Gaming Conferences this Summer

If you are really into gaming and libraries there are two conferences you might be interested in attending this summer. I will not be attending either…no more college fundage…paying own way to ALA in DC…kitchen is the last room to be remodeled this summer…you get the idea. However, Paul is going to one or both and I'm sure he'll share.

ALA TechSource is sponsoring the first annual (read new revenue stream) Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium on July 22-23 in Chicago.  Registration is open. I think the price is too high ($300), but hey you get a copy of Jenny's book and fun finger food/refreshments. James Paul Gee is one of the keynote speakers. The sessions looks interesting. There are some focused on the use of gaming for teaching information literacy concepts. However,  I don't believe that an individual library can realistically develop a full blown interactive game on their own. Paul has the fire. Someone with the deep pockets should fund him (hint hint). Then we can all reap the benefits.

During an email exchange, Paul alerted me to the third annual Games, Learning & Society conference being held in Madison on July 12-13. Registration is open and will set you back $295 if you register before May 31. James Gee is again a keynote speaker. This conference may be a bit more cerebral, but would still be of interest to librarians interested in gaming and learning.

The GLS Conference fosters substantive discussion and collaboration among academics, designers, and educators interested in how game technologies – commercial games and others – can enhance learning, culture, and education. Speakers, discussion groups, and interactive workshops will focus on game design, game culture, and games’ potential for learning.

If you go to either conference, I encourage you to share what you heard and learned. Do you know of other gaming conferences happening this summer?

ALAO 2006: The Laptop Dinner: UC’s Libraies’ Online Gaming Tutorial

Olga Hart, Ted Baldwin, Debbie Tenofsky, Stephena Harmony, and Heather Maloney from the University of Cincinnati shared their experience developing an online game [PowerPoint slides] during the Instruction Interest Group breakout session. I was very interested to see how far they had gotten in the development of their game. I had dinner with Olga and some other Ohio librarians at LOEX in May. Olga had described their library faculty learning community focused on using games as pedagogy during dinner.

The UC team has spent over 200 hours developing their game. Unfortunately we were not able to see a live demo during the session. However, they did show us some screen captures (see the PowerPoint slides). Their game is focused on teaching plagiarism. It is remnicent of the Sims, but requires the students to make choices to move the game forward. 

The tools they used to create the game include: Flash for the framework, Poser for animation, and Mimic for audio synch. They recommended that game development requires a lot of time, project management, and resources.  Additional best practices and lessons learned can be found in their slides.

Their session handout (not included in the PowerPoint slides) includes the following "sources of inspiration":

Tutorials 

Books

Article

Got Game?

I was on vacation last week trying to burn the rest of my days off before the end of the fiscal year. I was able to finish one of the books recommended at a LOEX session, Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever by John Beck and Mitchell Wade. It's a relatively short book coming in at 180 pages. Beck and Mitchell surveyed 2,500 business professionals in the US. Their research subjects included recent MBA grads from two programs (unidentified universities on the West Coast and in the Midwest) and business professionals working in all sizes of companies and in a wide range of fields. Their research focused on finding out if worker's abilities, expectations, and attitudes were different between those that grew up playing or being around games versus those that did not.

I was a little disappointed in their choice to make 1975 the starting point for what they called the Gamer generation. I don't agree with this choice, since I was born in 1970 and I consider myself to be a gamer. I also know many other people born anywhere from 1968 to 1974 who are active gamers.

Beck and Mitchell set the stage for their findings by starting out with a quick overview of the development of the game industry. They then explore some of the common concerns about video games: sexism, violence, stereotypes, and isolation before jumping into the analysis.

Their research shows that gamers:

  • are driven to compete;
  • care about the fate of their employer;
  • are very loyal;
  • are engaged in their work;
  • prefer to multitask;
  • prefer compensation tied to actual performance; 
  • enjoy being the hero;
  • value teamwork;
  • are comfortable taking risks; and
  • learn best through trial and error.

Throughout the book Beck and Mitchell offer suggestions on how managers can best use a gamer's strengths. The book doesn't have much to offer for those interested in the use of games for learning. However, I would still recommend this book to anyone with management responsibility.