Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gaming in Libraries: Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library – “Implementing Gaming Applications in Libraries”

Ok. If you read nothing else of my notes on this. Read these. Read all the notes on Eli's presentation. AADL is doing this right and they are doing it BIG. The important point is that they started small and it took off.

Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library – “Implementing Gaming Applications in Libraries”

Eli, is the man when it comes to gaming in libraries. I got to spend a lot of time talking to Eli last night during the tournaments and at dinner. He is a very cool guy and is willing to share what has worked and has not worked for AADL.

His presentation is the true application of what we have been talking about since yesterday.

Why Videogames?
$11 Billion/year business
Fundamental Component of the “Modern Media Appetite”
A new format libraries should not ignore
Boys! 95% of teens boys play videogames.

To circ, or What?
MARC Records
Intense Competition (against video game rental services)
Kiosks and “The Bun” – Gaming kiosks in libraries will have “rules” vs. kiosks at other places where there are no rules.
Quote of the day!!
“If you have to tell your board you want to do gaming, then they are micromanaging you. You should be able to tell your board you are doing gaming. Its just another format for a library program.” –Eli
Establish a brand
Brand your gaming events separately. Call it something different, so you can label it and brand it.

AADL has tournaments:
Super Smash / Double dash
Dance Dance Revolution
Kids’ Kart
Adult Kart and Super Smash

You can’t try one program and give up if attendance is low. Just keep doing it each month, you can use the same program over and over, but as it gains popularity it will draw more and more people.

One parent commented during last season’s DDR tournament: “Did you know this is the first time all summer he has been out of bed before 11?”
(Imagine drawing kids to your library like that.)

AADL – has not had any complaints from parents about these events.

Their tournaments have age brackets, ex. Grades 1-5 have a Mario Kart tournament.

Libraries have lost the 20 something generation. We need to work on targeting their kids and get them into the library. To change their view of libraries and services they offer.

”If you do not offer them something of value now, you will be irrelevant to them for the rest of their lives”

Libraries must stay relevant. It is important to draw them to the library during their formative years to leave that impression on them about the library.

Gaming events can be a core service, just like story-times.

Once you buy all the equipment, you can reproduce events over and over at a low cost.

“There’s no bottom line for us (libraries). All you have to do is not spend more than you get.” –Eli

Why Mario Kart?
Consoles have an advantage over PC games because the set up is much easier. Usually there is no configuration of IP’s, servers, etc. Also, if you do PC games, especially MMORPGs, you are not adding any social dimension to the game. Those games are social.

Consoles, however, the social dimension comes from playing the game with more people than they could at home. (Home they could have up to 4, but with a network you can link up to 16 consoles [if you have the resources]).

Also with PCs, many games have very high requirements for the processor, memory, etc. So it makes it very hard to play the latest games.

Ideas: Collaborative story events where people come in and tell stories about their adventures in MMORPGs.

Why Nintendo? Their games are some of the “best on the market” for all ages. They are competitive, and fun.
(Using the ESRB ratings to choose age appropriate games)

Why these games?
Game Cube – 3 games use LAN mode, best one is Mario Kart, plays up to 8 players
Super Smash Brothers – no multiplayer, but very easy to do tournaments
Both these have high replay value
Dance Dance Revolution – about 50/50 boys & girls

Super Smash / Double Dash
6 month season
6-hour tournaments
Single Player and Team Events
Sur-Prize Round (A different game each time)
$70, $50, $30 giftcards
Clan Play (organized teams) and Leaderboards
Championship Prizes: PSP, iPod, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Gameboy Advanced

Competitive, Collaborative, and Creative.

Consider setting up the equipment once, and doing a weekend worth of events.
(Check out their blog @ http://axis.aadl.org/)
AADL uses the website and blog to keep kids interested in the “off season”. The kids can sign up and leave comments.

They also use it to show the leaderboards.

(By tying all this together, the kids get a sense that they are a part of something bigger. It becomes a part of their life and something they look forward to)

Running a Tournament
Open Play
Build Brackets
Qualification Rounds
Keep Score
Serve Food & Drink (if you do DDR, have water!)
Elimination Rounds
Finals and Prizes
Minimum 2 staff, scorekeeper & m.c.

Above and Beyond
(add these to the event to make it even more valuable to the players)
Play-by-play and color commentary (they choose contestants to provide commentary to the events. How cool is that?)
Project a cube, a camera view, or both (a spare console that you can use to show a view of the game)
Televise (or webcast) it Live! (Ok..so I’m totally sick. They broadcast their tournaments, LIVE, to cable TV)
Make it a season
Track statistics
Open Play and tournament weekends.

