…with your awesome assistance…
We in the library <yawn> conference land can gain to learn from the unique panel proposal process at play over at SXSW, sure it takes some coordination and work, but man – does it ever get the community involved, and get people riled up for the conference MONTHS in advance.
Case in point: “They stopped coming?”: Librarians Don’t Cry They Re-View panel proposal
We don’t need to replay all the library X.0 cliches, but we can roughly agree that there are plenty of amazing and radical things about libraries that the public/industry/internet has forgotten about – or at least has slid out of the radar. So here’s an example of taking action in a variety of ways, including cross-pollinating info-related conferences/festivals on the kick-ass-librarian’s agenda. And being good information inseminators, we can bring back the good components to put into play within our own field.
So, go on, take a look at the proposal above – give it a vote if you like it, and toss in a comment about what you’d hope to see, and how you’d like to get involved (they don’t call it INTERACTIVE for nothing). While you’re there, poke around and see what other panel proposals strike your fancy….then we can start ruminating about getting a similar process going within libraryland conferences too – hmmm?
Sooooooo we did get a bit sassy with the write up. If you need some help deciphering, this may help: dating acronyms
I got really excited when I got an email with an 8bitlibrary.com Retro Gaming Day press release in it! Big shouts to our own MaMcGinley & RedheadFangirl for setting this all up. Hope to see some of our readers at the event:
Saturday, September 11, 12 – 4 PM
The 8bitlibrary.com Retro Gaming Day
The first ever Retro Game Day will be conveniently located in central NJ at Piscataway Public Library! Cool panel speakers on retro games, and open play on old school platforms like SNES, Gameboy, Xbox! From Pac-Man to Mario to World of Warcraft, learn and play with the 8bitlibrary.com bloggers and librarians. See you there!
Piscataway Public Library
500 Hoes Ln, Piscataway, NJ
On June 23, the Piscataway Public Library was cloaked in silence. Not the regular kind of library-silence. Silence, as people sat on the edge of their seats, hoping and praying. The silence suddenly erupted into yelling, clapping, and cheering. The U.S. had just scored a goal in the 91st minute to gain a victory that sent them into the next round of play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But as far as I was concerned, the real win was for the community of Piscataway.
Coordinated by the director, James Keehbler, the Library hosted its first ever World Cup event. At around 9:30 am, I stood in the back of a room packed full of 60 plus jersey-clad people of all ages. The far end of the room featured a large movie theatre style screen displaying ESPN. There was a buzz of excitement in the air that this building just wasn’t quite accustomed to. Was I really in a public library?
In addition to screening the all-important group C match, the Library also arranged for the local women’s professional soccer team Sky Blue FC to join in the fun. Sitting with kids from the community, the team watched the drama unfold, and signed autographs for fans during halftime. During the break in play, I watched a young girl wearing an “O’Reilly” jersey talk to none other than Heather O’Reilly (two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of Sky Blue FC) and the full impact of this event really hit me. I don’t know what they were saying to each other, but I had a feeling the young soccer fan would not forget this day any time soon.
Piscataway is an incredibly diverse community, and the demographics have changed considerably in recent years. The room was packed with people young and old, and reflected a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. But on June 23, none of that seemed to matter. For one magical morning, regardless of where we were born, or what language we spoke at home, the only country on our mind was the United States of America.
June 9, 2010 TOPIC: How can libraries get video game publishers more involved and interested in the video gaming in libraries movement?
9:44 AM 8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!) http://www.facebook.com/8bitlibrary/posts/107242202657119
10:45 AM jlborgerding: RT @8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!) http://www.facebook.com/8bitlibrary/posts/107242202657119
11:35 AM LibrarianJP Today at 4PMest is the #libgaming chat, but with everyone tweeting about the #FailWhale, I wonder how it’ll work out…
15:57 PM cranburypl: RT @8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!) http://www.facebook.com/8bitlibrary/posts/107242202657119
15:58 PM baldwind1976:RT @8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!) http://www.facebook.com/8bitlibrary/posts/107242202657119
16:01 PM infogdss29: Great prompt: #libgaming
16:03 PM infogdss29: We need a “best games for libraries” award and/or selection list, to encompass all types of games… #libgaming
16:04 PM nnschiller: #libgaming What do libraries have to offer game publishers? Marketing? Publicity? Eyeballs on their products?
