Why is the American Library Association promoting gaming in libraries?
1. Aren’t libraries about books & reading?
In the 21st century, libraries are about much more than books! In fact, libraries work very hard to provide people of all ages with a rich and current menu of CDs and DVDs, as well as electronic and online resources. Video game resources and programs at the library complement these existing services. Featuring this new gaming media helps the library expand its reach while meeting community expectations.
2. Aren’t video games just a passing fad?
Actually, video games have been popular for more than 30 years. In fact, three generations have grown up with video games - Generation X, Generation Y, and Millennials. It’s not only today’s kids who are playing video games. The average age of today’s gamer is 35-years old, and Baby Boomers and Seniors are playing them more than ever before. Libraries across the country are offering family gaming nights that bring generations together for a gaming experience they can’t share anywhere else.
3. Why should kids play video games at the library?
Lots of kids play video games at home – alone, with siblings, or with friends. The library is a safe and non-commercialized space. At the library, kids socialize with their friends and play video games while surrounded by books, librarians, and knowledge. Video gaming at the library encourages young patrons to interact with diverse peers, share their expertise with others (including adults), and develop new strategies for gaming and learning.
4. What do kids learn when they play games at the library?
Video games give kids a chance to practice reading, writing, and computing in the library’s safe environment. Popular video games, the ones that kids really like to play, are immediately engaging and make them work hard to succeed and ‘level up’. While playing these games, kids are constantly developing new strategies, predicting possible outcomes, managing multiple resources, reading and deciphering maps, tracking complex statistics, and adapting to increasingly difficult levels within the game. They learn a range of media literacies be-yond basic reading that give them models for navigating our information-rich world.
Harvard Video Game Study
- Games allow teens to try on roles and behaviors in a safe environment.
- Games can provide practice in planning and anticipating consequences.
- Games may help teens manage difficult emotions (coping with stress, anger).
- Games may promote involvement in sports/exercise (boys who played realistic sports games spent more hours per week on physical activity).
- Games can improve visual/spatial skills (especially valuable for girls).
- Games provide a focus for socializing (especially for boys).
- Games may provide a source of self-esteem and pride (especially for kids with ADHD and learning disabilities).
Source: Gaming & Libraries: Learning Lessons from the Intersections by Jenny Levine
Based on the 2004 study and resulting book Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games by Drs. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl K. Olson.