Doing it on the Cheap
Find geeks to help and get teens involved
Have attendees bring their own equipment
Partner with Schools and Nonprofits
Free & Low-cost promotion (post DDR tournaments to places like ddrfreak.com, etc)
Get several events out of a setup

Selling it to the Brass
Popular with parents
Make your library a focus of their interests
Get boys in the door
Guaranteed to induce gasps (When was the last time you told middle schoolers dropped their jaws when you told them about a library program?)
Promote core services to a tough audience (not just on their own, but by promoting the gaming events, they will find out about the other services you offer)
Games are not all “prostitutes and gunplay”
They’re going to be taxpayers someday
Not just for teens
(Tip turn off lights! Kids don’t want to be reminded of school, make it dark like a basement)

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At 12/07/2005 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They’re going to be taxpayers someday"
If I hear that phrase one more time, I'm going to hurl. No adult taxpayer looks back on their teenage years for guidance on how to vote on issues. This "future taxpayer" concept is the most bizarre thing to come out of libraryland in years. I did not have video games in my library when I was a teen...does that mean I don't support the library now? NO! I became a librarian! I played video games as a kid, I loved them. But I don't vote yes or no on library bond issues by harkening back to my teen years for advice.

At 12/07/2005 2:20 PM, Blogger Chris Deweese said...

I think the point Eli was making was not that Video Games = Library Support, but GOOD LIBRARY PROGRAMS = LIBRARY SUPPORT.

The other side though, is that we have to figure out how to reach those teens and twenty somethings. They have everything they need technologywise (for the most part) in their homes. They have the buying power to buy books.

Presenting social library programs can draw a crowd to the library that normally would see no benefit from going there.

So don't see this as just games in libraries, but targeted programs to reach those groups that otherwise don't see much value in coming to the library.

Easy for me to say, yes. Of course, I am not in a public library situation. But I have a global picture of the LCLS members and, as a twenty-something, I will be honest. I don't use the library as much as I could.

And I can tell you, no one else that I went to school with saw the library as a place to go.

As Eli said, this type of program is no different than a story type, its just a different format. It's more social and it involves something that this age group has grown up on and is very interested in.

At 12/07/2005 3:46 PM, Blogger The Shifted Librarian said...

I would also add that you used the library, which gave you a positive connotation for it, which is why you considered it a viable career and why you support it. That's a relationship you may not have with other institutions (eg, the park district, a local college, etc.).

The point of the phrase "they're your future taxpayers" is that if you don't establish that same type of relationship with them now, you most likely won't be able to offer them anything as an adult. They simply won't consider you as an option (as George Needham noted at the Symposium, we're already #7 on the list for information, and that's a core service for us!), and they certainly won't want to expend their money on your referenda if they don't care about you.

As Chris noted, it's not about video games, but about connecting with your audience through THEIR needs, not ours. In a larger context, that means using IM because it's becoming an important method of communication. It means better catalog interfaces because that's where our content is. It means RSS to get our content out to other places where our users are. And in the case of the symposium, it's about providing community and service for an activity that is important to a large - and still growing - segment of the population. In this case, the population that is larger in numbers than the Baby Boomers and who will help determine your future financial situation.

At 12/07/2005 6:24 PM, Anonymous eli said...

We really don't have a problem with people who decide whether to vote yes or no on library bond issues. The problem is the people who don't even care that the library is on the ballot. We're not doing these events in the hopes of some future return on election day.

We're doing this because when a majority of a generation or two thinks that your enterprise is irrelevant to their lives, your long term prospects are probably not so good.

Also, Chris, I said about the board that "if you have to ask your board if you can do a videogame event, they're micromanaging you. Tell them you're going to do a videogame event. It's just not that different from what we've been doing for years."

...or something to that effect.

At 12/07/2005 9:31 PM, Anonymous pbh said...

It's sort of a weird discussion b/c it's not entirely true that teens aren't "taxpayers" -- somebody is paying taxes for them, right? It's not like they exist for "free."

IMO, the Library should serve teens and respect what they like because we value teens and their place as an audience we serve -- not just b/c they will be adults someday. But, don't know if that will play well with the powers that be...

At 12/07/2005 9:33 PM, Anonymous pbh said...

It's sort of a weird discussion b/c it's not entirely true that teens aren't "taxpayers" -- somebody is paying taxes for them, right? It's not like they exist for "free."

IMO, the Library should serve teens and respect what they like because we value teens and their place as an audience we serve -- not just b/c they will be adults someday. But, don't know if that will play well with the powers that be...


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