Video Games Weekly: Welcome!
Hello, dear reader! My name is Alanna, and I am incredibly excited to start contributing to TLT about video games! For my first post (*gulp*), I would like to quickly introduce myself, and get to know you! Next week, I promise I will review a newer game. In the meantime, if you have any questions about video games, please do not hesitate to comment below or tweet @LannaLibrarian.
My love for video games dates back to the late 1990s. Almost every Christmas, my family would pack up our minivan and drive 14 hours from our home in suburban Chicago to my grandparents’ house in Pennsylvania. One particular Christmas, my family was having a holiday party, and there weren’t any other kids around except for me and my younger brother. To save us from dying of boredom, my uncle brought us upstairs. There, he had a PlayStation hooked up to their TV, with Crash Bandicoot inside.
From that moment on, my brother and I were hooked. We eventually got our own PlayStation, followed by a GameCube, then a PlayStation 2…and the list goes on and on.
Fast forward to graduate school. I went to University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for both my Bachelor’s in History and my Master’s in Library and Information Science. While at U of I, I had the privilege of working as a graduate assistant for the Residence Hall Libraries. One of my duties was collection development for our print and media collection, which was exciting for me because we had video games! During my last semester of graduate school, I made the frightening but rewarding decision to take on a new position, move across the country to New Jersey, and start my professional career as a Teen Services Librarian in Cape May County, NJ.
It was back when I was working in Illinois when first noticed there are not many video game collection development resources. Sure, you can read gamer reviews like Metacritic, Game Informer, and IGN, but they are mostly written both for and from the perspective of the target demographic in gaming: white males in their teens or 20s. While the gamer community is so much more diverse, there is a noticeable lack of representation of “the others” in games and players alike (sounds familiar, right?). This is problematic for librarians, because we strive to provide resources for everyone. Here’s an example of the problem:Family Game Night 4: The Game Show came out for the Wii in 2011. On these gamer review sites, Family Game Night 4: The Game Show received: one negative review from a critic on Metacritic, is currentlty unavailable on Game Informer, and a “5.8 – Mediocre” from users (no critic reviews) on IGN.
If librarians work off of these gamer review websites alone, we could miss an opportunity to purchase a fun game for the patrons who do not have a similar identity as the target audience. In contrast to these negative reviews, Family Game Night 4: The Game Show is consistently checked out at my library. This doesn’t surprise me. After all, this game is an excellent choice for families who want to play together, especially families who have younger children or teens who want to play video games with their younger siblings. Sure, the graphics are not that great, the gameplay is simplistic, and a lot of mini games are from earlier editions in the series, but the game fills the demand for a family friendly “party” game. And my hips stats don’t lie!
My goal for this column is to bridge the gap between Library Land and Video Game Land, since I am an active member of both. I hope to help other librarians make informed decisions about purchasing video games for collection development and Teen Game Night programs. I’m not an expert, but I think I know a thing or two about games, and maybe you will find this useful. Who knows! Maybe I can even convince you to pick up a controller!
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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