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Digital Games in Libraries and Information Science

Some of the ways in which computer and video games are becoming more relevant to libraries, librarians, and the information science sector.

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Digital Games in Libraries and Information Science

  1. 1. Digital Games in Libraries and Information Science <ul><li>John Kirriemuir </li></ul><ul><li>Tampere, November 29 th 2007 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  2. 2. Stereotypical image of librarians
  3. 3. …even stereotypical action figures
  4. 4. Not accurate - instead …
  5. 5. Librarians live (and love) to party… Lenore M. Edman,
  6. 6. …and librarians love video games (and nerds)
  7. 7.
  8. 8.
  9. 9. Entertainment in (or from) the library <ul><li>“If we were supposed to restrict ourselves to offering materials with purely redeeming social qualities and educational value, we’d have to throw out half the collection.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Eli Neiburger </li></ul>
  10. 10. 10 ways librarians and digital games collide
  11. 11. 1. Preservation <ul><li>“Here at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France we deal with legal deposits of video games. Since 1992, video games are part of patrimonial collections. Every video game distributed in France must send in two copies to the French national library. </li></ul><ul><li>Our missions are based on exhaustively collecting these kinds of documents as we do with others, cataloguing, and preserving in order to ensure long term access for researchers. We work closely to the game community to defend the game as a document and an object for scientific research.” </li></ul><ul><li>National Library of France </li></ul>
  12. 12. “Library of Congress to Preserve Virtual Worlds” <ul><li>“The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction. Major activities will include developing basic standards for metadata and content representation and conducting a series of archiving case studies for early video games, electronic literature and Second Life, an interactive multiplayer game. </li></ul><ul><li>Second Life content participants include Life to the Second Power, Democracy Island and the International Spaceflight Museum.” </li></ul><ul><li>Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress </li></ul><ul><li>(More soon at </li></ul>
  13. 13. Preserving Games - an ideal task for librarians? Other organisations preserving e.g. “ The machine was on loan from The Museum of Moving Images permanent collection. Apparently, when the Queens, NY based museum decided to start preserving video games’ past, they purchased a whole slew of classic gaming machines… about 300 according to Cunningham. They have five Donkey Kongs that they swap in and out (at the museum the public can play assorted classic games from over the years).” <ul><li>Cataloguing </li></ul><ul><li>Metadata </li></ul><ul><li>Preservation </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion </li></ul><ul><li>Acquisition </li></ul><ul><li>Dissemination </li></ul>
  14. 14. 2. Keeping children quiet in public libraries <ul><li>“I don't know if this counts, but at my library we're just starting to have video games in our After-School Zone.  Kids and teens can go in from 3:15 until 5:00 every day and get a small snack, study or play games.  </li></ul><ul><li>We get a lot of latchkey kids, and we figured that if we entertain them, they're less likely to get into trouble, and they'll be less likely to clump up on the public computers.  Originally we'd wanted to buy a set of laptops for the After-School Zone, but we couldn't work out the computer issues.  The video games were a second-best solution.” </li></ul><ul><li>     </li></ul><ul><li>   Allison Angell, Head Youth Services Librarian </li></ul><ul><li>   Benicia (California) Public Library  </li></ul>
  15. 15. 3. Get people into the library <ul><li>“Check out our newest public library branch in South Carolina - called the Carvers Bay Branch Library. We opened the library two weeks ago with 10 Xbox 360s and 8 gaming PCs, and we plan to use them to persuade young people to register for library cards and to read: the games will serve as the hook for more library usage. </li></ul><ul><li>The library is located right in front of a high school and middle school campus in the poorest, rural area of our county where illiteracy is currently 30% and library card registration is only 2%.” </li></ul><ul><li>Dwight McInvaill </li></ul><ul><li>Director, Georgetown County Library </li></ul>
  16. 16. Different levels of game facility access
  17. 17. Gaming nights at libraries
  18. 18. St. Joseph County Library
  19. 19. Justifying a library gaming tournament <ul><li>Popular with parents </li></ul><ul><li>Tournaments:Videogames:Storytime:Picturebooks </li></ul><ul><li>Make your library a focus of their interests </li></ul><ul><li>Get the boys in the door </li></ul><ul><li>Guaranteed to induce gasps </li></ul><ul><li>Promote your core services to a tough audience </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not all prostitutes and gunplay </li></ul><ul><li>They’re going to be taxpayers someday </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not just for teens </li></ul><ul><li>Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library </li></ul>
  20. 20. 4. Circulating games <ul><li>John Scalzo, librarian, ran a video game loan scheme for a year: </li></ul><ul><li>“… at the end of the first year, having games in a library has been a complete success. They are popular with adults, children and teens and I've only heard the faintest of grumblings (mostly from older patrons) questioning why a library would carry, scoff , games. They are an accepted part of the collection now and it's hard to ask for anything more than that.” </li></ul> Canton Public Library
