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Book folks on games: Hail to the Chiefs! It’s the ALA and ALIA Presidents!

Posted on October 30, 2014

After finishing the "Game folks on libraries" series with the extraordinary Brenda Romero, I didn't want to drop the bar - so we're winding up this year's "Book folks on games" with a bang too! It's a double-header with the Presidents of both the American Library Association (ALA) and its new partner in IGD this year, the Australian Library & Information Association (ALIA). We're very honoured (and also honored) to have them both contributing their thoughts!

Courtney Young (ALA)

Normally I let people's bios provide most of the introductions, but in this case I feel it's a little understated. As the website she set up for her election campaign makes clear, Courtney is a woman of many accomplishments - indeed, it's remarkable to scroll down her list of "Selected Professional Activities" and realise that all this has been compressed into a mere decade-and-a-bit. (At the risk of making her blush - though there's no reason she should - the Endorsements page also makes for some impressive reading.)

Courtney L. Young is the 2014-2015 American Library Association (ALA) President. She is currently the Head Librarian and Professor of Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State Greater Allegheny, and previously held positions at Penn State Beaver and Penn State University Park, Ohio State University, and Michigan State University. Within ALA, she has served on the Executive Board and the Council, and as President of the New Members Round Table. In 2011, Courtney was named a Library Journal "Mover & Shaker". Courtney graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio with a B.A. in English and minors in Black Studies and Women's Studies. She received her M.S. in Library Science from Simmons College. Courtney frequently presents and publishes on issues related to academic librarianship, diversity, virtual reference, leadership, and professional development.

Courtney, welcome and thank you! We know you're busy, so we are both honoured and appreciative. Let's kick off with our first question: what is your past experience of play and games?

I have an extensive history with games and play. My older brothers played all types of electronic games, including handheld sports games and early console games.

We also play board games in my house. For example, I loved playing Monopoly... but the rest of the family was not as much of a fan because the game play took so long. Card games featured too. I used to watch my mother play solitaire, and Go Fish was one of my early favorites.

I also had a love for tabletop electronic games. One year for Christmas I received a Pac-Man system (see http://www.geekvintage.com/images/coleco-tabletop-pac-man-system.jpg). I spent a lot of time working on my high score and getting an extra life!

My first foray into computer gaming was Math Blaster!, designed to help me improve my math skills. My first gaming at the public library was as a pre-teen where I played Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? When my older brother went to graduate school he gave me his Nintendo. I owned some games, but would rent others from video stores as this was before libraries started lending games. I've owned a variety of gaming consoles (Sega Genesis, SNES, PS1, PS2, PS3, Game Boy, Nintendo GameCube, Wii). I still do a lot of gaming.

Thank you for sharing that! What do you see as the current state of games in libraries?

Games are being recognized more widely as important in our society. As a reference librarian I've noticed over the past ten years an increased interdisciplinary interest in game theory and gaming for course-related assignments. It is common on campus to see students gaming together between campuses, be it X-Box or Magic: the Gathering. Libraries hosting open houses increasingly include a gaming component for attendees. My public library colleagues host Wii for Seniors events. More academic libraries are developing game collections. As a natural gathering place in the community, the library is a great place for legal gaming to take place, such as chess tournaments.

And of course, the 2014 ALA Annual Conference's Opening General Session featured Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. She designs alternative reality games "that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems."

I still wish I could have been there... where do you see this going, and where could it go?

I believe gaming will continue to be important and a part of everyday life. We know it can play an important role in learning - from my early experience with math skills software, to flight simulators for pilots. Games allow us to be creative and learn new things. They are also fun!

Gaming is a great way to come together as a family, friends, or a community. Libraries of all types play an integral role in fostering opportunities to come together, so through gaming programming (tournaments or even festivals) and collections that is possible. Games have the potential to bridge generations, cultures, and make the world a better place.

 

Damian Lodge (ALIA)

ALIA’s President, Damian Lodge, is similarly a man of many talents – including, I’ve just discovered, being both a rock musician and a guitar-maker! I had the pleasure of meeting Damian at the recent ALIA National Conference and discovered that on top of that and the professional achievements below, he is also a very affable chap.

Damian Lodge, is a Lecturer in Information Studies teaching in the areas of technology and management at the Wagga Campus of Charles Sturt University, an Australian university with a strong focus on rural and regional Australia with campuses around the country and over 2000 students studying Library and Information Management courses via distance education. Damian has been teaching in the School of Information Studies since 2003 and came to teaching from working in University Libraries for ten years and public libraries before that. He has a Masters in Library and Info Management and a Masters in Business Administration. He has served on the ALIA Board for a two year period (2006-2008) and is currently the President of ALIA. Damian's research interests are in library management and technology and he co-ordinates the Leadership specialisation in the School. He has written articles on staff development, organisational culture, teamwork and technology in libraries.

