Youâ€™ve no doubt been following some of the discussion about gaming, and how higher education responds to this massively influential societal trend. Even before the Chronicle partially covered the issue with their story about the Millennial Generation â€“ many who are gamers â€“ publications such as Library Journal devoted articles to gaming and OCLC sponsored a lengthy program about it at last yearâ€™s ALA midwinter conference, and offered some articles in one of its newsletters. That program offered the wisdom of Jon Beck and other gurus of the gaming phenomenonâ€™s impact on society and culture.
So having digested all of whatâ€™s being said about gaming, what position are most academic librarians taking? I had no doubt that there was a gaming culture among the students at my own institution. The big question for both our profession and our faculty is do we change our methods to accommodate the changing nature of our students. Should faculty seek to integrate gaming techniques into the teaching and learning process? Should academic libraries offer video game titles for loan, or sponsor video game competitions in the library? What are we willing to do to reach Generation Xbox and draw them into the library? What if you and your library staff know zilch about video games, or perhaps you see them as abhorrent wastes of times, not to mention finding the shoot â€˜em up, violent aspects of some video games to be morally repugnant. How do you respond to the video game phenomenon?
No matter how we may feel about it personally, I don’t think we can ignore it professionally. Last week, along with the Dean of my institutionâ€™s Design and Media College, we offered a program on â€œTeaching Generation Xboxâ€. Our speaker, Christopher D. Clark, developed sixteen video games, and currently develops simulations for the government. He spoke about the history of video games and current industry trends. He then explained how games are developed, and the factors that go into making a game irresistible to players. Clark stated that the best games get players emotionally involved, and he believed that educational simulations can do the same. Clarkâ€™s most memorable statement: video games and learning simulations have 30 seconds to hook the player or the player is gone for good. Once hooked however, gamers will spend hundreds of hours to master the game.
Iâ€™ve been thinking about that with respect to what happens in most campus classrooms and my own instruction. I think most of us would fail the 30 seconds test. Then again, we canâ€™t offer car chases, create war battles, put a laser sword in someoneâ€™s hand, put them in the cockpit of a fighter jet, or offer any of the many other escapes from reality offered by video games. All we can offer is a chance to learn something new to help a student successfully complete an assignment or achieve lifelong learning. It seems our challenge, in reaching Generation Xbox, is to establish methods to get students emotionally connected to our content and to do it quickly. Itâ€™s much easier to simply say â€œtheyâ€™re here and they have to learn it my way,â€ but perhaps that mentality no longer gets the job done. Iâ€™d like to know what you think. I hate to do this to you again now knowing most of you feel over surveyed, but please take a few minutes to complete this six-question survey instrument, and Iâ€™ll share the results in a future post.