Changes Coming to Video Game Librarian

UPDATE: It’s been a long time, but a new Video Game Librarian site will launch on June 1, 2015.

You may have noticed that this is the first 2011 update at The Video Game Librarian. That’s because I launched a new site, Warp Zoned, on January 1st. Warp Zoned is a gaming website full of news, previews, reviews, interviews and features. I’ve got an amazing staff and we really think we’re doing some good work. So feel free to hop over there for your video game news fix.

With the launch of Warp Zoned, I plan to turn The Video Game Librarian into a more general information portal on games and libraries. So stay tuned for that, but no promises on when it’ll actually happen.

VGL Classic: Choosing a Next-Generation Format

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on December 21, 2007.

The PlayStation 2, the current platform of choice for any library that focuses their game collection on a single console, will turn eight years old in 2008 and is likely at the end of its useful life. Sure, it’ll get a few more years of annual EA Sports updates, various bits of bargain software and games based on Saturday morning cartoons, but the days of games like God of War II coming to the PS2 are over.

So what’s a librarian to do if they want to keep their collection current? Why, move up to the next-generation of course. As a Media Librarian myself, this can be a tough choice, but with this guide we hope we can help any librarians out there make the right choice. The three consoles have been organized from best to worst, with the pros and cons listed for each so that the console that best fills your library’s personal needs can be chosen. Continue reading

VGL Classic: 2006 Year in Review

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on January 29, 2007.

2006 has come to a close and with it, year two of having PlayStation 2 games available is in the books. After twenty-four months and 170 games (the collection was able to more than double in 2006), video games have become business as usual with the staff and the patrons.

But “busines as usual” does not mean the games have lost any of their popularity. It’s actually the opposite. They still occupy their small shelf in the video section but every game, no matter how old, still circulates constantly and even though the collection has grown considerably since the initial handful of titles, no more than five games are ever in at a time. Continue reading

VGL Classic: John Scalzi and the Old Man’s War

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on May 26, 2006.

I first came across John Scalzi’s name in Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. I nearly did a spit take when I was thumbing through the Spin section of the magazine and saw what I initially thought was my own name listed as the author of the DVD and music reviews. I did a little digging (who was this man who almost had my name after all?) and found his Whatever weblog and became a fan.

Fast forward a few years and I see Old Man’s War sitting on the shelf at the library. It has been in my pile of books to read almost since it was released. But when my fiancee showed me that the sequel (The Ghost Brigades) had just come out, I figured it was time to get cracking on the original.

While I’ll be the first to admit that the name thing was part of the reason why I first picked up Old Man’s War, I also thought the premise of the book was different. You see in the future, humanity has colonized the stars. But colonies will always need soldiers to protect them from native people who may not want to be colonized and from other worlds that might want to challenge your claim to a specific piece of land. That’s where the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) comes in. The CDF knows the value of an experienced soldier. So if you so choose, on your 75th birthday you can join up and the CDF will give you a new body and send you to the stars to fight for the colonies.

What follows is a fast paced and humorous sci-fi yarn through old age, new life, action, adventure, boot camp, bug hunting and just plain fun. But I don’t want to oversell it. What I want to do is mention that in addition to thinking it’s an amazing book, I also noticed that Old Man’s War has the potential to be a huge video game. Now if you had plans to read the book, I suggest you hit the Back button on your browser right now because I’m going to be diving pretty deep into the plot here. Continue reading

VGL Classic: Breaking the M-Rated Barrier

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on April 13, 2006.

Grand Theft Auto… The Suffering… Manhunt… State of Emergency… Postal… Mortal Kombat…

The number of games that are considered “unacceptable” due to their content grows all the time. Every day some misinformed politician will trot out the latest “murder simulator” and cry out “Won’t someone please think of the children.”

Meanwhile we gamers sit back and shake our heads at people who get all worked up over games that are not designed for children. They are not meant for children, they are not advertised to children and they are not purchased for children by anyone with half a brain.

But sadly, video gaming is still seen as a children’s toy by many. Its this reasoning that has caused the ban of Mature rated games at my library and many other libraries across the country. But eventually, there will come a time when you want to cross that line. When the people in charge realize that their friends and neighbors are playing these M-rated games because they’re adults and because they think the premise is exciting.

