How I can help:
Strategic planning & consulting
Staff training
Public presentations & event...
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library
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Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library

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Play and games are set to be the media of the 21st Century in the same way audiovisual media were of the 20th. But libraries have largely ignored the tremendous importance (and potential) of these new media, making little to no effort to include them in collections except as they do so easily, and even ignoring games that come in book form. There has been little effort to curate games and play, cultivate deeper and broader critical appreciation in the public, or even apply accurate taxonomies. (And if you know librarians, that really says something about the size of the blind spot!)

This presentation, delivered at the Australian Library & Information Association's 7th New Librarians' Symposium (ALIA's NLS7), outlines the foundational reasons why games and play actually matter a lot more than our culture likes to think, and especially to libraries; it also offers some pointers for making this case to existing library institutions, and how to negotiate a system that is almost completely blind to the value of play.

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Playing catch-up: games and play in the wider culture and in the library

  1. 1. Playing catch-up games and play in the wider culture and in the library
  2. 2. Intro stuff • Acknowledgment of traditional owners • Please turn phones to silent • Thanks to: • organisers, • ALIA, • my partner, • you!
  3. 3. About this workshop
  4. 4. About this workshop
  5. 5. About this workshop
  6. 6. About this workshop
  7. 7. About this workshop (But in a good way)
  8. 8. Why leave the comfort zone? • Comfy = what we know (i.e., what we already know)
  9. 9. Why leave the comfort zone? • Comfy = what we already know • Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding
  10. 10. Why leave the comfort zone? • Comfy = what we already know • Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding • Challenge is key to “flow”
  11. 11. Why leave the comfort zone? • Comfy = what we already know • Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding • Challenge is key to “flow” • Flow is the pleasure that drives learning, and also – not coincidentally – play: the process of simultaneously exercising and developing mastery
  12. 12. Why leave the comfort zone? • Comfy = what we already know • Challenge is key to learning: Vygotsky, scaffolding • Challenge is key to “flow” • Flow is the pleasure that drives learning, and also – not coincidentally – play • So I’m not aiming for comfy, I’m aiming for interesting and fun
  13. 13. What are we covering today? • A general understanding of the current state of the art of games and play in the wider cultural context
  14. 14. What are we covering today? • A general understanding of the current state of the art of games and play in the wider cultural context • Basic understanding of the possibilities for games and play in the library (obstacles and opportunities)
  15. 15. What are we covering today? • A general understanding of the current state of the art of games and play in the wider cultural context • Basic understanding of the possibilities for games and play in the library (obstacles and opportunities) • Introduction to curation and critical discussion of games
  16. 16. What are we covering today? • A general understanding of the current state of the art of games and play in the wider cultural context • Basic understanding of the possibilities for games and play in the library (obstacles and opportunities) • Introduction to curation and critical discussion of games • Improved ability to integrate games and play into business cases for libraries
  17. 17. What are we covering today? • A general understanding of the current state of the art of games and play in the wider cultural context • Basic understanding of the possibilities for games and play in the library (obstacles and opportunities) • Introduction to curation and critical discussion of games • Improved ability to integrate games and play into business cases for libraries • Awareness of which of your fellow participants is a Werewolf
  18. 18. What’s the agenda? • Set the ground rules • Meet each other • Learn a little about why this matters • Explore play • Explore games • BREAK! • Possibilities for games and play in libraries • Obstacles • Opportunities • Criticism & curation • Making the case • Find out who’s a WEREWOLF!
  19. 19. LOTS to cover! So we’ll be going fast. If you need me to stop and clarify, please ask.
  20. 20. And we’ll be playing. Trust me, we’ll also be learning. (Yes, I plan for that to include me.)
  21. 21. Permission to play • Play nice, play safe, play fair. • NOT “play perfectly”! It’s OK to make “mistakes”. • It’s OK to not play, or leave play, if needed. • You are encouraged to try things and ask questions. • We will all support you – we’re all here to learn too. • The social contract of play (part of its appeal!): We’re here to have fun, with other people also having fun. • We play nice, we play safe, we play fair.
  22. 22. Getting to know you • Let’s all shake on that deal.
