Tag Archives: LOEX

filmbrarian

This is a spectacular summer to be a moviegoer, infofans. I cannot recall so many titles on my “go see this in the theater” list, as opposed to my typical “wait till this gets to netflix” or even the “this is an insult to what little intelligence I have left” lists. Hellboy II was highly entertaining, as I expect The Dark Knight and X-files will be as well.

On the subject of movies, while at LOEX of the WEST, I was lucky enough to meet one of the organizers, Tom Ipri, aka Tombrarian, librarian at UNLV’s picturesque Lied Library. He was probably weirded out by my introduction as I sought him out, at the request of a mutual acquaintance, like a golden retriever to a ham sandwich. He didn’t know what hit him, as I was most likely incomprehensible from the Las Vegas sunshine and breakfast buffets.

In any case, Tom does a lot in his job but one particular duty is to serve as liaison to UNLV’s film department; also, he pretty much gets to watch and evaluate all the cool and curious new films as part of ALA’s Notable Movies for Adults committee. So in addition to the summer blockbusters, Tom will occasionally have a weird and intriguing pick to share.

I’m particularly interested in Deep Water.

knowing, predicting, gaming

Fear and Loathing at LOEX

It was one month ago, fellow infomaniacs, that I made a terrifying pilgrimage, with copy of Fear and Loathing clutched in death grip, to the motherland of self-destruction and fine dining. Ironically, for a conference. Just imagine it…200 plus wide-eyed librarians descending upon the city, nervous to experiment with open bars and various things that “twitter” during the daytime to being thrown out of UFC matches and wave pools come evening time. Fear not readers, it wasn’t anything approaching, say, a Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Convention, but rather LOEX of the West, a conference celebrating the more eclectic uses of instructional technology in libraries. Needless to say, the double vision has subsided yet I am still recuperating as I write.

Gaming came up quite a bit, and a few points have been emblazoned in my mind like the Vegas sunshine. The keynote address was delivered by a very smart guy named Greg Niemeyer, who specializes in gaming at Berkeley. He talked for awhile and proposed a few ideas worth contemplating far more than the price of 3-for-1 drinks by the poolside. He listed the all necessary elements, conditions, parameters and dynamics entailed in gaming, but the biggest idea I came away with was that according to Niemeyer, “to know is to predict” and consequently “learning is training prediction“.

Niemeyer stressed how though gaming is an activity creating a “magic circle” that separates us from the real world, at the same time it creates a model of reality from which some juicy sense of embodiment, transformation, growth changes us. This dripping corpuscle, infomaniacs, is the realization that one here has actually learned something, acquired some knowledge of import. Exponentially strengthening this knowledge is the activity of interaction; the more people participating, the the greater brainpower, the wider avenue for acquisition. Zombies, a tight soundtrack and an Xbox Live account doesn’t hurt neither.

Back to Niemeyer’s main point…gaming is an activity of retention; our capabilities for critical thinking develop directly with our memory, especially when focused within our magic circle, our elven kingdom, our world of warcraftery, as it were. Knowledge occurs when we are able to predict when you need specific information, action or abilities. It forms when we come to the point in the game where the wooden crates no longer drop the zombies like a shovel, when committing to memory that lobbing grenades at the toxic aliens rather than hitting them with the assault rifle is the only way to go.

My question: if the knowing is predicting, once we learn the prediction patterns for a game, does this ultimately diminish the ending of a game? Won’t this newfound majestic boredom be the natural barrier to the anti-climactic ending we are so sure to experience when we take the time to finish the game (take Bioshock, for example, stunning game but definitely anti-climactic ending[s]!)? I guess making the prediction patterns more randomized and thereby difficult is the key to the challenge. Bigger orcs and awesomer wizardry, too.

Anyway, enlightening persentations at a fun conference. And the venue couldn’t have been more choice.

tale of two gaming libraries

Down and out at the LOEX conference, gaming was one of the main themes, or at least among the more popular themes of discussion.  How are libraries incorporating games and gaming platforms into the curriculum?  That is the burning question, infofreaks.  There were several sessions devoted to this.  Not only are libraries developing collections of games of varying formats and consoles, but few are going so far as to develop the games themselves.  Games that involve the blatant or even the more subtle inclusion of information literacy fundamentals and lessons.  I attended two sessions discussing the process of game design and creation, varying by platform and genre.  While varying in scope and delivery, both reiterated the point of being well prepared for the sheer chaos destined to ensue when even conceiving of a potential game for patrons.

First, a very ambitious project from two very ambitious designers, modders, librarians at the University of Calgary.  Jerremie and Chris over at HardPlay have taken their passion for first person shooters and melded information literacy principles into their mod of the popular Half Life 2, called Benevolent Blue. We got to play some samples of the mod, and like any shooter, us librarians reveled at the freedom of inflicting pain on patrons with delinquent charges.  Still in the development stages, they’ve done an amazingly good job of recreating the physical layout of their own library in the game.  I needn’t emphasize how important information literacy principles are, especially in a dystopian state of mind. Their question: can the FPS be a draw for learning info literacy skills?

Secondly, the library at Arizona State University at the West took a different track (thought no less ambitious), platform wise, with their game QuarantinedBee Gallegos from ASU gave a good talk about the process her colleagues went through from start to finish.  High costs, hiring programmers/designers, drafting storylines, the whole sobering ball of digitized loathing involved.  The storyline revolves around a viral outbreak affecting the campus and the intrepid hero, Axl Wise, who must research her way out of the mystery.  Created via flash, this game visually approximates the genre popularized by titles such as Animal Crossing.  Not as action packed, but perhaps with more instructional focus.

It’s no surprise these types of games were undertaken by larger libraries at larger institutions, but suffice it to say, owning a gaming collection for students is one thing; creating a game for the curriculum is another.  Ya need a big-time plan, programmers with time to give, geeks with fortitude and a lot of thinking space, and most of all, the time and money to move forward.  And who knows how it will be received or even played? An enviable and admirable endeavor nonetheless.