Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gaming Perspectives and Digital Natives

Did you know that gaming has been around in libraries since the 1800s? I believe many people associate gaming with video games, but gaming by definition, according to many online dictionaries, is “the playing of games, especially those developed to teach something or to help solve a problem, as in a military or business situation.”

The Library Game Lab of Syracuse University did a study in 2007 where they explored how 400 public libraries supported gaming in the libraries. In his article, Reframing Gaming, published in American Libraries, Scott Nicholson highlights this study briefly and provides librarians with a new perspective on gaming. He states that “gaming is participatory storytelling,” meaning that the creators of games weave storylines, create worlds and layout rules into a game and then allow the gamer to interact with the story.

A nationally representative survey of teens that was published this past September and done through the PEW Internet and American Life Project. This survery provided some answers to questions such as to which teens are playing games, what games are they playing, what equipment are they using, what is the social context of their play and what role have parents taken in monitoring this activity. Some findings to highlight from this study are:

- 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games
- 50% of teens played games “yesterday”
- 86% of teens play on a console like Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii
- 73% play games on a desktop or a laptop computer
- 48% use a cell phone or handheld organizer to play games
- 99% of boys and 94% of girls play video games

In one of my classes, we are exploring technology in the lives of children and reading articles and surveys, such as the ones listed above. One of our “text books,” for the class, is Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. This may be a great resource for anyone trying to understand digital natives and how we can better serve them in our libraries.

If this topic interests you, I’d be glad to update you more on my exploration of understanding digital natives. Feel free to contact me!