Gaming & Game Programming in the Library - ARSL 2013
10/09/2013 12:07:00 AM | Author: Christa

Josh Barnes and Jezmynne Dene, Portneuf District Library, Chubbuck, ID
List of Popular Games and Console Requirements on ARSL Handouts page

Association for Rural & Small Libraries 2013 Annual Conference 
September 26, 2013

Why Game?

Bring in more patrons who would have never thought of coming into the library before.

Social opportunities for kids who normally wouldn’t meet new friends.

Librarian Munchkin
Librarian Munchkin at ARSL 2013
Make connections with patrons – turn ‘users’ into ‘patrons’. Kids who started out just coming in to use the computers learn that the people there can help them with other things, like homework, finding new things to read.

Getting started. What do I need?

Need an excited staff member.

Community games

Find a gaming group that already exists, invite them into the library. Rule – can’t close anyone out of their game – anyone who comes in must be allowed to join.

Board game nights – families – find simple games to play – Tsuro – good for both young children and adults. Cooperative games – for more older adults. Instead of fighting against each other you fight against the board – Red November.

Card games – Munchkin. Deck Building – Dominion. Dice – Quariers.

Strategy – Chess, Checkers, Settlers of Catan.

Always-On Gaming

Limited staff involvement needed. Kids and adults can walk in, play a bit, and then walk out. No end point. Xbox Kinect – no controllers needed.

Sandbox – Minecraft – 1 hour per day allowed, on Xbox, up to 4 at a time can play. In last year, had 6000 children play. Terraria – 2 D – more intricate. Good for older kids who might get bored with Minecraft

Party Games – Wii Sports, etc.

Legos – not just gaming, can do programing around it. STEM programs. Communication – teach another person to build something.

Video Game Night

More competitive, kids can get rowdier. Tweens/teens. Some early 20s. Works best on Friday nights.

Turn based – Worms. Multiple kids on same computer can play. Lots of games online.

Real Time Strategy RTS – Warcraft 3. No turns, about managing time/resources. Can take 2-3 hours.

Co-op – Castle Crashers. Instead of fighting each other, players team up and fight the game.

First Person Shooter FPS – first person perspective, realistic point of view. Call of Duty, Halo. Halo – less realistic, so causes fewer complaints from parents. Halo – can change parameters so it’s not all about shooting each other – races, flying – cant touch the ground.

Gaming Platforms and Cost

Board games – cheapest, but more complex ones will cost more. $10 for Sorry. Dominion – $40-50.

Computer – most versatile, but hardest to manage. Need someone who knows networking and computers to get them set up and talking to each other. Need good video and sound cards - $50-130. Older games will work fine on older computers (2003). Minecraft – library licensing – MinecraftEdu. 30 computers for about $500.

Wii – $150. $35 - extra controllers. Larger TV works best for multiplayer – $400 for 42 inch.

Xbox 360 – $250 for bundle with Kinect. Price may drop soon with new Xbox One coming out.

Challenges to Consider

Parental Complaints – do age limits. All night gaming – no one under 12. Permission slips – had a lawyer look at it (Example Parental Consent Form on ARSL Handouts page). Limit type of games – no FPS. Use the ratings – Everyone and Teen only.

Sharing – too many kids and not enough controllers? Have board games available while they’re waiting. Offer books. Time limits. Have games in open area where people can see – will decrease problems when they know someone will see them.

Broken games – missing pieces. Library absorbs cost of replacing game rather than charging patron.

No one shows up? This is where the excited staff member comes in. Lock ins – teens like it – background checks on staff, permission slips, 8pm-8am, 20-30 kids, 2 staff, food. Change up the games you offer.

Management Buy In

You have to be committed – who is the excited staff member. Long term commitment. How long will you plan to keep the program up? Sustain the health of the project.

Be prepared with your proposal. Have a couple of different ideas. Gear it to your community. Include the costs – games, food, staff time. Requirements – age level, expertise. Make sure you have Assessment metrics – how are you going to tell management this program was a success? Be passionate – enthusiasm, commitment, details.

Identify Community Partners

Don’t compete with them, work with them. Chess guys – what do you need? Library bought 6 chess sets. Give them space, provide snacks.

Wal-Mart willing to donate? Donate PC, games. Goodwill – games that don’t sell. Tell them the goal is to interact with the community, get teens a safe space on Friday nights. Garage sales.

What ifs?

How are you going to deal with problems, like community members who think games are making children into Satanists? Show them that you have 30 kids in the library, safe and having fun and socializing instead of running loose in the town.

Get evidence – your own and studies – Google Scholar. Benefits of gaming by universities.

Success stories – keep track of kids who have made great improvements due to coming to the library.

Involve parents and guardians. Talk to them. Get their input.

Assessment metrics – attendance, program counts. Cost per attendee. User and parent feedback. Give it time to grow. 6 months to a year may be needed for marketing and developing community connections.

How long to get staff up to speed and trained? Staff training is necessary. Make sure even the 80 year old who works 10 hours a week at least knows what a Kinect is. Did it as part of all staff day. 

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