April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

The Pokemon Generation | The Gaming Life

Building lesson plans around a gaming environment creates effective learning

Gotta Catch ‘Em All is the slogan for Pokémon, the most popular video game franchise of the last 20 years. In the Pokémon game series, players act as “trainers” who go on journeys to collect fictional creatures called Pokémon. As they catch Pokémon, they are mentored by wise scientists and must pay attention to all the bits of information that are presented along the way and use these facts to draw […]

Building an ARG | The Gaming Life

Alternate reality games challenge teens to use technology in new ways

Hi, my name’s Chelsie. I got this bracelet for my 14th birthday. My aunt says it’s from my parents, but the thing is that I haven’t seen them in a year. They disappeared after my last birthday. They were working on an archaeological dig and one morning they were just gone. The bracelet is the only link I have to my parents. […]

Lessons from the Trenches | The Gaming Life

Best practices for using games and simulations in the classroom

We know that educational games and simulations can be valuable tools to reach and teach 21st-century students. However, many traditional classrooms and media centers aren’t designed to support educators who want to use them. Teachers and librarians are often required to justify the purchase and use of games in the classroom. And they sometimes even ask themselves if they have successfully met their intended educational objectives when they do use games […]

The 7th Early Literacy Skill | The Gaming Life

In pursuit of gaming knowledge in the electronic age

As a children’s librarian and mother of three, I practice the six early literacy skills with children nearly every day. I sing alphabet songs, perform silly puppet shows, and read them picture books before bedtime. I also belong to the minority group of parents who champion video games because I recognize their educational value. I’ve often become excited about the possibility of training children’s librarians in Second Life. There is no question […]

Future City Competition | The Gaming Life

A hands-on challenge incorporating SimCity 4 with engineering skills

Novo Mondum, a city of the future near Reykjavik, Iceland, constructed by students from Bexley Middle School in Ohio, won the grand prize at the 2009 National Engineers Week Future City Competition™, sponsored in part by the National Engineers Week Foundation. Initially, more than 30,000 students from 1,100 middle schools entered the competition. After qualifying rounds in each of 38 regions across the country, one middle school from each area competed in […]

Games Have Stories to Tell | The Gaming Life

Storytelling can extend beyond the covers of a book

Readers become readers because they love stories. We often continue reading a book late into the night to find out what happens next. Educators recognize that great stories motivate children to read. Just look at the Harry Potter phenomenon—many young people who were never considered readers became hooked on the series of books, and in the process overturned conventional publishing wisdom concerning the acceptable length of a children’s book.

With the […]

Celebrating Scratch in Libraries | The Gaming Life

Creation software helps young people develop 21st-century literacy skills

What has a low floor, a high ceiling, and wide walls? While it could be a tricked-out RV, the correct answer is Scratch (scratch.mit.edu), a free computer program from MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group that’s changing the landscape of how young people learn programming, engage in media-based project creation, and develop 21st-century literacy skills.

There has been a slow, steady movement by schools and libraries throughout the world to adopt Scratch. In pockets […]

Gamers Are Readers | The Gaming Life

Capitalize on the popularity of video games

Libraries across the country are jumping on the gaming bandwagon, and some librarians are thrilled with this revolution. We grew up playing video games. Although these games were not nearly as impressive as the ones available today, we still spent countless hours playing the original Super Mario Brothers—and we still grew up to be librarians. Video games did not rot our brains. But that begs the question: What do video games have to do […]

Share Your Story | The Gaming Life

A little marketing goes a long way

Are you really gaming in your library? Or, perhaps, a better question to ask yourself is whether or not you are telling people that you are supporting gaming in your library. It is critical to remember that there is a difference between what you are doing and what others know you are doing. Librarians need to take ownership of the expertise that they possess and the valuable services that they provide.
     But isn’t all […]

Tabletop Fantasy RPGs | The Gaming Life

Tips for introducing role-playing games in your library

Fantasy role-playing games (FRPGs) utilize a set of rules for a group of players and a game master (GM) to create characters and tell stories in fictitious worlds that are provided in the game or created by the group. During actual play, the GM describes the surroundings and the players explain their character’s reactions to the setting.

