Running into the semester

Wow, what a fast week. We started the spring semester on Tuesday and it feels like I've been running since. Actually, it feels like I've been running since the new year. Running isn't a bad thing, actually I thrive on it. But sometimes it's okay to step back.

I've developed a nasty blogging habit of starting a post and not getting back to it on the same day. I started a post on Monday because I wanted to preview the semester, but as I was writing my 18 month son climbed up in my chair and kept repeating, "Games, games." And really how can I as the "video games are good for you" guy say no. And so they played and I watched... and learned.

Video games are a social interaction, or at least they can be. Over the past week, I've had two good conversations with local librarians about the social nature of games and game players. We are not just playing games for hours on end, in our basements, staring at a screen, alone. Since this is the week of the new World of Warcraft (WOW) massive multi player online game (MMPOG) - at least we are not playing alone. 8 million monthly subscribers to WOW, means that as a player you are not alone. Even progressing beyond level 20 in the game is not possible without others.

More and more, video games are a social experience. PC gaming is dominated by gamer to gamer interactions through the games. The XBox 360 Live features connect gamers from anywhere. Players join not just for the freedom and control, they join for the social interaction as well. Granted like any group interaction, everybody contributes something different. But the creation and enjoyment of the social community is a draw. MMPOG's are group projects that our students want to be part of. There is no worry about someone not pulling their weight within an MMPOG, the alternative is game death. Our students can live with those game consequences because the goal that they are working toward is desired. The goal is worth the struggle.

There are education pieces and contributions that we, as librarians, can and should take part in. We need to help find ways to tap into that social enjoyment, if we can create or utilize existing social spaces to foster this sense of social interaction. We will be better off. I'll return to this post tomorrow and talk about a few ways our library is doing that.