International Games Day @ your library Game on November 15, 2014!

Surprise worldwide donation: OnePlay videogame e-lending service!

Posted on October 20, 2014

Hi everyone! We have some very exciting news - a new donor for ALL libraries worldwide!

Oneplay logoThe Donor

OnePlay is a company based in Las Vegas and Denmark that offers a digital gaming subscription service, where users instantly can download and play unlimited Android and PC games for a low subscription fee.

 

The Donation

OnePlay would like to sponsor unlimited donations to IGD participating libraries of a 1-year subscription for the OnePlay VIP gaming service.

This will enable your users to create individual accounts that they can then use to download & play 1000+ PC and Android games, with new titles added daily! It's e-lending, but for electronic games, not e-books!

 

BONUS Prize for 100 libraries!

In addition, 100 lucky libraries that claim this donation receive a bonus $50 gift-certificate to buy a game outright from OnePlay's online store! Great for gaming PCs!

 

How it works

See the OnePlay site for details - but basically your borrowers get access to an installer for each game that asks them to re-validate the loan every 30 days. They can install the game up to two times. So they do need to check in with OnePlay when first installing and running the game, and if more than 30 days has lapsed since the last validation of the loan - but otherwise no internet connection is required (unless the game itself needs one, of course)!

 

Claiming the Donation

To claim the donation and attempt to claim a bonus prize, send an email from your library/work email address to Lasse Jensen at lasse [at] oneplay [dot] com with subject "IGD Sponsorship", giving your library's contact details in the body for verification purposes, and requesting the OnePlay prize.

OnePlay will then send activation code(s) with information about how to redeem ASAP.

There is a limit of 1 prize package per participating library, and the bonus $50 voucher is limited to 100 libraries - either the first 100 that contact them, or if more than 100 libraries contact them within the first 24 hours, 100 of those selected at random (to ensure that no timezone gets an unfair advantage).

And yes - that does mean that any library anywhere in the world is eligible to request this donation from OnePlay!

The window to claim this donation closes at midnight, Friday October 31, PST. And again, every library that claims a donation will receive the subscription! If you're not in the first 100, you only miss out on the gift certificate - the more valuable donation is available right until the end of the month.

 

Additional information

For more information, read OnePlay's How It Works and FAQ pages, or contact them through their site (which has live support chat).

[DISCLAIMER: As a volunteer-run event, we're not in a position to assess the technical or legal implications of this service for your library - as with any service, you will need to assess that independently and based on your unique circumstances and needs. But hopefully it helps that there will be no cost to access the service for an entire year - a pretty solid evaluation period!]

Our heartfelt thanks to OnePlay for their support of International Games Day and games in libraries generally!

Game folks on libraries: Brenda Romero

Posted on October 17, 2014

This installment’s interviewee, Brenda Romero, has a list of accomplishments far too long for me to easily fit in our standard intro paragraph below - you can see a more complete story at http://romero.com/bios/. But even to that I need to add that I personally owe her a tremendous debt: her pioneering work in demonstrating how games can explore profound questions just as any other artistic medium can has been hugely influential in shaping my own appreciation of and commitment to play as culture that deserves intelligent, critical engagement and curation just as much as any other artform. It's a real honour to have her here! My thanks to Brenda - not only for participating in this interview, but for her entire body of work.

Influential in the early years of PC gaming, Brenda Romero began her career in games at 15 and hasn't stopped since, leading design on a major cRPG series and then moving from genre to genre within videogames, branching out into academia, making non-digital games that explore issues of profound historical and personal consequence, and shining a light on just how vast the possibilities for games really are. A leader and educator in the best sense of both words, she both expands our understanding of games and play, and reminds us that we cannot explore all those possibilities without the full spectrum of humanity being free to participate in those explorations. She currently runs Romero Games with her husband, John Romero (yes, the one who was part of igniting the first-person action genre), teaches at UC Santa Cruz, serves on the advisory board of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games at the Strong Museum of Play, and has just (in the last few days) returned from a Fulbright Fellowship trip to Ireland.

Brenda, thank you so much for finding time for us so soon after a major international trip! What is your past experience of libraries?

Interestingly enough, my connection to libraries is quite strong. My mother volunteered at a library for years and re-cataloged the library to go with the Dewey Decimal system. Her love for books and our regular trips to the library are among my cherished memories. I don’t recall there being board games at our library, though. I am sure there were board games there, but somehow, I missed them. Their collection of video games was quite small and usually pretty tattered.

What is your sense of where libraries are now, both in relation to games and in general?

