From over at Mental Floss:
Good news for all the parents out there who are worried about their kids not exercising enough. A new study by researchers at Brigham Young University and University of Massachusetts has shown that kids who play 10 minutes of active videogames, like Wii Boxing or Dance Dance Revolution, get exercise that’s just as stimulating as a three-mile walk on a treadmill. This is particularly good for kids who live in cities where playing outside is either dangerous or unpractical. Better still, the kids most at risk for obesity enjoy playing games even more than their lower-BMI counterparts.
Of course, the benefits only work if the child is playing an active title that uses the full range of motion from the Wii, Move or Kinnect systems. You can’t just sit around all day playing Angry Birds or Super Mario Galaxy and still expect to get any health benefits.
Head on over to Just a Bald Man… to read his excellent post “THE BEAUTY OF HALO”
For those parents who believe that video games have no redeeming educational value, I simply ask you to sit down and watch your child for a while – not just once for a few minutes, but over a period of time. If we take the time to really pay attention – to put down our iPhones, step away from the TV, lay aside our book – and really watch them, we can see some amazing things. Some of those things are obvious. The can learn about history, art, music, adventure, and a wide array of other things that virtually all parent views as “beneficial learning.”
Chances are, if you made it to 8bitlibrary.com, then you’re well aware of the benefits of gaming, including the development and reinforcement of various cognitive, literacy, and social skills. So the question is, what are you going to do in 2011 to enhance gaming services in your community? Our suggestion is expanding these programs to a new audience, and there is none better than children with special needs.
For complete information on the how and why of gaming for children with special needs, see the article from the December 2010 issue of School Library Journal, “Rated E for Everyone”. Then come back and check out this list of game recommendations and get a program started for this frequently under-served audience!
Card & Board Games
- ThinkFun Zingo is a fun, fast-moving matching game similar to Bingo in which players try to match up their picture card with tiles that are revealed by pulling on a Zinger. The first player to fill his or her picture card wins. This game is great because it accommodates 2 to 8 players, keeps kids engaged, teaches image and vocabulary recognition, reading, matching, memory, concentration, and encourages social skills such as taking turns, following rules, and sharing.
- I Spy Memory Game is a memory game, for 1-6 players, with riddles just like the I Spy book series, which can be played three different ways to accommodate younger and older players. This game helps young players to develop memory, reading, thinking and language skills, as well as important social skills such as taking turns, following rules, and sharing. Kids that enjoy reading I Spy books and playing I Spy computer games will enjoy this board game, which has simple rules, is easy to set up, and can be completed fairly quickly.
- Jenga is a stacking game consisting of wooden blocks that are big and easy to grab. This interactive, engaging, and tactile game teaches kids the importance of strategy and concentration, while improving dexterity and coordination. Jenga is great because the rules are simple, a game can be set up and completed fairly quickly, and requires only 1 or more to play.
- Pictionary Card Game is a fun, fast-moving card game that is played in teams as small as two, which combines the fun of Pictionary and Charades. Players race to act out the clues using only the simple images on the cards by combining them, building scenes with them or using them as props. This interactive game is great because no drawing is required, is easy to play, and improves concentration, while fostering imagination, creativity, thinking skills, teamwork and cooperation.
Sequence for Kids is a fun, fast-moving sequence game, similar to Bingo in some ways that preps kids for strategic thinking as they anticipate their opponents’ next move. This game is great because it only requires 2 to 4 players, fosters social skills such as taking turns, following rules, and sharing, and builds matching, pattern recognition, counting, and literacy skills.
- Wii Active Life Outdoor Challenge is a fitness game that will get kids up and moving, similar to Nintendo’s Wii Fit, in which players are actively engaged in a variety of 16 fun, energetic, fast-paced mini-games such as river rafting, mine-cart adventure, log jumping, see-saw, jump rope, water trampoline, and many more. Using a specially-designed eight pad Active Life mat, this game will help kids will improve their overall fitness level, sense of balance and coordination, eye-hand coordination, literacy skills (reading on-screen directions), as well as foster teamwork, cooperation, and social skills such as taking turns and sharing. (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone)
Wii Boom Blox Bash Party is the exciting sequel to Wii Boom Blox that challenges the players’ reflexes, dexterity, and problem-solving skills. Like the original Boom Blox, players use the Wii Remote to direct objects and forces toward structures made of blocks in order to knock them over. The Jenga-like gameplay requires players to pull out blocks, with the goal of toppling over as many blocks as possible, without bringing down the entire structure, and like Jenga, kids will learn strategy skills, improve dexterity, and observe physics in action. Wii Boom Blox Bash Party is great for all ages, is easy to play, and features quick games that foster teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration. (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone)
Wii Just Dance 2 is the energizing sequel to Just Dance, featuring 45 songs that can be used in four different dance modes to help kids improve their overall coordination and physical fitness levels, build teamwork and social skills such as sharing and taking turns, and work on memory, pattern recognition and following instructions. Basically, players hold a Wiimote in their right hand, and copy dance moves presented by an animated dancer presented on the screen. Just Dance 2 is suitable for tweens and teens, but if you have a younger audience, you may also want the very recently released Just Dance Kids (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone), which will contain more age-appropriate songs and lyrics targeted toward a younger age group, which also helps kids work on similar skills as noted for Just Dance 2. (ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+)
Wii Party is an interactive and engaging kid-friendly party game featuring 13 different party game modes and 70+ mini-games, which provide kids with lots of variety that includes cooperative and competitive gameplay that turns over quickly to keep the game moving. This game helps kids improve their eye-hand coordination, builds literacy skills (like Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, players can read on-screen instructions for help), and social skills (taking turns and sharing with other players). (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone)
Wii Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party is the third Wii game in UBI Soft’s popular Rayman Raving Rabbids series, and features 60+ fun, quick minigames. The “rabbids” are bunny-like creatures who communicate by screaming and occasionally hitting each other with any object that comes into their hands. The rabbids have taken over the TV stations, broadcasting a series of nonsense shows in an effort to drive Rayman crazy. Players will discover new and innovative ways to play with eight types of gameplay, which will help them improve their sense of precision, dexterity, balance, and coordination, and reading written instructions to complete the mini-games will help kids improve their literacy skills. This game also fosters teamwork, cooperation, and social skills as kids practice taking turns and sharing. (ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+)Game reviews by Peggy Wong, Children’s Services Librarian, Piscataway Public Librarypwong AT lmxac DOT org
Justin has really been killing it on here with his great posts on gaming programs, and I felt inspired to share an experience of my own.
