I had the opportunity last week to attend a brainstorming and sharing session online about gaming and libraries. The session had been written about on LibraryJournal.com (Save the Date: R U Game? January 10th, 2011) in their Games, Gamers & Gaming section. A Sydney librarian, Ellen Forsyth, runs this series of seminars, but the really cool thing is that she holds these monthly seminars in World of Warcraft.
Yes, you read that correctly. In World of Warcraft.
Participants logon to Warcraft, create a new character on her home server, send her a message to request to join the guild (aptly called <Where is the library>), and then meet in the library in the dwarven city called Ironforge. As an avid World of Warcraft player, I was rather excited to be there! All told, there were about nine of us who showed up and participated, though apparently I was the only Canadian (and academic library representative) in the bunch, with many of the others from Australia (one was even from one of the seriously flooded areas!), one from the UK and one from the US, if memory serves.
It was a real treat to be able to chat with others real-time from other libraries to find out what they are using games for, what types of games they have available, and what their plans were for the future. Many of the others mentioned having console games, as we have in the Lyons New Media Centre, but several libraries represented have also embraced other forms of gaming, ranging from board games and more traditional gaming to LARPs (live action role-playing games) and table-top role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.
The interesting point for me was also how the games were used in the various libraries. Some used the games simply to engage library users, while others tried to use gaming as a purpose for coming to the library and still others liked to tie games into their other existing collections and resources, using scavenger and treasure hunt-like games to help library users become more familiar with what their library had to offer them. LAN parties are being planned, competitions have happened, and everyone seems to be having a ball.
An interesting point that a couple of the other library representatives mentioned was that they learn better by doing things, and so learning via games was something that really appealed to and worked for them. I find myself in the same category as these individuals, so I couldn’t help but agree that gaming and learning can work really well for some. In the end, a scheduled half-hour talk lasted a full hour and had to be cut short so we could fit in the second half of the purpose of the session: scary books (another love of mine).
Though a half hour (or hour in this case) isn’t a lot of time to get into details of how to approach gaming in libraries (and academic settings), I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about what other libraries are doing, what’s working for them and not, and simply what their future plans are for this topic. I’ve been invited back to future sessions, so I hope that I will have more info to report back at a later date.
For the transcript of our talk, feel free to have a look at the Brainstorming Discussion – Games and Public Libraries page on their wiki. #rugame