REAL PUBLIC LIBRARIAN

Friday, August 19, 2005

Gamers and Boomers

Have just read "Staying in the game: How to create environments for Boomers and Gamers in your library" which was brought to my attention by Anna from State Library (thanks Anna for your work over the years in sending these great info pointers to public librarians in Queensland). An American sociologist called John Beck is probably amongst the first to state the bleeding obvious - to quote, "he is convinced that video games are not an insignificant pastime played by spike-haired nerds but a generation-shaping activity that, over time, will reshape behavior patterns, beliefs, arts, business, institutions—the entire culture. His book, Got Game, which he co-authored with colleague Mitchell Wade, explains the impact the Gamer generation will have on society."

Man, can I relate to this. Not only am I a boomer myself, but having had kids relatively late in life, I also co-habit with a real live product of the gamer generation in the form of my teenage son. Just as my generation were "babysat" by the TV, my son first learned to manipulate a mouse at the age of two and the computer became his constant companion. One day when he was 5 we decided to conduct a little experiment - let him play on the computer as long as he wanted. He went for 8 hours without a break. By age 7, he was learning to read by my narrating "Final Fantasy" to him as he played it on the Playstation. School held little interest for him (still barely does) as it rarely intersects with his gaming world. He now regularly spends around 30 hours per week playing, making, or talking about games with flesh-and-blood friends and with "virtual" friends on on-line forums. He thinks nothing of communicating globally with other gamers, and considers many of them to be actual "friends" even though he doesn't even know their real names. He webcams with another teenager in Hong Kong, and he has been "friends" with a 16 year old in the US for two years. He also reads - if we don't have a book in the house for him to read he roams the house like a hungry animal - so the argument about kids being spoiled for reading by gaming is not proven in his case. His teachers, many being boomers themselves, find it hard to understand his obsession and are largely dismissive of it as a waste of time or distracting from his studies. His ambition is to become a game developer. But maybe the job market in this field will be a bit crowded by the time he comes along - what other job could his profound knowledge of gaming prepare him for? The article does offer up some hope for a worried parent, but only time will tell.

As for pulic libraries, again the answers offered are becoming common sense - eg create zones, cater to the differing cultures etc. Not rocket science. And because it is relatively easy and we are doing it, there is a great chance that libraries will continue to be relevant to all the generations.

5 Comments:

  • Hi Deb, my name is Hoi and I am a *struggling* MIS student at Perth. I enjoy reading your blog a lot, especially on the entries on the issues regarding public libraries. I am currently working on a paper on blogging and librarianship and recently proposed to my reference librarians to use furl.net (the online bookmarking tools) to arrange and organise our bookmarks at the reference desk’s PC but... I shall not give up!

    Anyway, I just want to say thank you for blogging as a librarian, as a public librarian! Cheers.

    PS, have you tried posting pictures at flickr.com, it has a feature whereby they will direct your pictures to ur blog (like Ivan’s Ramblinglibrarian), it was just sooooo easy!

    By Blogger Hi Hoi Hi, at 12:53 AM  

  • Thanks Hi hoi hi, it's very heartening to think that I have maybe 2 readers now! I'm sort of aware of flickr but haven't quite figured it out yet. Being of the "old school" and also working in regional Australia with little contact with other professionals, I tend to have to "teach myself" anything new and it's a bit daunting at times. Blogging so far has been great as it exposes me to so many new ideas which before I would have had to wait for something like a conference to happen. Like now I have to go and investigate furl.net just because you mentioned it ...

    By Blogger Deb, at 2:16 PM  

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