  23. 23. Getting to know you • Let’s all shake on that deal. • All at once.
  24. 24. Getting to know you • Let’s all shake on that deal. • All at once. • Actually, while we’re doing it, let’s THUMB-WRESTLE.
  25. 25. Getting to know you • You now know something new about the people around you – and mightn’t have learned it another way. • Let’s quickly run around the room and introduce ourselves. • Just say your name and a single sentence about your relationship to games and/or play, or what you hope to learn today. • It’s fine to use this to tell me if you have reservations about games and/or play, in general or in libraries.
  26. 26. About me • Shy (yes, really) • Geeky (surprise!) • Total bookworm (got my glasses before a computer) • I’ve worked in human rights, publishing, theatre, film, games, libraries, IT • Fascinated by the creative and community-building potential of games & play • Three things that sum me up
  27. 27. The original Project Gutenberg (seen at the New York Public Library)
  28. 28. A board game of robots made from a toy run by a computer (seen at a geek convention, Gen Con)
  29. 29. My bub! (who loves to play)
  30. 30. Why do we play? • Learning (show beats tell, but play with beats look at!) • Babies play to learn everything – their senses, their bodies, their brains, the outside world, language: the most playful time of our lives is the time we are the smartest (though most ignorant and unskilled) • This lasts throughout life – uneducated kids in Indian slums left free to play can teach themselves how to use computers and navigate the internet (in English!). Adults who play learn faster, improve skills, and resist conditions like Alzheimer’s longer.
  31. 31. (Not kidding! Look up “Sugata Mitra” & “Hole in the wall”!)
  32. 32. Why do we play? • Learning • Experimentation (learning) • Practice/rehearsal (learning) • Interaction (learning & health) • Fun Pleasure Fun (health)
  33. 33. Why do we play? • Learning • Experimentation (learning) • Practice/rehearsal (learning) • Interaction (learning & health) • Fun Pleasure Fun (health) …because it’s good for us.
  34. 34. How much do we play?  Billions of hours every week. (Yes, week.) That’s just what registers economically.  We spend over US$100bn/year on playful media.  Videogames still growing in popularity, toys steady, but tabletop games growing even faster: local retailers report around 25% growth year-on-year for the last 5 years straight.
  35. 35. How much do libraries play?
  36. 36. How much do libraries play?  Well, not quite nothing. But we don’t do a lot. And certainly not proportionate to public demand.  Many libraries have no collections of play media.  Maybe a console or two in-house.  Maybe console games (easy to lend).  Maybe some games on a shelf, unmonitored.  Games events?
  37. 37. Does it matter?  Depends on what you see a library’s mission as being.  If it’s just books on shelves, then no.
  38. 38. [Sidetrack:] My understanding of “library”  Literally: “A place of books”.  So is a publisher’s warehouse a library? What about the vault a collector keeps their first editions locked away in?  Obviously libraries are more important than just storage.
  39. 39. The archetypal library: The Library of Alexandria  NOT book-based (as we understand it – scrolls, not codices)  NOT a symbol of epic warehousing/ cataloguing technique – those are only means to an end.  NOT just about text: zoo, gardens, lecture rooms, meeting rooms…
  40. 40. A library is: Human thought, made accessible. Shared information, ideas, beauty, creative works Self-directed, self-paced, opt-in community of learning & culture  (Also: The institution that makes a culture a civilization; the social contract made manifest…) END OF SIDETRACK
  41. 41. Does it matter?  Definitionally, yes.
  42. 42. Does it matter?  Definitionally, yes.  To games and play and the people who love them, which is quite a large chunk of the public, yes.
  43. 43. Does it matter?  Definitionally, yes.  To games and play and the people who love them, which is quite a large chunk of the public, yes.  To libraries, yes, very much.
  44. 44. Does it matter? Games have a rightful place in the library, among the resources and the actions that constitute [the library], in line with the establishment’s project, in engagement with its territory and the practices of its publics. Games thus become an element of the library’s identity, identity the library must preserve in all its complexity and richness. - Jeu et bibliothèque: pour une conjugaison fertile, French Inspectorate-General of Libraries, 2015
  45. 45. TIME FOR GOSSIP A quick sample of the hidden depths of play
  46. 46. Pass the Secret along ◦ While we’re doing that, we’ll talk a little about what play is ◦ Whisper – you don’t want to give the next person a hint! ◦ Last person, maybe write the Secret down in case you forget! ◦ FYI I run a game of this each year that travels right around the world!