Thanks for your time Damian! We know it’s scarce, and we’re privileged to have you joining us too. So: what is your past experience of play and games?

I remember growing up as a kid and loading games onto my family’s Commodore 64 with the tape drive. The tape drive was a little faulty, and would chew up the tapes so the games wouldn’t play properly; even when they did work, the graphics were square blocks and the music that played was monophonic… but it was an experience! I was a fan of Space Invaders at the local sports club but I was a very ordinary gamer. Most of my friends in high school played computer games and played Dungeons & Dragons, a game my school tried to ban in the early days (which I think only made it more appealing). I didn’t play computer games in high school but did play with a few music software packages to write music, which in retrospect was still a form of electronic play. My family played board games regularly with Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit the favourites. My parents banned me from playing Monopoly against my sister due to my 'buy everything I land on and become the evil landlord' policy. My sister still won’t play Monopoly with me.

I have spent the last 25 years working in universities and the student spaces have always been full of games, with my favourite being Daytona USA. Why this game I have never understood, as I own two pushbikes and do not own a car – but the game just appealed to me! These days it’s apps, so Words with Friends is very popular and I did get caught up in Flappy Birds.

What do you see as the current state of games in libraries?

Gaming in libraries started slowly, but has really come in to its own with some great new purpose-built spaces in libraries for gaming and play. A brand new library in Melbourne – The Library at the Dock – has some brilliant spaces designed for gaming and play. It has a makerspace, gameplay zone, recording studio and a host of other spaces that really show what you can do with play and gaming in a library environment. As a musician and a guitar builder these spaces in libraries are just fantastic as I can go into the library and lay down some tracks in the recording studio using quality microphones and the latest music creation software then head to the next space and print off some guitar parts with the 3D printer. I may have to try and get a job at this library…

I also recently visited the chess collection and play space at the State Library of Victoria. Every table was in use with a great mix of people playing against each other.

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

Gaming and play brings people together. My teenage children play games with people halfway across the world. We are all connected and gaming and play allows us to become increasingly connected with people we know – and interestingly, people we don’t. I get Candy Crush invites on a weekly basis and my family can easily spend hours in the evening together playing games on the 4 laptops, 2 iPads, 3 iPhones and an android device which are all loaded to the hilt with games.

In the future we are going to see further development of these devices that enhance the user experience, with far better graphics and sound and an amazing level of interaction and immersion. I am fascinated with smart glasses and how this and other wearable technology will be developed over the coming years. Libraries and the spaces we build are adapting well and are really quite innovative. Librarians understand change and the management of change well, as this is part of our everyday work life due to the nature of our business! We are building great spaces and partnerships, and utilising new technologies to provide services that are bring new people into our libraries every day.

 

Thanks again to both Courtney and Damian for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions!

What’s Afoot, June edition: The last month in games

Posted on June 15, 2014

June is a pretty huge month in the gaming world, with the kickoff of convention season! This last weekend saw two of the biggest: E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in LA; and the Game Manufacturers' Association GAMA's Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio.

Before we dig into those, since our last post, we've also had the Games For Change Festival, which has posted videos/articles from their conference. Games For Change (among whose directors is Jane McGonigal, keynote speaker at this year's ALA Annual) are another organisation seeking to expand the field of play to more concretely constructive ends, and are well worth a look.

Origins Game Fair

Origins is home to the tabletop games industry's awards, the Origins Awards. Because GAMA is a small not-for-profit, there is a charming quirkiness to the way in which high-quality tabletop games are gathered into one place for an awards ceremony... but the information about it is sometimes kinda hard to find. The following list of nominees and winners doesn't come from the Origins Awards page, for instance, but from gaming industry news site ICv2 and geek news site Bleeding Cool respectively (who in turn got it from the Facebook page of one of the early winners, which may explain why some of the categories towards the end are missing or a little mixed up...) - and a little investigation on Twitter (thanks to Karina Shaffer, @FidgetTBC, for livetweeting the winners!) to fill in the gaps. [NB: this may be the first time they are combined on a single list! That's sort of a scoop for our loyal IGD readers, right?]