16:05 PM finksbrary: Thanks to @argn for the nice article about our summer project http://www.argn.com/2010/06/local_summer_reading_arg_the_mystery_guest/ #libgaming #arg
16:06 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming This is my “call to arms” post on @8bitlibrary to publishers. http://blog.8bitlibrary.com/2010/06/04/dear-nintendo-an-open-letter-from-8bitlibrary/ I just want to light a fire under our ass
16:10 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming I think we need to form a knife and gently put it to the throats of the publishers. WE’RE HERE FOLKS. WE LOVE YOU
16:11 PM jlborgerding: I think having an award and reviews in prof journals would get the word out gaming is serious in libraries and not a fad #libgaming
16:14 PM LibrarianJP: More important than having these ideas on #libgaming is IMPLEMENTING them, & w that in mind, Ill be talking to publishers in next few months
16:14 pm kimberlyhirsh: Activision Corporate Citizenship http://www.activision.com/index.html#about|en_US|type:community #libgaming
16:16 PM LibrarianJP: (off #libgaming topic) hope to see you all the ALA Open Gaming! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128333280524640
16:19 PM Jessican_DC: RT @JustinLibrarian: #libgaming This is my call to arms post on @8bitlibrary to publishers. http://blog.8bitlibrary.com/2010/06/04/dear-nintendo-an-open-letter-from-8bitlibrary/
16:22 PM kimberlyhirsh: I think we need to approach publishers w/specific proposals. #libgaming
16:24 PM jlborgerding: I keep forgetting the #libgaming tag! :P Yep it’s a Hump Day.
16:28 PM nnschiller: #libgaming What do libraries need from publishers? What would benefit our users most?
16:37 PM kimberlyhirsh: Seems to me we’re looking at different actions: 1) Specific projects in libraries 2) Awards 3) Scholarly publishing #libgaming
16:47 PM JustinLibrarian #libgaming Sorry to run, but I’m so out of steam that I’ll start babbling soon and not make much sense. Love you all hearts and good stuff
17:03 PM jlborgerding: #libgaming Thanks for the chat this week. It was great. I’ll see everyone in 2 weeks! (at a conference next week). Go gamers! :)
17:04 PM ulotrichous: Sorry to miss #libgaming today, but here’s my 2¢: Focus on Marketers and PR firms, not publishers or devs. Most don’t do their PR in-house.
When we think of music games, we usually think of the Dance Dance Revolution, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero franchises. These games have been staples of library gaming programs for almost as long as there have been library gaming programs. They all have tremendous social benefits: DDR was getting gamers off the couch long before Nintendo ever put the Balance Board under our feet, and the Rock Band and Guitar Hero series’ have brought music, gaming, and even role-play together while promoting both classic and indie rock.
There’s a problem with these games, however. They’ve gone stale. DDR all but died out after Guitar Hero caught fire, and neither Guitar Hero nor Rock Band have offered much of anything new in their most recent incarnations. True, both Activision and EA have offered new music for download that gamers can use with their respective franchises, but that’s about it. This is great for casual gamers who just want to hang out and enjoy some music while experiencing some degree of interaction, but hardcore gamers (such as myself) have moved on.
True, with a library gaming program, you’ll always have patrons who have never played a music game before; there will always be an audience for anything. But what about your most enthusiastic gamers? What do you do when the teenage boys who crash the doors get tired of Rock Band?
Why, you expand, of course! There are some music games out there that offer the same boons as the more familiar series’ but serve up some fresh game play.
DJ Hero was released late last year. It received generous reviews,but was something of a commercial flop. This has led to Activision, the game’s publisher, being less than supportive when it comes to downloadable content. It’s a shame, really, that this game didn’t get set any sales records; that means there are a good number of gamers missing out on a great experience. Instead of a guitar or drum kit, gamers get a controller shaped as a DJ turntable. The basic game play is the same: press the colored buttons in time with the on-screen display. However, the techniques that DJs use–scratching, sampling, crossfading, and rewinding–are thrown in to spice things up and encourage gamers to get creative. Noticeably more difficult, but also packed with much more personality, than any previous music games, DJ Hero makes incredible demands on a gamer’s dexterity and situational awareness, requiring almost as much raw skill as the most intense shooters. Of course, there are multiple difficulty levels and game play modes (including one that uses a guitar controller for some DJ/guitarist duets), so there’s no need for novice gamers to be intimidated. One thing I really like about this game is its music selection: the soundtrack is comprised of mash-ups of popular songs spanning numerous decades and genres. It’s available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Playstation 2. It might be a bit pricey, but imagine a DJ battle at your next library gaming event.
