Virtual Worlds and Gaming

I have to admit, I am not a gamer. I didn’t have video games growing up and can probably count on one hand the number of times I played video games at a friend’s house. In recent years I have experimented with things like Guitar Hero and karaoke games (like the Glee game for Wii!) but that is about it. Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them this, as if I was deprived as a child or something, but I honestly don’t feel like I missed out on anything. I don’t really play computer games often, but I did go through a Sims phase while procrastinating from writing essays during my undergrad. I haven’t tried Second Life, but to me it kind of seems like a modified version of the Sims in which you can interact with other people whose characters you didn’t create.

All that being said, I do think games have some value for libraries. Having a gaming night can help bring teens to the library, especially if they can borrow the games. While they’re there, why not offer some book, movie, or music suggestions from the collection that have similar themes as the game? I also think that games can have some educational value. Many require strategy and there is reading involved both in terms of instructions and in reading strategy guides. As for virtual worlds like Second Life, a library could establish a presence there for answering reference questions, but I wonder how many people would go there. How many people in a given library’s community are going to be on Second Life and of those that are, how many know how to find the library and would actually do so? If Second Life is complicated to learn then I don’t see many people using it to connect with the library, and setting up and maintaining a library presence might not be worth the time it would take.

Even though I am not much of a gamer, I think the “Find the Future” game sounds really cool. Maybe I am a dork but I think it would be awesome to go on a scavenger hunt at New York Public Library. I also like that they are making a book about the experience. What a great way to get people involved, both in person and online. If more libraries did this I might have to get one of those pesky smartphones after all.

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