Got Game on the Brain.
I’m late to the whole gaming and how it affects libraries thing, but I’m a total convert now and it’s something I’m going to actively track from now on. At first I thought it was just interesting, and while I did like the idea of bringing tweens and teens into the library using gaming as a social carrot, I’m gaining a totally different perspective for the way we can use the characteristics, expectations, and interplay of gaming and gamers in a “tipping point” kind of way.
The latest catalyst for this round of “gaming on my brain” is Moira Gunn’s interview with John Beck for IT Conversations. I’ve listened to the podcast of it twice in the last three days, and a couple of his points really resonate with me. In case you’re not familiar with him, Beck wrote Got Game: How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever, and this podcast is the first chance I’ve really had to hear him talk about all of this since Audible doesn’t carry the audiobook and I’ve never seen Beck speak in person. While listening to it, all I could think of was Brent and how much Beck totally nails him and his friends. I even made Sheree listen to the interview and she agrees with me, although we both disagree with Beck about gender differences because most of the girls we know don’t play video games much at all.
At one point in the interview, Gunn asks Beck how gamers will change the workplace, and Beck provides an example observation that in video games, there are “level bosses” that you have to beat in order to advance further in the game. So one of the things you don’t want to be in real life if you’re a gamer or the supervisor of a gamer is a “boss.” I hadn’t thought about that before, although I always hear Brent talking about bosses in a negative way. In fact, when he started playing video games years ago and he first told me he was having trouble beating the “boss,” I thought that was the name of the character he was fighting. It took me awhile to realize it was his generic term for “the big bad guy at the end of the level.” Then came the realization that it wasn’t just him using the term, it was all of his friends. Imagine his surprise when he first heard me talking about my boss in a positive way!
Beck goes on to say that in the workplace, you don’t want to be a “boss,” but rather a “strategy guide,” because that’s what gamers rely on, especially to beat the boss. And as I was listening to this, it struck me that this is an excellent description of librarians! I’ve always liked that comic drawing of a librarian sitting behind a reference desk with a sign on it that says “search engine,” but now I’ve decided that I’d rather be a “strategy guide” instead. In fact, if I could, I’d change my job title to “strategy guide.” That’s exactly how we need to market ourselves to gamers, boomers, bosses, everyone. The big question, of course, is how to do that and more and more, I think gaming offers clues for how to do that.
If you don’t really understand why this gaming stuff is important, why it will be important in the future (the not-so-distant-future), why it will affect everyone (including you) or why gamers truly are different than you or me, then this interview is a great place to start. I highly recommend you listen to it. And don’t let anybody tell you that these kids aren’t any different than we were at their age, because they’re not like us at all. I was struck by how Beck’s descriptions of gamers mirror so closely the way I talk about NetGens (aka Millennials) in my own presentations. I’m going to have to rework my stuff a bit to highlight the gamer aspect of this generation.
Oh, and if you listen to the Beck interview and get as excited and intrigued about all of this as I did, be sure to register for our upcoming Tech Summit on Gaming @ Your Library! Thanks to our Executive Director, Alice Calabrese, I get to attend the ADL Games, Learning, & Society Conference in June, after which I’m debating trying to put together a day-long symposium/discussion/whatever specifically about gaming and libraries.[The Shifted Librarian]