It’s a challenge for libraries, I think, in regards to games. Having a lending library is near impossible when one thinks of the on-line nature of video games. That said, there is a tremendous body of work which exists in boxed form and printed form that institutes like the Strong Museum are working to collect and catalog. Their library is the best game-related library I have seen.

Where do you see this going, and where could it go?

As a game historian, I hope to see more people have access to games and to computers through their local libraries. This is particularly important in areas where computers are not commonplace. Games are increasingly becoming an educational tool, and access is more important than ever.

Updates on donations – they’re coming soon!

Posted on October 16, 2014

Hi everyone,

We're starting to get some questions about donations - we'll have some more details in the not-too-distant future, but I just wanted to let everyone know that we're beginning the process of sending the donors the details of the libraries who have requested games. The reason we do this now is that it's substantially easier (and therefore cheaper) for the donors to process and ship the bundles all at once, rather than a few at a go. (Plus of course a single data export is less work for volunteers and introduces fewer chances for data error, duplication of records, etc.)

So if you took the opportunity to request donations when filling out your registration form, you should start getting them in the next couple of weeks. And as mentioned, further updates to come!

International Minecraft Hunger Games update – how it will work!

Posted on October 14, 2014

ANN ARBOR DISTRICT LIBRARY PRESENTS:

INTERNATIONAL MINECRAFT HUNGER GAMES

(IMHG)

POWERED BY
GTSYSTEM.ORG

 

WHAT IT IS:

A week-long Minecraft Hunger Games tournament, open to libraries of all types, all over the world! Play optional matches against nearby libraries any time the week of November 10 - 15, then select two tributes to send to the finals for your region on Saturday November 15! Each Library becomes a "District".

 

EACH LIBRARY WILL PROVIDE:

  • A number and specialty for your "District" (i.e. team)
    (These can be whatever you choose. Example: DISTRICT 343 - AADL - Ann Arbor, Michigan - The Used Record Store and Artisanal Corned Beef District)
  • 2 Computers with Minecraft installed and connected to the internet.
  • Use of 2 Minecraft logins (these can be your player's logins, or a shared library login if you've bought a Minecraft license)
  • 1 Computer with internet connection for library staff to monitor and communicate
  • Space to hold a Minecraft event anytime the week of November 10 - 15
  • 2 "Tributes" (i.e. players), 1 boy and 1 girl if at all possible, if you wish to participate in the finals.

 

AADL WILL PROVIDE:

  • GTSYSTEM Tournament Management account for each registered District
  • Dedicated, preconfigured IMHG Server online
  • Scoring Data
  • Matchup Forums
  • Tournament Updates

 

HOW IT WORKS:

Each library will register as a "District" and will receive gtsystem site and moderator accounts. Gtsystem includes the controls to start, stop and monitor your IMHG server. The servers will be available for testing starting November 3, and available for tournament play starting November 10.

You can have up to 32 players on your server at once. Each player needs a computer with Minecraft installed, an internet connection, and a valid Minecraft login. These can be the players' own logins, or logins bought by the library. Once you get logged in on one account, you won't need to switch logins between matches.

You can play Hunger Games matches on your server with just players from your library, or you can find matchups against nearby districts through the gtsystem forums. During the week, you can play as many or as few matches against other libraries as you'd like, for your players to get experience, or to choose your eventual tributes, or for grudge matches against rival libraries. These qualifying matches are not required.

 

Then, on Saturday November 15, there will be a staggered series of final matches in different regions based on timezone. This will be finalized when registrations are final in a few weeks. Each District can send 2 tributes - 1 boy and 1 girl - to the finals. Participation in the finals is also optional. The finals will narrow down the participating field until only a single player remains.... the winner of the first ever INTERNATIONAL MINECRAFT HUNGER GAMES!

Still have questions? Here's an overview, and our FAQ!

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NOW:

Please fill out this quick form so we have your name, email, library, name, and a few other critical things:

http://goo.gl/AIsGpJ

A member of the AADL Capitol Team will be in touch to confirm your registration and hand you your gtsystem credentials. Stay tuned to this list for updates and details as we draw closer!

 

ANY QUESTIONS?

Contact us anytime at gtsystem@aadl.org for help or with questions!

Thanks for your interest and participation and....

MAY THE ODDS BE BETTER ON YOUR SERVER

Talking Points: Play, analysis and action

Posted on October 13, 2014

Welcome to the last of our series on the powers of play (which starts here for those just coming in). In some ways we've saved the best to last - not in terms of writing, that's hardly for me to say, but in terms of the importance of the point being made. Hope you agree - and whether or not you do, hope you've found the series thought-provoking, and that it's inspired you to grant play the respect it deserves as a fundamental aspect of human intelligence and culture!

