Magazine article Information Today

Eye of the Tiger

Magazine article Information Today

Eye of the Tiger

Article excerpt

At ITI's Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, D.C., in March, someone ordered pizza for gaming night, and about a hundred librarians showed up to test-drive the interactive games on display.

The entire notion of gaming in libraries, while wildly advocated by some, remains controversial. If we were talking about the library hosting a spelling bee or a Sudoku bake -off, there would be few people who would think it out of sync with a library's character or social charge. It gets hairy when the games in question are played off a black box and have virtual aspects.

I don't want to get into the debate about whether such games draw in teens and young adults who may get a taste for other library services as a result. But in general, I don't think bait-and-switch tactics actually work.

But if we can agree that libraries are about exposing people to mediums of expression and to the artifacts of information discovery and creative endeavor, then we will have no trouble accepting interactive games as legitimate elements for public display at our libraries.

Of course, games are entertainment devices first and foremost. But some games are also knowledge containers with built-in messages about our cultural beliefs and social standards. Think about chess with its kings, queens, bishops, knights, and pawns. It's a game of strategy, but it's also a container of a cultural viewpoint, feudal as it might be. It's a game, but it's also a knowledge object.

Now think about Monopoly, the board game from Parker Bros., with a logo that makes little secret that the game is about a real estate tycoon before the Great Depression. The tycoon goes out buying and selling properties, collecting a buck at every turn, and goes bust once in a while, if not to jail. Does this remind you of any other times besides the 1930s? It's not just a game; it's a container for the lessons of the past (not that we ever learn not to repeat the errors).

Enter Guitar Hero World Tour, one of the Xb ox games featured at CILs gaming night. I also had the opportunity to test-drive this one in advance at my daughter's house. …

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