Tag Archives for games
If everything “bad” is indeed good for you, what does this mean for the world of Libraries and/or Educational organizations?
I think the answer to this question is that libraries and information organizations of all kinds need to begin the agonizing process of embracing and encouraging what may be considered non-traditional behavior in their institutions. Google has long kept their employees happy by providing free food and unlimited ping pong (among other things). Even though that is not exactly the same idea, the point remains that sometimes encouraging playful and otherwise “unorthodox” behavior can be a boon to an organization instead of corrupting it as may be feared.
An obvious example of this in the library is the use of video games to drum up an audience for some programs. Recently, of course, there were some issues with librarians playing games at work, and the jury is still out on the acceptability of that situation, but the point remains that designing programs around video games for patrons does provide a certain incentive for an audience that may not normally be motivated to visit. Or, provides a new outlet for participation for active library users that are looking for something new to try.
Of course there are right ways and wrong ways to handle a situation that deals with issues like whether or not to play pool at the office, or spend a day filming a YouTube video about your library’s new Rock Band setup. Perhaps their hearts and thumbs were in the right place, or maybe that was indeed a waste of resources. Either way, I think the potential within the library to transform some bad things into good ones, and maybe sign up a few new library cards in the process.
From what you’ve read, is Popular culture (games, tv, film) just a method to “sophisticatedly deliver stupidity”?
The ideas that Johnson presents in his book “Everything Bad is Good for You” are indeed interesting, and help to relieve some of the guilt that I expereince every time I get lost in yet another episode of A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila (yes, I did watch most of that show’s first season, and, yes, it was entertaining to watch 15 idiots run around screaming. Made me feel like a good person, in comparison). Arguing that contemporary audiences not only tolerate but crave complicated and “textured” narratives in their popular culture consumption is a warming, if somewhat problematic, thought.
Sometimes, and this is particularly noticeable with the never ending list of “reality” television programs, it does seem like a true glut of ridiculous stupidity, and moreover their delivery hardly ever even seems to be “sophisticated.” And so it is comforting to find a savior in Johnson, who argues that there is in fact a silver lining behind the reality show cloud. Or at the very least, can offer us support to spend the extra money on HBO just to get that Sunday night drama.
However, one issue that Johnson brings up is multiple threading. He argues that many threads in the story lines of television series like the Sopranos, are complicated and are a unique way of presenting content that enhances viewer engagement with the storyline and characters. However, I am tempted to argue, or at least mention, that this may also be a product of internet age’s effect on how much attention focus we as a culture can muster.
There was an article last summer in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?“, the premise of which is that the quick bite- (byte-) sized information content that we are accustomed to on the internet is actually changing our brains, and affecting our ability to process long and in-depth information. We seem to be shrinking away from the lengthy newspaper article, and instead digesting many articles in quick snippets (take, for example, CNN.com’s bulleted “Story Highlights” present at the top of their already brief articles).
Perhaps the multiple threading that we encounter in more complex TV shows these days is not a boon to our grey matter, but rather the only way that television producers can handle presenting complex content to a nation of bite-size information eaters and so-called “horizontal” Google searchers. They can’t keep us focused any other way.
I should clarify that this is just speculation, and I do agree with Johnson that modern media is providing an intellectual stimulus in many ways, and that shows like the Sopranos are head and shoulders above some trite TV of the past. But it is worth being a little more critical of the nature of that information, and how we as a culture process it. After all, somebody once thought (or still does) that those things were bad for us for a reason, and it is worth it to keep that in mind, at least until you click on the tube.
I think, hands down, I’d have to go with the Nintendo Wii on this one. No contest. PS3′s are ridiculously expensive and have hardly any good games (except for Grand Theft Auto, which, of course, you can’t exactly promote within your library) and the Xbox just sort of seems to me to be the type of gaming machine that encourages long-term single player experience. Of course, you can go online and frag your pals in Call of Duty (ahem, CoD, excuse me) but it isn’t very conducive to in-person team play.
Enter Nintendo Wii. The machine is worth buying for several reasons in the library. Not only is it comparatively inexpensive, but so many of its games are designed for in-person collaborative or competitive play. Where in Xbox live you scream at people through a headset, with the Wii you interact in a way that is unusual for a video game experience. It also has an image, because of its uniqueness, that is parent friendly. When mom and dad want to go play tennis with the neighbors, how can they say no to sending the kids off to the library (of all places) to do the same?
I guess I was supposed to talk about the research aspect, and considering the pros and cons of each system a little more in this post. But it just seems to me to be a no brainer here. The cross-demographic appeal and collaborative play elements of the Wii just seem to me to trump anything else a Playstation might have to offer. And if you’re looking for that more traditional, video game-y, single player experience, there’s still just no match for Mario.
Hapland is a great and really hard puzzle game, where you interact with a strange cartoon world by finding and clicking on different objects. As you make certain things happen throughout the world, the things that become possible or impossible shift and change. There is a correct path, but it takes good timing and some pretty serious perseverance. It is fun, or at the very least, absorbing. I found it last term at www.onemorelevel.com. Screencast after the jump.