  47. 47. What is play? Let’s pick apart the word to try to get at the core of the concept. What are the various uses and meanings of “play”?
  48. 48. What is play? Lots of ways to play! You can… • Play (a sport, a role, a game, a musical instrument…) • Play with (a toy… or anything really) • Play on (words, feelings) • Play at something • Play over something (if you’re a liquid, or light, etc) • Play something up or down • Play something out or play something back
  49. 49. What is play? • Personal and expressive – you engage, you play, according to your nature • Often also interpersonal/shared – we play • Free (minimal restraints, other than voluntary) • Flow-based • Active and interactive, generative and creative • Self-confidence-boosting
  50. 50. What else is play? • “Training for the unexpected” • Somehow both unreal and transformative…? • Community-building • Medicinal • And… not unrelatedly… FUN
  51. 51. (What is FUN?) • Delight? • Engagement? • Inspiration? • The active face of a coin called joy whose passive face is beauty?
  52. 52. What else is play?
  53. 53. What else is play? Underestimated.
  54. 54. Play and the Magic Circle • Johan Huizinga – wait, who?
  55. 55. Play and the Magic Circle • Johan Huizinga argued that play is a necessary (but not sufficient) precondition for culture. No culture without play. • Spoke of the “magic circle” that play creates – a special context where different rules apply, and some ordinary rules don’t. (see also courts, parliaments, etc…)
  56. 56. So play is… A quasi-magical space, which creates shared experiences and common ground, with strong ties to intelligence, self-directed learning, and creativity, and essential to culture.
  57. 57. So play is… A quasi-magical space, which creates shared experiences and common ground, with strong ties to intelligence, self-directed learning, and creativity, and essential to culture. (And often underestimated)
  58. 58. Sound familiar? A quasi-magical space, which creates shared experiences and common ground, with strong ties to intelligence, self-directed learning, and creativity, and essential to culture. (And often underestimated)
  59. 59. BACK TO GOSSIP A minor sample of the hidden depths of play
  60. 60. WHAT WAS THE FINAL SECRET?
  61. 61. WHAT IS THIS GAME ABOUT?
  62. 62. WHAT IS THIS GAME ABOUT?
  63. 63. WHAT DOES THIS GAME TEACH?
  64. 64. WHAT DOES THIS GAME TEACH? • The unreliability of communication & the importance of quality control • The power (and pleasure) of human connection • Emergence/complexity theory • Your capacity to make mistakes and be misinformed • Sometimes failure is interesting • Lessons for social media?
  65. 65. AND THIS IS JUST GOSSIP. • So simple it barely counts as a game! • Only two points of participation • No real decisions • No stakes (failure is kind of the point) • Little need to get inside other people’s heads
  66. 66. WHAT ARE GAMES? (A DEFINITION THAT BEAT THE BEST EFFORTS OF ONE OF THE 20TH CENTURY’S GREATEST MINDS)
  67. 67. NOT ALL THE SAME! IN FACT, ONE OF THE MOST INHERENTLY VARIED MEDIA IMAGINABLE
  68. 68. WORKING OUT WHAT GAMES ARE • List examples • Look for common threads
  69. 69. WORKING OUT WHAT GAMES ARE • Classics • Modern classics • Co-operative games • Deception games • Realtime games • Bluffing games • Trick-taking games • Game books • Roleplaying games • Story games • War games • Party games • Word games • Social games • Street games • Pervasive games • Deckbuilding games • Metagames • Collectible card games • Miniature games • Shooters • Strategy games • Puzzle games • Simulations • Adventure games • Racing games • Platform games • Arcade games • Console games • Dance games • Singing/music games • Fighting games • Social sims • God games • Rhythm games • Trivia games • Sandbox games • Massively Multiplayer games • Metacreative games
