Video Game Technology: The Big Picture
While some people spend their free time watching movies or listening to music, others have embraced video games. Many people can identify themselves as members of the "pre" or "post" video game generation. If you were a youngster when PacMan and Frogger became popular, I guess you might be right on the fence.
Gaming is a very popular activity of young adults. A 2003 Pew Internet & American Life Project study of college students reported that all students have "played a video, computer or online game at one time or another. Seventy percent (70%) of college students reported playing video, computer or online games at least once in a while, and 65% of college students reported being regular or occasional game players. College student gamers’ reported hours studying per week were similar to those reported by college students in general.
In the book Don't Bother Me, Mom -- I'm Learning: How Computer and Video Games Are Preparing Kids for Twenty-First Century Success -- and How You Can Help!, Marc Presky stresses that games can be powerful learning tools.
Video games contain both audio and video elements. Animation is the most typical visual element. Some games even include video clips and narration from television or movies. Video games also usually contain dynamic audio components.
Read Teens, Video Games and Civics from Pew Internet (2008).
No Place for Video Games in Libraries?
“Gaming is increasingly in demand in every community. Even though it may seem daunting, gaming events and services are within the reach of any public library.” -- Eli Neiburger in Gamers... in the Library?!
Many librarians celebrate National Gaming Day in their library. Other librarians do not see a place for video games in library collections; some school librarians, some public librarians. Before you make up your mind, explore the following online resources.
Gaming in Libraries
Explore resources at ALA:
- Games and Gaming Blog
- Games and Gaming Resources for Libraries
- Games for Libraries
- I Love Libraries: Gaming
Articles on Video Games and Gaming
- Focus on Violence obscures Merits of Video Games (Aug. 2005) from USA Today
- Gamers' Brains No Different Than Yours Or Mine (June 2005) from Science Daily
- Gaming at Your Library (July 2005) by Lauren Barack, School Library Journal; 51(7), 22. (Access Requires Login)
- Gaming and Libraries (PDF) from Shifted Librarian (2007).
- Key Facts: Children and Video Games from Kaiser Family Foundation
- Let the Games Begin (Apr. 2005) by Debra Lau Whalen, School Library Journal; 51(4), 40-43. (Access Requires Login)
- No Strong Link seen between Violent Video Games and Aggression (Aug. 2005) from Science Daily
- 'Smart Bomb': Inside the Video Game Industry - read and listen to the NPR broadcast
- Video Games: Grade Schoolers - parent's guide from PBS
- Video Games Roundup (July 2005) from The Shifted Librarian (Online blog)
- Video Games 'Stimulate Learning' (Mar. 2002) from BBC News
- Violent Games 'Affect Behaviour' (Jan. 2006) from BBC News
- Video Gaming, Education and Digital Learning Technologies (Feb. 2002) by John Kirriemuir, D-Lib Magazine; 8(2).
Video Game Information
- Buzz Cut: Critical Videogame Theory
- Digital Game-Based Learning by Marc Prensky
- Education Arcade - mission has been to demonstrate the social, cultural, and educational potentials of videogames
- Game Research - art, science and business of computer games
- Games, Learning and Society Program at University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Game Studies - International Journal of Computer Game Research
- Video Game Revolution from PBS: KCTS
- Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked by Henry Jenkins
Video and Computer Games
There are two types of games: video games and computer games. Video games use a console and controllers that are attached to a television set, while computer games are available on CDs and DVDs that play on the computer. However some people just call everything a video game. Most games require remote controls or other devices such as game pad, gun, or joystick. Many users also purchase headphones, printers, and large monitors.
Games can also be stored on cartridges or discs. Like videotapes and CDs, they can get dusty and will need to be cleaned.
Currently there are over sixty-five video game systems in use. Well-known systems include Gameboy, Game Cube, Nintendo, Playstation, wii, and XBox. New systems are introduced each year. In many cases, new systems require new game cartridge/discss. In some cases, an emulator can be used to replicate the capabilities of another machine.
Computer and video game genres include action, adult, adventure, board games, educational, fighting, game shows, puzzle, racing, role-playing, shooter, simulation, sports, strategy, and traditional.
Action. In these games, players run, jump, climb, and leap around fantasy worlds from one level to the next. Players move throughplatforms or mazes. Cute characters such as Pac-Man, Frogger, or Donkey Kong, and Super Mario are often the heroes. The characters are sometimes modeled after television and movie characters. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell for the Xbox is a recent best-seller. In the case of Tomb Raider, the game came first.