In 2005, in my previous job as head of a public library children’s department, I had the opportunity to try out something that I suggest every public library at least try for a month, if not implement permanently. If you own a console, take out/open your TV, turn on the TV&console, and let your library users play the games all day. Whenever you are open.
The concept is simple: you allow books to be read and checked out all day. You allow your computers to be used all day. Same goes with other media; newspapers, magazines, etc… Your library spent a small but good amount of money on the console and the games, let your library users play with them! It doesn’t only have to be for programs. Similarly, open gaming doesn’t mean that you still won’t get a chance to run programs!
My experiences were very positive. I had multiple age groups constantly collaborating and sharing information in a way that is unique to the gaming medium. Users who would have in other circumstances had no reason to even speak to each other at the library are now sharing tips and becoming friends (oh, and hopefully talking trash on each other, :-p).
Open gaming also fosters a new way for libraries to include multiple age groups in activities. Public libraries traditionally segregate people based on age (“Children’s Room”, “Teen Room”, “Adult/Reference room”, in NJ we have a growing amount of libraries with “Senior Rooms” thanks to the work of Allen Kleiman et al.). I don’t think that there is anything wrong with age segregation in libraries; it HAS worked and CONTINUES to work for libraries. But there’s also nothing wrong with mixing everyone together, and in my experience with open gaming, this is THE BEST WAY to get every age group engaging / sharing information & experiences together.
In an open gaming situation (vs a set-times-for-gaming situation), I’ve found that parents/teens/seniors who otherwise wouldn’t have picked up a game are now having fun “playing” with kids/teens/parents/grandparents/babies. It’s really an amazing, unique-to-libraries experience to see a two-year-old kid playing video games with their grandparent and an 8-year-old kid they’ve never met. Where else could you see that same 8-year-old become friends with a 15-year-old? Or a 20-something couple walk in the library for a book and end up sharing a really good time with a bunch of teenagers they’ve never met before? And in a school library situation, you’ll see teachers and students engaging in a way they’ve probably never engaged before, and students will build friendships with students they may have never even met before.
Libraries aren’t only about information, they are also about valuable human experiences, and gaming is the best of both worlds: a modern information media as well as an all-ages platform for fun interaction.
You’ll notice I didn’t go over any “problems” you may run in to. It’s 2010 now and the idea of open gaming probably isn’t as “new” as it was in 2005, so I think it’ll probably be easier for you to try something like this in your library. There’s always 1,000,000 reasons not to do something; don’t let those reasons stop you from trying this. Let me know your experiences if you do this in your school / library!
Eli Neuberger, Ann Arbor District librarian and author of Gamers? In the Library?, suggested using GT System for the hardest part of running gaming tournaments, the ‘heavy lifting’ of creating brackets, points, matches. You create brackets online without the frantic scribbling on paper or on an spreadsheet. There hasn’t been a 2010 announcement of events, but contact information is found on the wiki to find out more.
GT System is a framework and a set of web tools for producing videogame tournaments of any size for players of any age or experience level. It gives you everything you need to promote and run a videogame tournament at your institution, and it allows all GT system players to see where how they stack up on local, regional and national leaderboards!
Patrons drop and add on-site to tournaments, so all the pre-game work can get blasted by surprises.
I ran a Mario Kart tournament without this system – our library had an Under 12 years and Over 12 tournament. The children’s librarians did not fully get across to some kids/parents that they were wait listed, so all showed! Had to work quick on my blank ppt to change the brackets and matches I worked on.
Also, there were going to be 4 adults working the tourney, and two couldn’t come. Left a lot of work setting up controllers, announcing brackets for one while the other worked the room, helped sign in kids, talked with parents, took photos…
I was fielding calls from college students about using cheats and their own controllers. Having played Mario Kart, I was familiar…but not the endless hours these kids had! You might just have to make decisions on the spot– just stick to them!
Eli told us that if you have elementary kids, someone will cry. I think at least three kids cried. It’s hard when their parents are there, and you want them to have fun. But competition is a fact of life, and not everyone gets the blue ribbon.
Siblings bring their own twist; I had a set of triplet boys, and two made it to the finals of 3. The great thing was the parent who told me the triplet who won was not athletic or academic, so it was a win on a big stage for him, a first.
I created certificates for the top three winners, and a gave a gift card for GameStop to the winners in each age group.
The library I’m at now has weekly teen gaming, monthly elem. level gaming, and many tournaments. I’ve offered to try a MK tourney again- loved the cheering and laughing a whole room of parents and siblings made.