  70. 70. POINTS OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAMES • Electronic/non-electronic/non-mediated • Story, simulation, competition (Gamist/Narrativist/Simulationist) • Co-operative, team-based, competitive • Dexterity/implementation skill vs decision-making • Randomness and pseudo-randomness, and the effects of where those are built into the game • Hidden/public information • Systemic logic vs human interpretation • Abstract vs themed vs strongly flavoured – and tie-ins – specific franchises, general genres, literary or other • Player numbers – solitaire through massively multiplayer • Input tech (controller, keyboard/mouse, motion, touch, speech, treadmill?) • Scale of game and of movement – sports/geocaching vs screen/tabletop/mental games • Player distribution – local through global • Play duration – seconds, minutes, hours, days, years? • How do games and play sessions connect? One-offs, tournaments, indefinite regular groups, other structures? • Sequential play, parallel play, simultaneous play, realtime play • Nature of the social contract • Player relationship to character – none/3rd-person/1st-person • Social/casual/professional • Output tech (print!, monitor, speakers, VR, haptic, “seismic”?) …and more
  71. 71. A FEW ELEMENTS IN GAMES’ POETIC TOOLBOX • Decisions • Consequences • Rules • Tests of skill • Random inputs • Human improvisation • Procedural content generation • “AI” – scripts for simulating behaviour • Social contracts • Metaphor • OTHER ART: • Visual art • Graphic design • Sound • Music • Text • Performance, especially spoken/acted dialogue • Sculpture (especially miniatures) • Other audiovisual content • …Pretty much anything
  72. 72. A FEW KEY REASONS GAMES MATTER • Billions of person-hours every week • Billions of dollars annually – overtaking Hollywood and publishing, long since eclipsed music. (Again, tabletop games also resurgent!) • Driving innovation in technologies of creation, publishing, distribution and interfaces • Colonising other media – top-selling book hour-by-hour on all of Amazon for three days straight? The new Dungeons & Dragons. • Huge cultural influence, especially among geeks • Tremendous manipulative/educative potential
  73. 73. A FEW KEY REASONS GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES • They are a published form of culture you have to share to experience. We are an institution where people come to share culture. • There is no other institution for games – casinos and arcades aren’t good enough! – and if you were to imagine what such an institution would look like, it would look a lot like the library. (Only with games.) • They build community and offer bridges across irrelevant demographic divisions. • Access is a substantial issue.
  74. 74. ONE KEY REASON GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES • They are about play.
  75. 75. ONE KEY REASON GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES • They are about learning.
  76. 76. ONE KEY REASON GAMES MATTER TO LIBRARIES • They are about learning, and the joy thereof.
  77. 77. WE SHOULD BE UP TO THAT BREAK, BUT…
  78. 78. THE SINGLE GREATEST OBSTACLE If libraries are a kind of playspace anyway and games and play are inherent parts of culture and play is all about learning WHY ISN’T ALL THIS UNDERSTOOD?
  79. 79. IT’S TOO BIG TO SEE We play in infancy, before we can even talk… which makes play ubiquitous. (also childish, easy, trivial)
  80. 80. IT’S TOO BIG TO SEE “If it really mattered it would already be fixed” “If everyone plays why do they need the library’s help”
  81. 81. IT’S TOO BIG TO SEE Which is to say: “It can’t be true, because if it was, it would mean doing things we don’t do now”
  82. 82. BUT… It is true, and because it is, it means huge new opportunities for us and the public.
  83. 83. BUT… It is true, and because it is, it means HUGE new opportunities for us and the public.
  84. 84. BUT… It is true, and because it is, it means new opportunities for us and the public
  85. 85. BUT… It is true, and because it is, it means new opportunities for us and the public
  86. 86. BREAK! (Bebackin10)
  87. 87. What’s the agenda? • Set the ground rules • Meet each other • Learn a little about why this matters • Explore play • Explore games • BREAK! • Possibilities for games and play in libraries • Obstacles • Opportunities • Criticism & curation • Making the case • Find out who’s a WEREWOLF!
