Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gamer Ethos

I just read another article from the September-October 2006 issue of Library Technology Reports called "What Librarians Can Learn from Gamers."

I have tangentially heard of the phrase "gamer ethos" and wanted to know more, this article helped me understand what is meant by this a little more. This article focuses not so much on the how-to's of bringing games into libraries, rather the atmosphere required to do anything new and creative in libraries. Librarians should embrace the gamer ethos. This involves an atmosphere where they can implement, evaluate, and improve new services through trial-and-error. Where there is no punishment for failure, knowing that failure can sometimes turn into success (probe, hypothesize, reprobe, think). Where librarians turn to others with expertise when needed (including patrons), and are flexible to adapt to changes. They absolutely cannot buy into the "status-quo" culture that prevails in so many libraries.

This is interesting because I just attended an ACLCP (regional association) meeting about fostering creativity in the library. This included instructions on shaking up the status-quo, brainstorming correctly, and focusing on what you're doing right rather than what you're doing wrong. Much of what we have to learn from gamers was covered in the presentations, though not in the context of video games.

George Needham gave a speech at Gaming in Libraries in 2005 that offered librarians suggestions on "adapting to the world of gamers." One suggestions intrigues me, and that is to "provide shortcuts (like a strategy guide) rather than just training." I definitely want to come back to this suggestion in relation to bibliographic instruction. If we could only familiarize ourselves with the walk-throughs and cheat sheets that gamers write for each other and model our class handouts after them... ideally getting students to create such things for each other (even more ideally, with the same kind of enthusiasm). I'm not sure how much different these walk-through-like handouts would be, but perhaps it could make all of the difference.

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