This week’s assignment was way out of the box for me. I am not a gamer, nor have I had any interest in online gaming. I understand intellectually that there is a tremendous appeal worldwide for online gaming, but emotionally it has never connected for me. However, this lesson was good for me because it forced me to do something which I may never had tried on my own.
When considering which game to play (I’ve played none of the ones that Dr. Neal suggested) I thought about World of Warcraft, simply because I know it is so popular. However, I didn’t want to download it to my laptop, so I opted to go with Runescape so that I could play it online in my internet browser without having to download the game.
It was fairly easy to set up an account, and I quickly created an avatar. I was confused, though, with what the game is all about, as there were just some quick little blurbs at the beginning, and then I was thrown into the game! I decided to start walking around and see what I could learn. It was helpful to have some instructions from characters along the way, although honestly, I really didn’t know what was going on. I knew I was in a cave, and by the music playing I could tell I was in some kind of danger, but I wasn’t sure what! A couple of my kids were quite amused at my attempts, but they were helpful in making suggestions. Little did I know that to eliminate the bad guy to save myself, I had to click continuously on him until bar above him was red and he fell over. Another character then congratulated me and told me how well I had done to defeat this guy. This happened twice, by which point I was anxious to get out of the cave and see what else was going on. Okay, I admit it, I could see how people who know how to maneuver around in these games could get hooked. I did want to see how the story would continue, and I did feel like I was there. So that did give me a tiny insight into how this must be for avid gamers. I got out of the cave and was given instructions by someone (?) on what do next (go up on top of the castle and defend from there). At this point I decided I had spent enough time to say I had begun the gaming experience. Here’s a screenshot of my avatar, a farmer named Chocoana, on the roof of the castle:
At the time that I logged out of Runescape, there were 127,783 players online at that moment, and I suspect the numbers are much higher with other, more popular games. I understand that online gaming is pervasive and definitely a significant part of many people’s lives.
I signed up for twitch.tv and I’m looking forward to watching Jacob play SWOR on Monday night. This is a whole new world for me!
So what about libraries? Our library already has a successful games night, but for traditional board games. I think the reason for this success is not the games in and of themselves, although they are lots of fun, but because those nights are all about community, and playing and interacting together. It make sense to have online gaming at the library, although Dr. Neal’s point about this being a better forum for gamers to meet, not necessarily play, probably has some validity to it. I like the idea of the arcade nights at the Ann Arbor District Library. Most importantly for libraries, though, is that however we use gaming, whether it is “serious”, or whether we offer gaming on library computers, or create comfortable spaces for gamers to use, we must always remember our purpose. We are providing information, a community space, a place to learn and grow together, and gaming, if used in such a way that it meets the needs of the users, can be used successfully.