  21. 21. Survey of 400 US public libraries <ul><li>Gaming in a broad sense, including anything from hosting the local chess club to Web-based games to circulating tabletop or digital games to providing resources for patrons to create their own games. </li></ul><ul><li>77% supported gaming in some way </li></ul><ul><li>Larger libraries are more likely to support gaming than smaller libraries </li></ul><ul><li>43% hosted formal gaming programs where patrons played games in the library </li></ul><ul><li>20% of libraries circulated games </li></ul>Nicholson, Scott. (2007). The Role of Gaming in Libraries: Taking the Pulse . White paper available online at
  22. 22. University of Illinois Library Gaming Collection
  23. 23. Storing games for lending
  24. 24. 5. Circulating support materials <ul><li>When people play digital games, they use a wide variety of materials. The effects on literacy, through games support, is a little-researched area. </li></ul><ul><li>Magazines and newspapers (print, online) </li></ul><ul><li>Walkthroughs (print, online) </li></ul><ul><li>Cheats e.g. codes you type in (print, online) </li></ul><ul><li>Maps (print, online) </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive guides (online) </li></ul><ul><li>Game forums (online) </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs and websites (online) </li></ul><ul><li>Tips from friends (online, social) </li></ul><ul><li>Team-based playing/support (online, social) </li></ul>
  25. 25. 6. Teaching information literacy and searching <ul><li>Several variations on the following have been done as small in-house projects: </li></ul><ul><li>Navigational, adventure/discovery game </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge quest: find and assemble knowledge from library resources </li></ul><ul><li>Acquire practice and skill of library researcher </li></ul><ul><li>Resident librarians as game masters/mentors </li></ul><ul><li>“Open source” game engine, content development, and community participation </li></ul><ul><li>(as described by Walt Scacchi, UCgamelab) </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Goals of the Project </li></ul><ul><li>… Design a computer game that will simulate the complex processes of selecting, using and evaluating multiple sources of information within a library setting </li></ul><ul><li>Align the concepts taught within the game to the New Curriculum and the Information Skills Outcomes for First-Year Students document specifically outlined within the Fletcher Library Information Competencies </li></ul><ul><li>Design a computer game that will incorporate assessment of student learning providing students with immediate, automatic feedback of their actions and skill level </li></ul><ul><li>Target Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Provides systematic delivery of library instruction to first year students using an engaging, active learning model </li></ul><ul><li>Contributes to the development of information competent students, positioning them for greater success in their classes </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthens the library’s role in the education of ASU students </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces the remedial work required by liaison librarians for upper division classes </li></ul><ul><li>Automatic assessment of student skill level </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  27. 27. University of North Carolina Info Lit game <ul><li>1 to 4 players </li></ul><ul><li>Modelled on turn-based board games </li></ul><ul><li>Questions cover various media , sources, plagiarism </li></ul><ul><li>Playable online </li></ul><ul><li>Can be adapted to own use </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  28. 28. Simple web-based games easy to make
  29. 29. 7. Training library staff Christy Branston, GovInfo librarian, University of Waterloo library
  30. 30. Team-based challenge
  31. 31. Leaderboard
  32. 32. 8. Empowering literacy through games <ul><li>Games, especially MMOGs, are literate. </li></ul><ul><li>Combination of symbolic, textual, vocal and other forms of literacy and communication (see next slide). </li></ul><ul><li>MMOGs are intellectually rich environments </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative problem-solving </li></ul><ul><li>Sites for literacy practices </li></ul><ul><li>MMOGs function as a new third place, especially for American youth </li></ul><ul><li>- The Gaming Generation & Libraries: Intersections (Constance Steinkuehler) </li></ul>
  33. 34. 9. Developing skills through supporting game design
  34. 35. 10. Providing info services via virtual worlds
  35. 36. Hundreds of libraries, and librarians, in Second Life
  36. 37. Why? <ul><li>An extra presence in a place where potential library users may be </li></ul><ul><li>Several modes of communication are conducive to discussion, assistance </li></ul><ul><li>Various media can be piped through an SL installation </li></ul><ul><li>Testbed: represent information, and information access, in ways not possible in the real world </li></ul><ul><li>Your SL library is open 24/7, to anyone online </li></ul><ul><li>A chance to build communities of libraries and librarians </li></ul><ul><li>SL heavily promotes education; librarians “play” a natural supporting role in this </li></ul>
  37. 38. Discussion a’plenty…
  38. 39. <ul><li>American Library Association Techsource event </li></ul><ul><li>Big event: </li></ul><ul><li>36 speakers </li></ul><ul><li>Keynotes from Gee, Jenkins, Lawley </li></ul><ul><li>Over-subscribed </li></ul><ul><li>Not just librarians; educators, researchers, parents, teccies… </li></ul><ul><li>Gaming sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Whole day session on Second Life </li></ul><ul><li>Tagged: </li></ul><ul><li>First event; another in planning for next year. </li></ul>
  39. 41. Google groups
  40. 42. Plenty of blogs on games in libraries
  41. 43. Library success: best practices wiki
  42. 44. Two of the books out there
  43. 45. Digital Information Services? Information Studies? Information Science? Library Studies?
