Monday, December 05, 2005

Gaming, learning, and libraries - Opening session

Here we go!

The wireless is back up and Kathryn Deiss from MLS is on the stage. She's on to the housekeeping bits...and a schedule change!

Not as many laptops up as I figured, the back corner here has the largest concentration (aka “Blogger Alley”). There are 131 people here, a great turnout for such a cutting edge program!

I also got a glimpse of AADL's Cobalt Flux dance pads, brought by Eli. Can't wait to try them out!

We all just had a chance to totally embarrass Jenny. How fun is that? :)

Our first speaker is Les Gasser, from UIUC. Les has been teaching a class on gaming in libraries at UIUC.

(I'll need to check out the UIUC GCT Research Poster Session)

Center for computing humanities and social sciences (CHASS)

UIUC seems to be very on top of researching gaming and learning.

Les just admitted he is not a librarian (“IANAL” – I am not a librarian), that's ok Les, I'm not really either. I'm just surrounded by them and I’ve been sucked into their culture. Not a bad thing J

The library "B" model - the box of books model. A repository of information. Libraries collect & organize books (& stuff) and provide it free by amortizing the cost over large numbers of patrons and long time spans. Promotes knowledge in society.

What is challenging whether & how libraries will be able to "fly"? (a.k.a. continue to exist as they do).
-E-books -- content goes mobile
--E-books as game platforms. On screen Les has samples of E-book chessboards & checkerboards
-E-paper -- electronic signage. This stuff looks cool, its electronic flexible paper that you can download content too.
--Readius, takes e-paper and scrolls it.
--Fujitsu's digital paper is a standard paper size, e-paper. One potential use is downloadable restaurant menus.

Ronald Coase - transaction cost economics.

Information Transactions:
Copy, Transport, Translate, Collocate, Index, Arrange, Transcode, Search/Find, others } each has a cost and contributes to the cost of other activities. (Basically the cost of information transactions determines what it really costs you to get that information)
-Copying information is getting easier and less costly. The cost of copying information is below zero, you actually make money for transacting information, i.e. Google. They are making money by transacting information.

Results of these low transaction costs:
Napster, Kazaa, BitTorrent, P2P, Flickr, Blogs, Wikis, MMOGs (massive multiplayer online games), copyright conflict, filtering, “flame wars”, open source

Liabilities of the ITCs (info transaction costs):
Near Zero/Below zero costs drives consumers away from libraries – movies, radios, TV.

Many people do not think of going to the library, because of all the sources of information available now.

There is a pressure to profit from each “customer touch” (a lending transaction)

“disintermediation of libraries”?

Gaming and Libraries, in the B model. “A way to get patrons into the library”. (On the screen, Les has a picture of fly traps). We can increase circulation by “CRM”, customer resource management, by saying: “Come play games, and oh yeah we have books”. By doing that libraries maintain the symbolic status quo of their mission.

((trying to debug wireless issues)) So I missed a few slides J

((ok, more debugging..looks like its DNS releated. Might not be able to fix it for a little bit))

The “K” Model – What’s a library?
-Critical role of innovation for society

--Assimlating the new

--visiting the cutting edge

“Library as a venue of Community & Cultural Innovation”

2-5% of the population was willing/interested/able to become producers – entrepenuers – and move into the new/to shift and innovate. (the early adopters/living on the bleeding edge)

Games as:
-Ubiquitous cultural phoenomena

-Reflection of emerging culture

-Foundation of cultural mythology/transmission

--Games reach kids and shape their Myths – i.e. there are many different harry potters. All the same character, but he exists in video games, the books, the movies, etc.

A relationship must be built between libraries and games. If you look at new movies, you’ll see that almost all new movies also include related games and other materials.

Learning as: “gaining membership in a community (of practice)”. Learning is becoming a member of that community/participating in that community.

Gaming as a community. Learning games and becoming a part of the community in the game. Games like world of warcraft, guild wars (the MMORPGs) become their own communities that people learn to be a part of by participating and interacting.

Issues with gaming

-Open Systems

--Constant changes – practices, environments

--Player directied content – the player is the center of the game. Build their own modifications to games, tell stories from their experiences

--Emergent experience

--Unplanned interactions

--Cultural conflict (e.g. “Grand Theft Auto”)

--Inolving external worlds (e.g GPS) played online, but also have a real world component, geo located. Not just a fixed indoor place, but outdoor as well.

-Essential misfit with existing library structures and processes

--Libraries depend on stability of content, structure, format, and meaning --- in order to catalog it

--Control – libraries can assure the quality of the content.

--Enduring quality

The third vision of libraries – the primer: Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age”

The “I” Model, what could a library be?
-Extended placeness (virtual spaces)

-Multi-modal interacting webs of services

-immersive, persistent

-social, collective

The information environment / information organization (sample screen: Guild wars/World of War Craft). Game environments can be very sophisticated and display a lot of information to the player about the other players, chat conversations, and other happenings.

Virtual Information Systems

Wow…on screen now is a video of a virtual environment called “Cave”. The subject in the video is using his virtual controllers to manipulate the book. But instead of reading, he steps into the page and is immersed in a virtual city with kiosks that have information to help the user find stuff. In the environment, there is a mobile information service (an “avatar”) that is leading the subject in the video around the virtual city and teaching the subject about the environment.

All I can say is wow. I want one of those. The environment is totally immersive and you can interact with many objects inside it.

Wow. A totally interactive learning environment where you can step into the world and into the information you want to learn. I want one.

The “I” model for gaming and libraries

-Virtual Place extensions

-Immersions in experiences

-New venues for services

-4 dimensions of gaming: Competition, chance, simulation, vertigo (exhiliarting physical experience)

In the game “civilization”, there is an in game library; that provides information on how to play the game

What about moving library services into games?


Cost of making games, like cave?
What is cheap: Game mods. Making a mod for an existing game (like The Sims), using the supplied SDK. Mods can be made low-tech and cheap.

(Thought: what about a project to build a mod/addon for a game that has interactive library services)

Do games change how we imagine things?
Remember when music videos came out? When you see a video you are being asked to buy into it. Even though it is not your imagination, the environments can still be exhilarating.

A parallel between the way gamers are becoming active in communities of practice and the 2-5% of the population that is producing content.

The same is true with game modding, more consumers than producers. Example: File sharing, more people are downloading than sharing (via P2P networks).

Bridging the cultural gap with gaming – providing the opportunity to those that may have never had it. What a traditional role for libraries, wouldn’t you agree?

((ok that’s the end of the keynote notes))

This session leaves you with a lot to think about, more than just having simple gaming nights at the library. The future implications for library applications to gaming are very, very many. Like all things tech, this is definitely one more aspect that libraries should stay tuned to and think about how they can reach their patrons where they are.

You have patrons in games, what if the library could offer services in those games?

(Just imagine a virtual reference service staffed by librarians across the world where players could ask questions and get answers from in game characters)

Another question:
What if libraries bought software and let people try it out and explore it? Why not? Libraries already offer proprietary information in other ways (cd’s, games, etc). So why not buy software to let people try?


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