Although my weekend in Melbourne was awesome, a teeny-tiny bit of me was off in Chicago at the Gaming, Learning and Libraries Symposium that was being held at the same time. Just check out the program to understand why.
If you want to see a nice shot of the Australian Farmer’s reading room we made in the Australian Libraries Builiding in Second Life, which is a well..umm…dunny….check out John Kirriemuir’s Off the Beaten Track slide 14 (and 23).
I was fascinated that there were quite a few presentations about gaming in academic libraries – for example Gaming in Academic Libraries: the why and how and Academic Libraries, Transformation, and Supporting Innovation in Gaming.
Very nice, I thought…can’t see it happening in Western Australia….. Then I thought a bit more.
Like many academic libraries, our library has just remodelled two floors to make a Learning Common. It is aimed at capitalising on the building as a social space – a place that creates a community of learners and provides a venue for students to hang out and (hopefully) do some self directed learning. We are opening part of it 24/7 and have soft drink vending machines, junkfood vending machines, comfy couches, a coffee shop…
Is a gaming space really so far from that continuum? During mid semester break, we have PC labs that stand empty. Would a leisure reading collection also fit in somewhere? I’ll bet our DVD collection isn’t borrowed primarily for scholarly reasons. Would it be just too hard to justify to funders who want academic libraries to be only about research? Would our funders laugh and ask when we were going to install the laudromat, the minibar and the exercise benches?
People who know how to game know a lot about human/computer interfaces. They have an intuitive understanding of how to quickly read and understand a screen. Problem solving, creative thinking, and even teamwork in MMPOGs are developed via gaming.
A buzz word in the Higher Ed sector is “engagement” of undergraduates. Although I can see that it has a pastoral element and includes lofty ideas about intellectual/community involvement, to me it equates roughly to “getting bums on seats and keeping them there” – ie. attracting students and keeping them happy long enough so that they learn something and the university gets the funding dollars that come with them.
I wonder whether providing a couple of consoles, one or two screens in a gaming corner would create a place for students to take a break and socialize – maybe making some new friends – and then keep on with their engagement in their studies.