  44. 46. Reader, game, library, technology, literature...
  45. 47. Digital Info Service vs Digital Game <ul><li>Person goal: find relevant information </li></ul><ul><li>Devises strategies to find information </li></ul><ul><li>Trial and error; refine searches based on results </li></ul><ul><li>Online versions: many simultaneous accesses </li></ul><ul><li>Constantly developing as technologies, e.g. processor, broadband access, allow </li></ul><ul><li>Academically cross-discipline: info studies, computing, media studies, psychology… </li></ul><ul><li>Person goal: have an enjoyable time (or, curiosity) </li></ul><ul><li>Devises strategies to move forward </li></ul><ul><li>Trial and error; refine play techniques based on results </li></ul><ul><li>Online versions: many simultaneous players </li></ul><ul><li>Constantly developing as technologies, e.g. processor, broadband access, allow </li></ul><ul><li>Academically cross-discipline: info studies, computing, media studies, psychology… </li></ul>
  46. 48. A few common areas of research (?) <ul><li>Human computer interface design </li></ul><ul><li>Effectiveness as learning tools </li></ul><ul><li>Distributed online multi-user information-based systems </li></ul><ul><li>How various groups like professionals or school children search for information </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation of non-textual, symbolic information </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative (sociological) use </li></ul><ul><li>Media and social perceptions </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence with and within other online media </li></ul><ul><li>Measuring information literacy through games and literature </li></ul><ul><li>Movement of data between games/services </li></ul><ul><li>(+ those 10 ways librarians and digital games collide) </li></ul>
  47. 49. Digital library support for EU-funded learning games <ul><li>CERLIM ( providing the digital library infrastructure for the game data </li></ul>
  48. 50. Creeping onto the Information Science and Studies curriculum Duke University
  49. 51. Inter-library game grid idea <ul><li>Virtual public network of online information servers accessible through local library PCs </li></ul><ul><li>Create a virtual private network for inter-library multi-player games and tournaments </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate inter-library game play and game culture </li></ul><ul><li>Deploy online community information-sharing system: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>• “ MyGameSpace” Web portal, blog, wiki, RSS, forum, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• library-specific, community oriented, ethnically diverse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• built from open source software components </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• decentralized development cost, participation, and quality assurance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Walt Scacchi (, Opportunities for Game Culture and Technology in Public Libraries </li></ul>
  50. 52. Researching real-life simulations in virtual worlds <ul><li>What Happens if you Catch Whypox? Children’s Learning Experiences of Infectious Disease in a Multi-user Virtual Environment </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Similar to a natural virus, [which] in its DNA has the information encoded about what it's going to do, in a virtual world, when you have an outbreak, you have a piece of code with instructions about what it's going to do,&quot; said Yasmin Kafai, an associate professor of learning and instruction at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies .” </li></ul>Learning from Virtual Plagues,1000000097,39231001,00.htm
  51. 53. Scott Nicholson at Syracuse
  52. 54. Small amount of research on games in libraries
  53. 55. Librarians researching libraries in Second Life
  54. 56. Back where we started. Librarians, partying (in SL)