This week I was a little surprised, and taken aback by the challenge to play a virtual game online. How is playing games online linked to libraries? It’s not that I’m adverse to gaming, I’ve certainly spent a lot of time procrastinating school-work by playing games online, but I’ve never created an avatar to play in a virtual world. However, I’m very happy with the challenge this week, to try to see what all the hype is about.
I had heard of Second Life before, and how libraries are increasing using it. Specifically, I remember reading about CDC and libraries. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set up a reference desk in Second Life to provide health information to avatars. I thought it was a really neat way to connect to people who may be embarrassed to talk to a health professional in real life.
However, I haven’t heard of a lot of people who joined Second Life and liked it, so I decided to join a different virtual world. I decided to play Runescape, and I am now known as Stealsand625 (you can read about it Runescape here). At first, I found it difficult to get into the game, I had trouble walking because it required a left-click of the mouse, which is awkward to do on my MacBook, but I stuck with it, and played for a little while. I started getting into the game when I found gold and was able to kill a few trolls. I can see the appeal of this game and I think its incredible how much the graphics have changed since I was a kid.
The chat feature is also new to me, and I like the ability to talk and connect with people while playing. It does give the game a new perspective, as its the ability to socialize in a unique way, and become part of a community. I think this is where it relates to libraries. Libraries is all about supporting and giving space to community groups; facilitating interaction and growth. And more importantly, as Eric M. Meyers points out, virtual worlds promote literacy, something that libraries are very familiar with.
I’m not sure how the library can actively support virtual gaming. As Professor Neal says, giving gamers space in the library counter-acts the point of virtual worlds. However, I like the idea of the ALA National Gaming Day because it shows gamers that libraries support virtual gaming and will provide access to these games.
This is such an interesting and unique way for libraries to become involved with different communities and support literacy and cognitive learning. I hope this trend continues and that libraries only become more engaged in virtual worlds.