Gaming as Social Interaction

As a result of the comments from the AZ State University Gaming project presentation, I’ve thought about my experiences growing up at the arcade. Gaming in the arcade was a social experience. I was reminded of this yesterday upon walking into the arcade here at the hotel. Suddenly memories of my childhood came rushing back at me. Playing the games, like The Simpsons side scrolling brawler, now make me realize one key fact:

I didn’t sink dozens of quarters into these machines because the gameplay was good, I did it because the experience was fun.

We shared the experience with friends and strangers alike. Quarter after quarter we came back for more. We played the game through with people standing next to you, commenting, condemning and commending along the way. Under this model, even single player games were a community experience.

But the question is, how can we adopt that social experience for library video games? The AZ State librarians were discouraged about the initial feedback (but thankfully they are still moving forward). George Washington’s Muckrackers game and staff are discouraged as well. GW was trying to make the game multi player, which is an excellent idea, but costly in terms of creation. The development time and money that is required to develop a multiple player game raise the barrier of entry for libraries. And that does not even take into consideration the logistics of administering to our students.

So in the short term, increasing reflection discussion time and promoting conversations throughout the game can promote that social experience for our students. Gamers are not silent people. We just need to tap into that natural desire to share and critique during gameplay into to create that social feeling of community.

Library games may never give players that same feeling that sinking quarters with friends at the arcade. But we learn from those experiences to engage our students more fully in gaming and learning.


Chris said...

Your comments reminded me of a quote from Literature Review in Games and Learning, Kirriemuir, J. (2004)

"An early study (Greenfield 1984), for example, argued that half of all young people who spent time in video games arcades weren't actually playing games at all - rather they were using the arcade as a social gathering space." (pg 15)

I was never a big arcade guy but I remember several long nights of SEGA NHL hockey tournaments with a half-dozen plus others...