Adult. Some games include explicit sex, nudity, or adult situations. These include titles such as Strip Poker and Bachelor Party.
Adventure. You're stranded in a strange land, you're on a secret mission, or you're solving a crime. These are examples of adventure situations where the characters must solve a problem or complete a journey. Players must sometimes collect things such as keys or treasure. Example include Dragon's Lair, Pokemon and Riven.
Games such as The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy require players to take on the role of a person to complete an adventure or fight battles. They are available in many formats including Game Boy. Others require strategy such as deploying troops.
Educational. In addition to games, you'll find materials such as thinking puzzles, problem solving situations, and learning games. Many materials are available for young children such as The Cat in the Hat and Blue's Clues. Test preparation tools will help students study for the SAT/ACT.
Fighting and Shooting. In fighting games, one player fights one or more opponents using fists as well as weapons. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter are fighting games. Shooting games require players to shoot enemies and survive. The targets may be space ships, jets, ducks, or people.
Racing. Aircraft, bicycles, boats, cars, go-karts, monster trucks, motorcycles, and snowmobiles are just a few of the vehicles use in racing games. Players control the vehicle and race to win.
Simulations. Have you ever wanted to fly a plane, build a city, or win the presidency? Simulations put the player in a real-life or fantasy situation and ask them to succeed at a mission. Some packages include familiar characters such as the Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts.
Sports. In sports games, players compete in a variety of games such as baseball, basketball, football, skating, golf, pool, and wrestling. Madden NFL 2003 for the PlayStation2 is an example of American football.
Traditional. Some video games use traditional games as models. Action, adventure, and word puzzles ask players to solve problems to move to the next level. Other games are based on board games, card games, trivia, or television shows. You'll also find games such as pinball and gambling.
When choosing games, it’s sometimes helpful to learn more about the genre. Go to All Game Guide. It contains information about games, characters, companies, people and platforms. Create a list of ten general questions (and answers) that every gamer would know.
Library Game Collections
A growing number of public libraries are developing game collections.
- What are the pros and cons of this type of collection?
- How is it like and different from other library collections?
- How would you decide which systems to support?
When purchasing games consider the hardware that your patrons are most likely to have available.
- Which game systems are currently the best sellers?
- What controllers are needed to run the game?
Some games require more memory to run. Are your patrons likely to have these systems? Specialty hardware such as a fishing rod or steering wheel may be needed.
Many video games contain violence and adult situations. Some organizations have become involved with rating and evaluating games. For example, the ESRB includes rating such as Early Childhood, Everyone, Teen, Mature, Adults Only, and Rating Pending. Go to our Rating Systems, Labels, and Permission Slips page for more information about this topic and the related issues. Explore well-know groups below:
- ESRB: Entertainment Software Rating Board - this independent, non-profit organization developed a rating system for computer and video games to help select materials.
- Video Game: An Introduction - explore reports and articles.
Game Links and Resources
- A+ Video Game Cheats - designed for people who need help and hints with games as well as game information for older games - w/ popups
- Cheat Planet
- Cheat Index - hints and tips for games
- Classic Gaming - gaming the way you remember it
- PlayStation Games from About.com
- Video Game Strategies from About.com
- Videogames.org - past and present
- Video Games - links from Open Directory
- Videotopia - history of video game
Get into the debate related to video game collections in libraries. Do you think public libraries should have video game collections? Why or why not? Build a case for both options.
Online and Alternate Reality Games
Increasingly, people of all ages are involved in online gaming. Multiplayer Online Games involve playing through the Internet and MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) also involve online play but may involve a huge number of players. World of Warcraft is an example of a MMORPG.
They may also be combining live action activities with hand-held devices and social networking tools. These Alternate Reality Games are being used by some librarians to draw in new library users.
Read 7 Things You Should Know About Alternate Reality Games (PDF) from EDUCAUSE.
Read the blog posting and watch the video at Library Bazaar about alternate reality games in the library.
Explore Immersive Marketing for Libraries: Alternate Reality Games and Library Orientations by Jeremy Donald and Jason Hardin in EDUCAUSE. This immersiev game involves new students in an engaging orientation.
Explore Secret City, an alternate reality game set in a historic library.
Neiburger, Eli (2007). Gamers... in the Library? The Way, What, and How of Videogame Tournaments for All Ages. Chicago, IL: ALA.