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.


  1. We did a Mario Kart tournament at the library where I did a summer internship last year. The library owned a Wii and two teens brought in their own. We used three different projectors the library had, so two of the screens were for competition play and the last was for free play after kids had been eliminated. We did a simple single-elimination tournament with expert and novice levels and the winners got candy.

    What really worked well about this program was that it attracted high school boys and middle school girls, and rather than the two groups playing separately, the boys taught the girls how to play and coached them through difficult courses. It was a really fantastic program!

    Video game tournaments don't need to be huge affairs. If you have even one gaming system and some interested teens, you can totally pull it off!

    And make sure to check out It's a great resource for learning about what gaming can do for kids, what gaming can do for libraries, and how you can make a case for gaming in your library.

  2. Phew! That Gaming In Library Course is a truly awesome resource! And I like the idea of having kids bring in their own systems and then having one system available for free play. That answers some of my questions about where I'd get the resources--thanks!