GLLS2007: Gaming in Academic Libraries: The Why and How

Lynn Sutton, the director of the Z. Smith Reynolds at Wake Forest University, saw a gaming night as a way to reach out to those who do not come for the initial library orientations. Gaming nights was a way to reach out to new audiences. Early in Sept. to help welcome those who may not be finding a place, and fit within the campus. In addition to marketing to new audiences, it was supporting innovation and creativity and helping the library stay relevant.

Gaming goes beyond marketing due to it’s implied social networking, inclusion of complex learning theory, and library instruction. Lynn is excited about the future of libraries and gaming both in instruction and OPACs.

Giz Womack, Manager of Technology Training at Z. Smith Reynolds Library, discussed how they conducted gaming nights and tournaments. They required a sign up to play, but anyone can come and watch, eat and now even play as well. There were worries about the size of the tournament. Giz provided a list of the resources they needed to complete the games, including staff, student partners, equipment, and supplies. Giz stressed the importance of finding people on campus to partner with. Look for outdated technology that is being replaced, used outdated LCD projectors the campus was replacing. All the students brought their own equipment, and it worked. Creating a floor plan to layout where the games, system, and hardware needs to be set up. Giz is a energetic speaker and made the organization of hosting a gaming night seem much less threatening. I hope the presentation helps others feel it is possible.

ZSR library used a variety of marketing techniques to promote: emails, university calendars, flyers, word of mouth, student news paper, attached flyers on dum-dum suckers at the library’s entrance, a student created Youtube video, and viral marketing. First night was expense as a hardware start-up ($425), but events following all leveled out around $170 per event. The open game nights pull in around 50-60 students.

On their last game night, they just said “bring anything” wide variety of systems and a much wider audience. (used zoomerang for survey) Students really enjoyed seeing it on the big screen. There is a necessity to keep changing up the games and formats in order to keep bringing people together. It is important to keep stuff for everybody (DDR, Wii) in addition to hardcore.

Lori O. Critz from Georgia Tech presented their experience of gaming at the library. Used the gaming nights during the new student orientation week and it helped to create a more welcoming environment in the library and with the staff. They first started (2004) with LAN tournaments, but now they are focused on all populations. They had a great idea about lit dropping the student’s dorms. Lori provided a lot of details for their former LAN parties.

Lori identified that through these events they did gain: recognition with students, partnerships with clubs and organizations around campus, an excellent boost to their image

They have since stopped and started gaming events that include a wider scope of games (DDR, retro games, card and board games, and other events). Brain Matthews, the ubiquitous librarian, has blogged about these events before. Brain's posts go into great detail about the new focus of GT's "gaming" night.