  88. 88. What’s the agenda? • Set the ground rules • Meet each other • Learn a little about why this matters • Explore play • Explore games • BREAK! • Possibilities for games and play in libraries • Obstacles • Opportunities • Criticism & curation • Making the case • Find out who’s a WEREWOLF!
  89. 89. Possibilities Many and varied, but here are some broad/key points: • Playing up the “third place”/”new village square” theme (c.f. Brueghel)
  90. 90. Possibilities Many and varied, but here are some broad/key points: • Playing up the “third place”/“new village square” theme • 2-way libraries (no time here! But see http://v.gd/2waylib) • Helping people share culture (all sorts) directly, peer-to-peer • Facilitating self-initiated uses of the library • Leveraging unique library affordances – space, safety, staff, collections, facilities, networks (electronic, institutional, social)
  91. 91. OBSTACLES These largely arise from that big blind spot, but let’s spell them out.
  92. 92. OBSTACLES Staff resistance Management conservatism Systemic indifference Play vs. reading: mode shift Lack of public expectation
  93. 93. STAFF RESISTANCE •Make the case to peers, not just management •Try to offer positive experiences •Talk up library staff’s role as thought leaders •Watch out for sabotaging behaviour, but know it’s often unconscious
  94. 94. MANAGEMENT CONSERVATISM •Accept that constraints are a reality, but don’t let them off the hook – leadership is their job •Appeal to higher-level strategies •Look for metrics that are useful to them •Insist on “room to fail”, i.e. room to learn
  95. 95. SYSTEMIC INDIFFERENCE •Mutually reinforces management conservatism •Critique metrics, budgets that exclude play •Point out blind spots & omissions; link them to low stats – e.g. library use among young men •Push for room to experiment within the system
  96. 96. PLAY VS. READING: MODE SHIFT •Reading: (often) individual, reflective… INTROVERTED •Playing: (often) social, active… “EXTROVERTED” •Feels very different •I would argue these are complements, not opposites, on a very important balance
  97. 97. LACK OF PUBLIC EXPECTATION •Public don’t associate libraries & play – so plug! •People have established private play spaces & groups – tap into these, but respect them •Think about what a library might offer: •Organised events with larger reach •A larger pool of potential players •“Matchmaking” to help find a game
  98. 98. OPPORTUNITIES Games clubs Library Leagues Outreach to geeks, esp. adolescent males Tech access International Leadership (for early adopters) International Games Day @ your Library Promoting social connections between demographics Key intrinsic benefits: systems literacy, theory of mind A better understanding of culture generally
  99. 99. GAMES CLUBS •Like book clubs, but as well as meeting to discuss the work, you meet to play it •(Maybe like Shakespeare club?) •Can be monthly or weekly •In conjunction with local game stores?
  100. 100. LIBRARY LEAGUES •Like local sporting leagues but for games – lower physical barrier to participation •Competition optional •Foster team spirit, local community •Connect that community on wider scale •Take advantage of organised play programs
  101. 101. OUTREACH TO GEEKS/YOUNG MEN •Geeks already feel safe in libraries •Games extremely popular among young men, especially isolated ones •Social connection into a diverse group •Foster pro-social competitive/play norms •Place games in wider cultural/social context
  102. 102. TECH ACCESS •Games tech is hugely influential, not limited to games uses (as above) •Access to understand how it works, and be inspired to create for it, will be expensive •Already something we do
  103. 103. INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP •Games/play clearly going to happen •Major catching up to do •Lots of interesting experiments happening •Much more “waiting and watching”, so taking the lead = visibility (also better learning)
  104. 104. INTERNATIONAL GAMES DAY •Sat November 21, 2015 (3rd Saturday in Nov) •http://igd.ala.org/about •Donations of games •International inter-library games – Minecraft Hunger Games, Global Gossip Game
  105. 105. LIBRARY SKILLS/INFO LITERACY •A game for IGD@yl? •Games as training activities •AADL Summer Game •UTS Zombie game
  106. 106. GAMES AS EDUCATIONAL MEDIA •“Play with” beats “look at” •Simulations •More and more common
  107. 107. PROMOTING SOCIAL CONNECTIONS •Games create a common ground and shared space that obscures age, gender, ethnicity, background, even language sometimes •Play creates a positive experience, turns the “problem of the other” into the “pleasure”
  108. 108. SYSTEMS LITERACY •As important as traditional literacy (also highly complementary to it; also, games drive traditional literacy in incredibly powerful ways) •Major reason to discuss games critically
  109. 109. THEORY OF MIND •The ability to think about what others are thinking; precursor to empathy •Vital life skill •Key benefit of strategic/social/political play
  110. 110. BETTER CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING •A blind spot that big has to have implications for accurate understanding of culture as a whole •Especially if play is not just a type of culture but an element in all culture
  111. 111. Curation & criticism  No time here to talk about collection management, except:  Lending is possible (being done)  In-house use should be tracked in some way  Inventory tech is on the way  Card sleeves are your friend
  112. 112. Curation & criticism  As with books, movies, music, knowing the field is important  “Players’ advisory” is just as worthwhile  Knowing your community matters (so you can connect people)  Join your library’s games club?
