I really wanted to immerse myself in gaming culture last week but with everything going on at school and in life I didn’t get around to it. Conceiving of online games as a form of social software was not hard for me as I have many RL (Real Life) gamer friends who tell me all about their experiences with existing friends and making new friends while gaming. In many respects I think the kind of networking that can go on through games is superior to that which takes place in other social media sites. In my RL circle I know of more than one person who has met the love of their life in a game, or made friends they had to travel to other countries to visit in RL.
Viewing online gaming as another social media tool, I wonder what all the hype is around libraries trying to captivate Gamers. I really wonder about the motivation of libraries who try to run gaming programs sometimes. One reason I think they don’t succeed has to do with the sort of commitment it requires to engage in an online game. While I may check my Facebook in the library it is certainly not the main reason I go, and on occasion when it has been I probably don’t stay on Facebook for longer than 15 minutes.
Participating in online games however requires much more time; it is not uncommon to spend several hours in a game. Considering things like comfort of seating, ability to get up a leave for a short while (say to use the washroom) without being timed out of a computer, not to mention notions about being quiet, I don’t find it any wonder why people don’t frequent the library to game.
Reflecting on my background in Gender Studies, one of the themes that came up again again was the issue of inclusion. Feminist theory class explored in length the ways certain theories and their RL manifestations, through action or policy, excluded peoples in various ways. This exclusion could be seen as explicit in some cases, but more often then not the real problem lay with the theory’s ignorance of issues relevant to the lives of the groups excluded. I think this is at the heart of the problem of Libraries’ inclusion of Gamers.
My colleague does an excellent job of highlighting this and suggesting some ways libraries can work to serve Gamers in a meaningful way.
If gaming represents a unique culture than simply adding on programs that seem relevant from an outsider perspective is not the answer. If libraries’ want to be inclusive to Gamers libraries need to listen to what Gamers are saying and let Gamers identify what they want of libraries.