Most role-playing games (RPGs) can be divided into two overarching groups: rules heavy and rules light. […]

Zero Budget? | The Gaming Life

You can start a gaming program without spending a dime

Video gaming is becoming more and more mainstream every day. It’s definitely an accepted part of library programming, and game clubs are becoming part of school extracurricular activities. If you want to start a program through your school library, it’s likely that your administration will be happy to approve it. However, they will probably inform you that there is no money in the budget to fund it. That’s no reason that […]

Into the Blogosphere | The Gaming Life

Communication tools for gamers and librarians

Blogs are often defined as online journals in which writers share information, opinions, and personal experiences. But blogs have a much greater potential than this definition implies. They are tools that can be used to communicate not only with family members and friends, but with millions of people around the world. In the past few years, the popularity of personal and professional blogs has skyrocketed, and gaming blogs are thriving—adding to the diversity of video […]

Shared Worlds | The Gaming Life

Where creative writing, art, and game design come together

Shouts of joy erupted from a group of teens when they were told that they were going to the local Barnes & Noble bookstore to buy Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the Twilight series (Little Brown, 2008). Were these youngsters members of a book club that met at the library or a group of diehard vampire fans? No, they were students in a World Building class called Shared Worlds […]

Connecting with Teens | The Gaming Life

Professional reading for librarians and teachers

Today’s youth are technologically savvy, and many are avid video gamers. These recently published books are great professional development tools. They offer a broad look at video gaming and provide important insight into teen culture. Librarians and teachers interested in incorporating video games into their programs and lesson plans will find a treasure trove of information, and don’t be surprised if your high school students ask to borrow these titles.


Puzzling? You Bet! | The Gaming Life

Games that give your brain a workout

For centuries, puzzles and games like Chinese Checkers and Dominoes have captivated people around the world. So it’s not surprising that the puzzle genre has been embraced by video game designers. When Nintendo’s hand-held GameBoy was introduced in 1989, Tetris was packaged along with it. In a short time, more than 30 million people became addicted to the game that requires players to arrange and rotate falling blocks. In the nearly two decades since […]

Cardboard for the Silicon Set | The Gaming Life

Board, card, and miniatures games for video gamers

There’s a new generation of innovative board, card, and miniatures games that take full advantage of the developments in game design over the past 20 years that have made video games so popular. These games have moved beyond Monopoly and Clue that most of us played as children to incorporate the strategy, role-play, conflict, and competition that make console games so enticing.

In “Teaching Through Play: Cooperative Games in the Classroom” (School Library […]

Mediatech Builds Community | The Gaming Life

A gaming center and so much more

Every day by 3 pm, all the computers at my branch of the Chicago Public Library are in use by students. They log on to play RuneScape, visit gaming Web sites such as cartoonnetwork.com and gamingaddict.net, watch YouTube videos, or check their Tagged or MySpace accounts. This is a familiar sight in libraries across the country.

Recently, there has been an explosion of journal articles and programming information regarding young people and gaming. But […]

Coming Attractions | The Gaming Life

Not-to-be-missed video games for 2008

What does the future hold for video games? You could ask Professor Trelawney, the divination instructor at Hogwarts, but she can sometimes be unreliable. Luckily, you won’t need a crystal ball to discover that there are a host of great console video games scheduled for release later this year that promise to be exciting, innovative, and lots of fun. In 2008, you’ll get to use the force, brick bad guys, bust ghosts, guide a civilization, hit […]

Circulating Video Games | The Gaming Life

The Next Step in Public Library Service

The experience we’ve had over the past year at the Guilderland Public Library in upstate New York has proved that building a substantial collection of video games is a great way to attract young adults to the library. It takes only a modest financial commitment to launch a circulating collection of video games and the return on investment is huge—teen patronage increases and the library is recognized as a total media and information destination […]

Ready to Rock? | The Gaming Life

Star in your own ‘Rock Band’

Move over Guitar Hero and make room for the new band in town. Released in late fall, teens at the Ann Arbor (MI) District Library call MTV Game’s Rock Band “the ultimate party game” and a video game that “makes rock cool again.”

One of the most talked about video games, Rock Band is a lot like Guitar Hero, with drums and vocals added, making play even more fun. According to a 2007 survey of 400 […]