Thursday, September 16, 2010

Defending First Person Shooters

I'm thinking about buying an Xbox Kinect for the library. That has nothing to do with first person shooters. But I've been trying to decide exactly what I think about gaming in libraries. I'm, like, vaguely in favor of it. But I don't know enough.

So my boyfriend sent me this article about a recent study suggesting that playing first-person shooter games makes you a better decision-maker. He says there have been a number of studies suggesting that playing video games makes you smarter. But he thinks it's the other way around: smart kids are attracted to video games. I think that video games just develop different parts of your brain. It makes you smarter at some things, but not at others.

Still, the article is interesting, because it highlights the benefits of playing first-person shooters, probably the most notorious kind of video games. In similar news, Stan Lee recently wrote an open letter to the Video Game Voters Network encouraging them to resist censorship and regulation. He compares the way people are vilifying video games now to the way they vilified comic books back in the day.

Just the fact that people are vilifying something always makes me want to buy it for the library, but I obviously have a lot more thinking and research to do. I like the idea of video game tournaments at the library, a model for incorporating gaming that has been championed by Eli Neiburger (who I saw present at ALA--he was awesome). But I don't know that I have the resources.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Half World by Hiromi Goto

There are zillions of books with vaguely medieval fantasy settings, but I love a fantasy world with rough edges and a very specific purpose. Half World is just such a place. It's one of three realms, which were once connected. People passed from the realm of the living to the realm of half-life to the realm of the spirit life and then back to living in a constant cycle.

But somehow the realms were severed, so that living people were reincarnated without passing through the other worlds. Anyone stuck in Half World had to reenact their greatest traumas over and over again without every getting over them. And no one's heard from the Spirit Realm.

Enter a melancholy girl named Melanie Tamaki (Canadian-Chinese, I think?), whose mother is a vague, lifeless woman who lives like a fugitive. One day, Melanie comes home to find the phone lines cut and her mother missing. While she's wondering what to do, she gets an impossible phone call from a man with an icky sticky voice who commands her to go to a highway overpass and look for an emergency door. I bet you can guess what's on the other side.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Yeah, I'm an EA Librarian."

I'm imagining saying that to people in 20 years. EA stands for Emerging Adult, because according to a recent NYT article, what used to be "your 20s" is now a discrete neurological stage in the development of human life! Check it out:
"JEFFREY JENSEN ARNETT, a psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., is leading the movement to view the 20s as a distinct life stage, which he calls “emerging adulthood.” He says what is happening now is analogous to what happened a century ago, when social and economic changes helped create adolescence — a stage we take for granted but one that had to be recognized by psychologists, accepted by society and accommodated by institutions that served the young."
If "Emerging Adulthood" is a stage with its own psychological profile, it follows that it must have it's own literature. At least, I think. And I can even think of a few examples: