06 June 2007

Gaming in the Library: forcing us to a new frontier

Gaming seems to surround me: I just registered for the ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium,
Champlain's E-gaming program is a constant source of ideas for collaboration and creation, and then today's posting on the ACRL Blog about serious gaming. This after having listened to a number of gaming professors talking this week about how to change the public and the academy's perception of gaming such that it is considered a true discipline.

But to stick with Marc Meola's question about libraries and gaming: he's right that gaming offers libraries incredible opportunities to teach skills and to learn about our own resources. But what I think is missing from his post is the empowerment gaming gives to students as they learn. I think what is missing from non-gamers understanding of the game world is that we just think of it as a "game." What could possibly keep someone playing for hours? Why are they "wasting" their time? But what I am learning is that gaming empowers players to explore whatever information is conveyed through the game in a way that interests and works for them. Different people want different things from the game. This seems to echo Henry Jenkins belief that what young people are taking from games is far more than just entertainment. They are bringing a whole different skill set to the game and extracting a new skill set from it. In many ways, its nonlinearity might be more challenging for libraries to incorporate into games where we have a IL outcomes in mind. But that same nonlinearity might be the very key to making information literacy a truly essential component to students' critical thinking mechanisms.

I agree with Meola that gaming is opening up in new ways that libraries can explore in a multitude of ways. But a large part of that is for libraries to think differently. Is it outcomes that are the preliminary focus? Or might it be more about collaborative tools in learning, and how the collaborative, interactive nature of gaming can be less "used" and more impactful in instructing our students.

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