  113. 113. Curation & criticism  Criticism can use all the technical details mentioned earlier
  114. 114. POINTS OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAMES • Electronic/non-electronic/non-mediated • Story, simulation, competition (Gamist/Narrativist/Simulationist) • Co-operative, team-based, competitive • Dexterity/implementation skill vs decision-making • Randomness and pseudo-randomness, and the effects of where those are built into the game • Hidden/public information • Systemic logic vs human interpretation • Abstract vs themed vs strongly flavoured – and tie-ins – specific franchises, general genres, literary or other • Player numbers – solitaire through massively multiplayer • Scale of game and of movement – sports/geocaching vs screen/tabletop/mental games • Player distribution – local through global • Play duration – seconds, minutes, hours, days, years? • How do games and play sessions connect? One-offs, tournaments, indefinite regular groups, other structures? • Sequential play, parallel play, simultaneous play, realtime play • Nature of the social contract • Player relationship to character – none/3rd-person/1st-person • Social/casual/professional …and more
  115. 115. Curation & criticism  Criticism can use all the technical details mentioned earlier  But as with any creative work, it’s about its effect: what it does, how  What emotions/ideas/experiences are conveyed/explored/encoded?  How does that happen?
  116. 116. Curation & criticism  Time for an example – a quick game club session!  Card game called Hanabi
  117. 117. Hanabi  Play the next highest number (1-5) in each of 5 colours
  118. 118. Hanabi  Play the next highest number (1-5) in each of 5 colours  Get each colour’s pile as high as you can  Co-operative – all on one team  Easy, right?
  119. 119. Hanabi  You can’t see your hand of cards  YES. You hold your cards with the BACK FACING YOU  You can’t talk about what each other has, except in particular ways  You can only play 2 wrong cards
  120. 120.  Play a card from your hand – if it’s wrong, lose an explosion token; or  Discard a card to gain a clock token; or  Spend a clock token (if any) to  name a player, then  name a colour or number, then  point to ALL matching cards in that player’s hand On your turn:
  121. 121. Hanabi What do you want to talk about?
  122. 122. Hanabi Technique Memory Deduction/logic/negative information Hinting/Implicit communication Hidden information Teamwork, trust & protocol/predictability Emotional regulation & the “problem of the other”
  123. 123. Making the case
  124. 124. Not easy Institutional inertia is hard enough to overcome Institutional inertia backed by cultural inertia is EVEN HARDER Institutional PLUS cultural inertia PLUS funding anxiety… now, that’s a REAL challenge
  125. 125. A challenge ≠ an excuse Libraries are always anxious about funding (we’re driven) We can’t afford to miss this boat We don’t WANT to miss this boat if we care about libraries’ mission. Play is too important.
  126. 126. Use the evidence We’ve only started looking, but it’s there and plentiful Start with the Journal of Play
  127. 127. Work on multiple levels When talking culture generally Within the library/council At state and federal level
  128. 128. Use (& support) your allies There are more of us than might be apparent australianplayalliance.org Make use of me! pm@philipminchin.com
  129. 129. Use (& support) your allies How I can help: Strategic planning & consulting Staff training Public presentations & events PC & Android e-lending platform Discounted tabletop games

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