If you're familiar with my work outside IGD, or you’ve been paying attention to the way I’ve espoused the virtues of games and play, you’ll have gathered that I have a fairly cerebral approach to things. Playing helps us learn better, think more creatively, be mindful of others, broaden our cultural horizons, make better decisions… you might be forgiven for thinking that thinking’s all I’m concerned about!

In fact, this is a long way from the truth; I’m interested in thinking because it informs what we actually do. Getting your thinking right means you’re infinitely more likely to get your doing right. But in the process of dwelling on those aspects of learning, I’ve neglected to point out that games are also the most active of artforms. So it’s time to make this point properly.

To begin with, I’ve touched on the fact that play and games actively improve skills, not just knowledge and intelligence, but I haven’t really dwelt on it, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure it’s saved my life at least once.

(Short version: driving in rural Australia, sharpened reflexes and improved threat anticipation allowed me to avoid being sideswiped by a semitrailer that had to brake and swerve into my lane.)

But in fact this is another core value of play, and games especially (but not exclusively, since it’s possible to play without the defined objectives of most games): they teach us that to achieve our goals, understanding of one’s decisions and the context in which one makes them are vitally important – but so is actually turning understanding into decisions and decisions into actions.

It’s inherent to the nature of games: while they can incorporate other artforms (language, static and moving visual forms, music and audio elements, tactile elements…), the distinctive markers of this medium (or rather, these media: games are incredibly varied) are that they include the poetic arrangement of decisions, actions, and tests of skill for the audience. In other words, if you’re not actively doing something, it’s not much of a game. You have to be playing it: “you” being the subject of that sentence means the action is coming from you.

What this means is that while games encourage and improve our capacity for analysis and reflection, they do so within a context of that thought having to inform action. That action can include decisive inaction, i.e. not doing something because that is the most intelligent option; but there is a world of difference between that and defaulting to inactivity. (As an example of this, read the section headed “Identify What Matters Most” in Live Like a Gamer, an article by Mark Rosewater, the Head Designer of one of the world’s most popular tabletop games, Magic: the Gathering. The whole article is worth a read, in fact, since its whole point is to catalogue some of the often non-obvious ways in which games teach important life-skills.)

This has two major positive effects.

First, it creates what you might call an “implementation bias”. It’s one thing to come to a good judgment; it’s another entirely to enact one. But games drive home the fact that even the most perfect understanding means nothing without action. What’s more, having the inbuilt assumption that any conclusions you come to will have to be implemented gives you a stronger incentive to make decisions which are actually good,[1] because they give you a much stronger incentive to be engaged with reality than decisions where you are (unconsciously or otherwise) letting yourself off the hook of having to make them work in the real world.

Second, linking analysis to enactment works both ways, building an iterative, error-checking propensity into our actions. Nobody ever has perfect information; while you can be more or less confident, you can’t know when you formulate a plan how it will turn out. A good game trains us for this, because it creates plenty of room for surprises, whether from random elements, from cunning AI, or from competing players. Not only do you learn to try to anticipate what might be coming, but you learn to expect that you will have to deal with things you failed to anticipate, that you may need to revise your specific tactics to achieve your strategic objectives, that strategies may need to be revised or discarded in order to achieve your goal, and even that goals may be conflicting and you may need to prioritise or choose between them. The only way you can know that you have reached this point is if you are continuing to pay attention to your environment as you roll out your plan, and constantly thinking about what you are learning.

I call this capacity to maintain mindfulness while in the thick of things “reflection-in-action”. Closely related to Csiksentmihalyi’s “flow”, it layers on top of that close engagement with immediate circumstances the detached analysis of the planning stage, allowing the mind to draw insight from both bigger-picture, abstract or systemic understandings and the minutiae of the actual unfolding of events. At its most extreme, it feels like a literally mind-expanding experience (yes, I know it’s hard to be literal about the intangible, but that’s the subjective sensation): as you watch developments with which you are this closely engaged, you feel as though your mind is extending itself both outside the boundaries of your ego-self into the abstract and conceptual truths that reflect wider reality, and also out of your skull into that actual reality.

This isn’t isolated to play – the act of creation can also induce this experience, which to me highlights the connection between play and creation. But given that elsewhere it’s a hallmark of humanity’s most exceptional achievements, and it’s a useful capacity either way, it’s yet another reason to reconsider our false assumptions – and realise that just because the overt outcomes of play are typically of little value outside the context of the game, play itself is far from trivial.