August 5, 2008

Gaming Clarification

I love Doug Johnson and I'm not afraid to say it. My last post, on gaming in the library, was obviously reactionary. As I told him in the comments on that post, if it has anything to do with the library then he's thought it out better than I probably ever will.

Here's a link to an article he published in support of games in the media center.

See? See how much more thoughtful and considered his piece is?

So I need to clarify.

Doug's list in favor of games is spot on. He also points out one of the major pitfalls:

Let’s be clear that there are games and there are games -- just like there are
movies and there are movies; there are books and there are books. Games vary
widely in type -- from first person shoot em’ ups to skill attainment tutors
with complex management programs. Games vary in taste, rating, maturity level,
and even factual accuracy. The question shouldn’t be “Do we permit students
to play games?” but “Which games should we allow our students to play?”
So there has to be criteria. I'm not against Sim City here. I'm quite certain that was the kind of complex and thoughtful software Scott McLeod was discussing in this post. I was unfair to him.

But the research that Justin Ashworth posted on his blog just didn't grab me. Super Smash Bros.? C'mon. Yet again, I was being reactionary. It was due to our media center's wildly slashed budgets. How can we be talking about games when we can't buy enough books? But that is my problem and not Mr. Ashworth's and no reason to trash his work.

My points about buying the game systems themselves still stand. It's one thing to buy software for the media center computers, it's quite another thing to buy a Wii system for an elementary school. These units are not cheap and will be obsolete quickly. I'm sure an argument could be made for the Wii Fit, but I doubt it would be a good one when we have a PE Coach and a big playground.

I'm not at all against a local public library buying a Wii or other gaming platforms. I used to play games at my local library with my friends on an Apple II back in the day. I believe that would bring more kids into the library (which is much harder than getting them into a school media center) and would even go so far as to encourage that practice.

I just wanted to point out that there is a ton of solid research showing that we need more books and time to read and that should never come second to the games and certainly not to buying expensive gaming platforms.

Keep the comments coming on this interesting aspect of media technology and keep my feet to the fire. This is just the kind of response I need to help me as I navigate the research for my own School Library Media degree.