Posts tagged education
As the first title for the Nintendo 64 system, Super Mario 64 changed the way we look at games. Up until this point, games had been mostly a two dimensional affair, with some lame attempts at immersing the player in a larger 3D having entered the video gaming fray. It wasn’t until Super Mario 64 that we learned just how much fun it is to run around everywhere in a game instead of just usually going from left to right.
Play a game like Banjo Kazooie or the Jak & Daxter and then play Super Mario 64. Notice anything? They all share similar game play. Your view is from behind your main character and you’re in a 3D rendered world. This “style” of game was created by Super Mario 64. The first time you fired up this game on your Nintendo 64 was the first time you ever played anything like this and let me tell you having experienced it first hand, it was a pretty amazing moment.
These days, these types of 3D platforming games are a dime a dozen. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. There is an excellent selection of titles just like this out there that will provide hours of enjoyment. Super Mario 64, being the first 3D platforming game, brings a unique scenario to the table. Through this title, we can understand how the 3D platforming game has evolved over the years and see just how much influence this one particular title has had on the gaming industry.
These things about stood out to me as I recently replayed the Super Mario 64:
It may be a hard thing for younger students to grasp, but this game was one of a kind when it first came out. Explain the history of the Mario series and how it evolved from 2D to 3D. Emphasize just how much of a change it was going from Super Mario World to Super Mario 64. With those ideas established, then have your students look at other 3D platforming games (I recommend the Crash Bandicoot series, any 3D Sonic games (especially Sonic Adventure for the Sega Dreamcast), or the games I mentioned above. What have those games borrowed from Super Mario 64? Where have they made improvements on the game play of Super Mario 64?
2. The World of Super Mario 64
While the world in which Super Mario 64 takes place may seem small to the worlds in which games take place these days (I’m thinking of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess), at the time of the release it felt like the world was never ending. Each world had it’s own unique feel, enemies, music, and more. What are the elements of each of these unique worlds and how do they work together to create a unique feel? Can these worlds be mapped out visually? How are they constructed? Since the game is in a 3D setting, I would recommend using Google Sketch Up to have your students either recreate the Super Mario 64 worlds visually or to have them create their own worlds influenced by the game.
- National Library Unconference Day ’11. What IS an unconference, you ask? Try out this video by Allen McGinley & I talking about our recent Remixing Libraries unconference, and check back often for more info. We’ll be posting how-to guides, videos, and tips on how to run a great unconference.
- Save the date: May 2nd, 2011, 1pm EST. More info to follow this month.
- At your library for a staff development day. Or an unconference for a regional library cooperative. Maybe something hosted at a state library? Or hosted by your state or regional library association. A great place to hold an uncon for National Library Unconference Day ’11 is at an LIS school. It’s totally up to you!
- The sage-on-the-stage lecture presentation style of a traditional conference is losing relevance in our world of immediate communication. At an unconference, the participants are the experts, and ideas grow organically. I’ve watched this video over and over, and this is exactly the type of motivating event that the speaker is talking about!
We’ll be streaming a free keynote session to all participating librarians, libraries and library organizations. Our confirmed speakers so far include:
- Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois and founder of http://tametheweb.com/.
- Jaime Hammond, Reference and Serials Librarian at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, CT., library-as-space advocate and chair of the ALA’s Emerging Leaders IG Steering Committee.
- Allen McGinley, Department Head in the Piscataway NJ Public Library, National Library Unconference Day ’11 organizer, Gaming for Children With Special Needs advocate, and leader of 8bitlibrary.com‘s #makeithappen initiative.
- JP Porcaro, aka me, founder of 8bitlibrary.com, Virtual Services librarian at New Jersey City University, and world’s self-described expert on Pokemon & libraries.
- Justin Hoenke, founder of 8BitLibrary.com, Teen Librarian at the Portland (ME) Public Library, contributor over at Tame The Web.
- Eli Neiburger, librarian in the Ann Arbor MI District Library, author of Gamers…in the Library?! The Why, What, and How of Videogame Tournaments for All Ages, Library Renewal board member, and Patron Saint of 8bitlibrary.com.
- Soon enough, we’ll have a link up for you to sign up your unconference to receive the FREE keynote lightning talks webinar. For now, mark your calendars, organize your group, and get ready to change the world. Once you sign up, we’re imaging you’d use a computer + a projector to screen the keynote to your local participants, then you’d get to your individual unconference. We’ll have a constant digital conversation on Twitter via hashtag #libuncon. And we’re hoping people share what they learned and accomplished via blog posts and youtube videos!