So with the recent release of 24: The Game, I started thinking about what games would be best to make the break from the limits of E, E10+ and T. Obviously, Jack Bauer’s digital adventures is near the top, but as I combed through the list of PS2 games, many more popped up as well. Through their connections to other bits of pop culture (and in one case, a piece of Literature with a capital L), these games would be seen as more acceptable than most. And maybe that’s all we can ask for as a first step. Continue reading

VGL Classic: It’s The End of the Year As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on January 25, 2006.

It has been one year since the “Great Video Game Experiment” was started at the public library where I work. And in those twelve months I’d have to say it has gone as good as anyone could have hoped. In the end, the numbers don’t lie, and a success is all this experiment can be called.

Seventy-seven PlayStation 2 titles have been added to the collection so far with at least a dozen still awaiting processing. Sadly, Culdcept, one of the games purchased in the initial batch of games at the end of 2004, is still on that list. It’s a little short of the 100 game target I had thought was reasonable back when I started, but 77 seems like a pretty respectable number.

Jak II was the first game to come back broken at the end of July. We had a pretty good run before that. Seven months and not a single problem to be investigated. And then Jak II comes back with a complaint that it won’t start after 8 circs. I pop it in my PS2 at home (because we can’t afford a test unit to sit in the library at all times) and sure enough, the game wouldn’t advance past the Dolby Surround logo. It looks much less scratched up than some of the titles, but it just won’t play.

This has seemed to be a trend as the year moved on. Many younger kids brought back certain titles and say “they’re too scratched to play”. But when I test them on my regularly cleaned PS2 at home they work fine. So back on the shelf they go. But it wouldn’t be unexpected if they didn’t work. Library materials get beaten up regularly. It happens. However, a theft ring is something nobody expects. Continue reading

VGL Classic: A Librarian’s Look at the Xbox 360 Launch

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on November 16, 2005.

New formats. They are the bane of media librarians everywhere. Which do you support? Do you support the nwe format and the old format in an attempt to please everybody? When do you drop the old format entirely? When do you start a massive discard project to clear shelf space for the growing collection of the new format?

With the Xbox 360 launching any day now it’s time to give a look at how building a game collection from start with this new format would work. Like what are the strongest launch titles? What will be replaced with a more “next-gen” product in the future? And, like any video game launch, which titles will be relegated to the dustbin of history?

You’ve also got to look at the numbers when it comes to the Xbox 360. Microsoft has confirmed that there will not be enough consoles for everyone who wants one for a very long time (some estimates place it around March for real regular shipments to begin). So you might want to ask yourself, will there by enough patrons walking through my front door to warrant adding 360 games to the collection? There’s also the fact that, aside from sports titles, every one of the 360’s launch titles will be rated Teen or Mature. There are no family friendly options at this point in the system’s life. Although general interest titles, like sport games and racers, are on the launch slate. So let’s look at those games. Continue reading

VGL Classic: The Novel Approach

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on September 26, 2005.

During this past summer and all throughout the fall, an unprecedented number of licensed games based on television, film and comic properties will be released. And not a one high-profile title can be said to trace it’s source to a book. Although the case could be made that Shattered Union was inspired partly by Harry Turtledove’s alternate history series of Civil War novels. And I’m sure there’s a smaller publisher or two that’s putting out something.

And who can blame the publishers that decided this? Books do not have a good history of being turned into good games. Just look at the Fellowship of the Ring game from a few years ago, the Dragonriders of Pern game that appeared on the Dreamcast and Harlan Ellison’s PC misstep I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (great title for a game though). But have no fear, a real time strategy title based on the Left Behind series is in the works for the PC. Scratch that, maybe you should be afraid.

But if publishers took a trip down to their local library they could find hundreds of titles that would translate into great games. However, at this point I should mention out that the great Guardian Gamesblog tackled the idea of literary games a few weeks back while this article was sitting half done on my hard drive. While our tastes in books and games differs slightly, feel free to check out their picks in addition to mine. Continue reading