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.


Justin said...


I like that your making the conversation public and trying to grow knowledge. That's my intent as well.

I wouldn't call anything that I've posted on my blog qualitative research. In, fact much of what I blog about is a running commentary of school libraries and resources and ideas that I find intriguing. I'm not the Journal of the American Society for Information Science, and have never claimed to be.

In your recent clarification post you laud Doug Johnson for saying that there should be a selection criteria of sorts, for the inclusion of games in the school library. And, I agree with that. If you look at the packages that I put together Super Smash Bros. resides in my Secondary (grades 6-12) Cluster and I'm not advocating for it to be used during the instructional day. But, it does have value to be included in part of a gaming night, as an after school program, or any other activity that involves thoughtful planning on how the game is going to be used. See Eli Neiburgers research in the book " the Library!?"

As I stated earlier, I'm not suggesting that a Nintendo Wii is purchased and sits willy-nilly in the library for students come play shoot-em-up games or other trash, at unsupervised times throughout the day.

What I am pushing for is for school librarians and teachers to develop collaborative units of study that address local standards and benchmarks and AASL's Standards for the 21st century learner and use the Nintendo Wii as a tool to do so. This involves some heavy and thoughtful planning on the part of the teacher and librarian. When well though out, digital game based learning can be an effective way to motivate students and teach virtually any concept in a creative and relevant manner. YouTube Tim Rylands instruction on creative writing using the video game Myst. It's unbelievable how he has students captured and writing at such high levels. I'm looking to create a similar model using the Wii as a platform in school libraries.

To your point that purchasing a Wii will siphon money away from valuable book money...I agree. I've never suggested purchasing a video game console or any video games off of my budget. This is something my local consortium(OCM BOCES School Library Systems) is purchasing for the entire region (123 school libraries in all.) Their goal with the Wii, as is mine, is to try to develop best practice using it in a school library setting. If this is successful and it proves to increase student achievement, I will ask my Parent Teachers Association to completely fund the gaming console and games to use for instructional units of study and after-school for aesthetic purposes.

In a lot of ways I'm trailblazing here, so the ideas and some of the content I post seems flimsy. It takes a leap of faith and some pre-research and buy in by the reader. I highly suggest reading Marc Prensky. He has the data and teeth behind it for a lot of what drives me as an educator and school librarian.

Keep on blogging.


doug0077 said...

Hi Jim,

Aw shucks - I'm blushing!

Seriously, it is always nice to know that something one has written has been useful.

I appreciate the kind comments,


Teacherninja said...

Thanks guys. I've learned a lot from this exchange. Mr. Ashworth, you have spent more time on this than I deserve. I will now shut my yap and take my SLM courses and wait until I've learned a few more things before commenting on such matters. Thanks for the lengthy and thoughtful response.