MARK THOSE CALENDARS NOW, and #makeithappen! signed, JP & the 8bitlibrary.com team.
On Wednesday August 25 2010, 8bitlibrary.com’s JP Porcaro will be presenting a webinar with host Michael Sauers (@msauers)!
It is presented by the Nebraska State Library Commission. All of the info and free registration can be found here:
Michael will be talking with JP Porcaro, Virtual Services Librarian at New Jersey City University and founder of 8bitlibrary.com, about Video Game Collection Development and advocacy issues that all libraries deal with when implementing (or planning to implement) video games into library collections and services.
In this monthly feature of NCompass Live, the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Michael Sauers, will discuss the tech news of the month and share new and exciting tech for your library. There will also be plenty of time in each episode for you to ask your tech questions. So, bring your questions with you, or send them in ahead of time, and Michael will have your answers.
NCompass Live is broadcast live on Wednesdays, from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website.
Sessions are recorded for anyone who may want to see them again or who cannot attend them at the scheduled time. Registration is not required to view the archived recordings.
So there’s been some press recently on the concept of video games as a form of “art”.
This debate was inspired by recent comments made by film critic Roger Ebert, who claims that not only are video games not art, but that by their very nature they cannot be art. Ebert cites a TED talk given by the lovely lovely Kellee Santiago, who inverts the film critic’s argument by saying that not only will video games one day become art, but that they already are … art.
At the heels of this online debate, comes the news that the US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case this Fall involving the First Amendment protections of violent video games.
This is not the first time that video games have come under scrutiny for issues relating to free speech. It seems like only yesterday that the ultra-violent video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas came under fire for a secret modification that incorporated a fully nude sex scene into the game. The double standard did not go unnoticed by the media. Here was a game that allowed your character to steal cars, murder cops, and beat prostitutes with a baseball bat. But one scene of completely consensual sex was enough to get the moral guardians in a tizzy. More recently, the game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 became the target of controversy for the inclusion of a mission that allows the player to commit an act of international terrorism on some unsuspecting Russian civilians. (warning, contains really disturbing imagery)
Whether or not video games should be considered “art” is only part of the question. The broader questions are: “Where do video games fall with regard to First Amendment protections?”, and: “Why does it seem that people automatically assume that the only people who play video games are 4 – 12 years old?”. Recent (and even not so recent) studies have already shown us that the average gamer is actually between the ages of 25 – 30, yet public opinion still seems to link “video games” with “kid stuff”. This is why violence in video games has become such a First Amendment issue. Not because they are more violent than your basic Tarantino flick, or that they are more sexually explicit than a Friday-late-night Cinemax movie, but because they’re games; and most people still parse “games” as: “child’s play”.
So where do libraries make the distinction? As self-proclaimed First Amendment warriors, we as librarians have an obligation to preserve the availability of certain materials that others may find objectionable. Yet if we’re hosting game nights for young teens, we might not necessarily want them to orchestrate a terrorist attack on Russian civilians in our children’s section. So how do we reconcile these issues? We can start by recognizing that the medium of video games does not necessarily define the audience; and that not everything with a health bar is family friendly kid stuff. Librarians will defend to the death our right to provide the public with Mapplethorpe, Salinger, and Anne Frank, but that doesn’t mean that we intershelve them with the Doctor Seuss books. ;)
Personally, I would defend video games, even violent ones, as an art form, but only under a very broad definition. Ordinarily, I think of art as something to be enjoyed passively, rather than interactively. In video games, the observer guides the action, and becomes an accomplice in the creation of the art. This does not make video games any less valid than the more discrete forms of art. A masterfully executed level of Tomb Raider can be every bit as beautiful as a perfect game of chess, a Baryshnikov fouetté jeté, a Salvador Dali painting, or a Hendrix solo. But I feel that the interactivity of video games places them into a different sphere of aesthetic appreciation. It is a hybrid of visual art and performance art that defines the participant as collaborator. For this reason, I feel that video games as art form deserve every protection that our Constitution provides. I eagerly wait the foundation of entire galleries devoted to the art of the video game.
Maybe we can get some eccentric billionaire to give us a grant. :)