In the list below, games in boldface are the official winners, and games in red are the "Fan Favorites" for that category (which may of course overlap). Without further ado, this year's Origins Awards go to:

Best Roleplaying Game
13th Age – Pelgrane Press
FATE Core System – Evil Hat Productions, LLC
Mummy: the Curse – White Wolf Game Studio
Numenera - Monte Cook Games
Shadowrun: Core Rulebook – Catalyst Game Labs

Best Roleplaying Supplement
DC Adventures Universe – Green Ronin Publishing
Heart of the Wild – Cubicle 7 Entertainment
Transhuman – Posthuman Studios
Night’s Watch – Green Ronin Publishing
Eternal Lies – Pelgrane Press

Best Board Game
Trains – Alderac Entertainment Group
Time n Space – Stronghold Games
Space Cadet: Dice Duel – Stronghold Games
Krosmaster Arena – Japanime Games
City of Iron – Red Raven Games

Best Collectible Card Game
Pokemon Black & White - Legendary Treasures – The Pokemon Company, Intl.
Pokemon Red Genesect Collection – The Pokemon Company, Intl.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Battle Pack 2 – Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! Super Starter V for Victory – Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legendary Collection 4: Joey’s World – Konami Digital Entertainment

Best Traditional Card Game
Love Letter– Alderac Entertainment Group
DC Comics Deck-Building Game – Cryptozoic Entertainment
Boss Monster - Brotherwise Games
Clubs – North Star Games
Marvel Legendary:  Dark City - Upper Deck

Best Children’s, Family, Party Game
Walk the Plank – Mayday Games
Three Little Pigs – Iello
My Happy Farm – 5th St. Games
ROFL – Cryptozoic Entertainment
Choose One! – Looney Labs

Best Game Accessory
Krosmaster:  Fire & Ice – Japanime Games
Shadowrun GM Screen – Catalyst Game Labs
Fate Dice – Evil Hat Productions, LLC
Space Gaming Mat – HC+D Supplies
Pathfinder Battles: Skull and Shackles – WizKids Games

Best Miniature Figure Rules
Marvel HeroClix: Avengers Vs X-men Starters – WizKids Games
Battletech Alpha Strike – Catalyst Game Labs
Judge Dredd – Warlord Games

Best Historical Miniature Figure/Line
Fife & Drum: Revolutionary War -– Fife & Drum
Highlander Force – North Star Military Figures
Fate of a Nation: Arab Israeli Wars – Battlefront Miniatures
Red Army: 28mm Russian Infantry – Wargames Factory
Devil Dogs and Dragons – Empress Miniatures
Best Historical Board Game
SOS Titanic – Ludonaute
Navajo Wars – GMT, designed by: Joel Toppen
Freedom: The Underground Railroad – Academy Games
1775: Rebellion – Academy Games
Francis Drake – Eagle Games

Best Historical Miniature Rules Supplements
SAGA: Varjazi & Basileus – Gripping Beast
Flames of War: Fate of a Nation – Battlefront Miniatures
Force on Force: Classified – Osprey Publishing

Best Historical Miniature Rules
Fields of Fire 2nd Edition – Proving Ground Games
Fire and Sword – Wargamer
Chain of Command – Too Fat Lardies

Best Miniature Figure Line
Malifaux: The Guild’s Judgement– Wyrd Miniatures
HeroClix: Wolverine and the X-men – WizKids Games
MERCs Mini’s (Shock Trooper, Spy, Eagle, Beacher) – MegaCon Games

Best Game Related Publication
Khan of Mars – Evil Hat Books
Fire for Effect – Catalyst Game Labs
ICv2 - Editor: Milton Griepp
Dork Tower – Editor: John Kovalic
TableTop – Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day

Congratulations to all the winners!

(As a side note, movie buffs might like to know that Origins is also home to movie awards the Smithees.)

E3

E3 gets a lot of media coverage, so here are some starters to other reading: GameSpot's news index, and some trailers for some of the "best-looking" games in the show.

Random IGD volunteer picks:

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition looks awesome, with over 40 different endings (they said once they write about 6 novels' worth for each game!). Here's their latest trailer, too.
  • Nintendo jumps on board the metacreativity train with Mario Maker.
  • Promenade game Dear Esther's Dan Pinchbeck returns with another exploration-based game.
  • Ubisoft games Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed: Unity are looking stunning (and apparently you can ride elephants in Far Cry 4!), but have come under scrutiny for their lack of female player character models - including from series creator Patrice Désilets. A detailed recreation of Revolutionary France - with no chance for women to play a part? Hmm, maybe not so detailed after all... still, anyone who's wanted to sneak through Versailles now has the chance.
   
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