This is a game that is just plain fun no matter how you look at it. Like the great video games of the past, it is inherently simple, rewards success while allowing for massive failure, has a clearly-defined goal, and–despite its repetitive nature–never gets old.
Developed independently by Dylan Fitterer, Audiosurf uses your music collection to render its levels. You select the song from your hard drive or external storage device (it supports any non-DRM protected format), and from that song the game engine will create an obstacle course. You then pilot a ship down that obstacle course, avoiding gray blocks while picking up colored ones. As the music intensifies, so does the obstacle course: gray blocks are more frequent, while colored blocks are worth more points. There are multiple ships to choose from over three different difficulty levels, and the game comes with some tracks, should you find your digital music collection lacking.
Audiosurf is available for PC either through the Steam online marketplace. If you want it on multiple computers, you’ll need multiple Steam accounts (which are themselves free) and buy a copy for each account.
If Audiosurf is inherently simple and approachable, Beat Hazard is one for the hardcore crowd. An intense experience in both difficulty and presentation, Beat Hazard shares many of the same features as Audiosurft–including using the music from your digital collection to render its levels–and thus many of the same social benefits. Except where Audiosurft is a delightful experience in discovering music, Beat Hazard is a brutal test of skill, timing, and coordination.
As with Audiosurf, the more intense the music, the more intense the difficulty. Norwegian black metal will generate a more difficult game play experience than easy listening. However, the difficulty seems to revved up all over the board in this game; you would think The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” wouldn’t be that intense of a song, but it produced a tricky level in Beat Hazard.
Beat Hazard’s main differentiation from Audiosurf is that it’s not a racing game, but a twin-stick shooter (also called an arena shooter). I highly recommend a wired Xbox 360 controller for this game (you can hook it up via USB to your PC) as it’s built for this kind of game play. You use one joystick to move a spaceship through the 2D space while you shoot with the other stick, the ship shooting in whatever direction you aim. This makes it possible to move and shoot in two different directions–handy when you’re weaving in and out through waves of enemies. If an enemy touches you, you lose a life; lose all of your lives, and it’s game over. You’re given two screen-clearing bombs to help even the odds, and you can earn additional lives and bombs.
Also different in Audiosurf is an XP (experience points) system. You earn XP for shooting down enemy spacecraft and pulling off high-risk moves; you earn bonus points for surviving for an entire song. Accumulating enough XP will unlock rewards to help you accumulate even more XP.
Beat Hazard is presented with incredibly good graphics; strobe effects, huge explosions, and starships that fill the screen couple with your own music to create some truly memorable gaming moments. A recent update to the game gives gamers the option of removing the strobe effects so that people sensitive to such can still play and enjoy this game. It’s available through Steam, so the same DRM apply to it as do Audiosurf.
So what now?
You’ve downloaded Audiosurf and Beat Hazard to a few gaming PCs in your library, and you’re all set for a DJ battle in your multipurpose room. Use this opportunity to reach out to your teens. Set up a display of books on music, famous musicians, careers in the music industry, and fiction relating to DJ and rock star culture. Load some classical music onto the PCs that have Audiosurf and Beat Hazard to show the participants just how intense (and how much like popular music) classical music is. And don’t forget the opportunities for social interaction and inter-generational gaming. It’s easy to imagine teens trying to outdo each other with this game, playing the same songs and trying to rack up higher scores–or challenging each other to their own favorite music. Allow adults to bring in the music they enjoyed as youth and compare the kind of stages the oldies and classic rock render compared to today’s pop hits.
These games, especially Audiosurf and Beat Hazard, are a great way to demonstrate how gaming helps us interact with our favorite works of art on a more personal level: I really liked the Black Crowes, DragonForce, Metallica, the Smashing Pumpkins, Slipknot, and Dinosaur Jr. before, but I really like them now, as they are tied to my favorite hobby, and I’ve visualized their music in a real, interactive way. I can’t help but listen to a new song without imagining what its Audiosurf or Beat Hazard level would be like. The chance to experience music in an interactive way, and thus discover a new appreciation for it, was one of the things gamers praised about Rock Band and Guitar Hero, except for now they’re not limited to what EA or Activision is able to get a licensing deal with; any music they own can be used in the game. It’s mind-blowing at just how much musical education and appreciation can be launched with these games.
Of course, you’ll want to be careful with ripping music to the computer for in-game use; it’s easy to break copyright law, so delete any songs from your hard drive that are not taken from CDs owned by the library after your program to stay on the safe side of the law.
And by the way, don’t get rid of your DDR, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero collections. You can never have too many games, and you can never have too much music.