Will Wright Donates Design Notes to Game Museum

Will Wright, the creative genius behind SimCity, The Sims and Spore has donated a collection of his personal papers to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games in Rochester, New York.

Wright’s contribution comes in the form of nine graph paper notebooks filled with drawings, hand-written notations and inventive doodles that he kept during the development of SimCity 2000, SimCopter, The Sims and Spore. According to the ICHEG, “[the notebooks] reveal his philosophies and methods of game design.”

“Games do not spring out of the minds of game designers full grown, like Athena from the head of Zeus,” says ICHEG director Jon-Paul Dyson. “These papers document the creative process behind some of the most important games of our time. They have transformed our society, and we are pleased to preserve this record of how Wright created them.”

Says Wright, “I’m proud to help support the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. They are preserving an important part of our culture that is frequently overlooked by society yet has a fundamental influence on who we are. I know of no other institution that is covering this topic as comprehensively as they are.”

The notebooks will be part of an exhibit the center plans to launch on November 20 known as “eGameRevolution.” Organizers said that the 5,000-square-foot exhibit “will follow the history of video games from pioneer Ralph Baer’s first Brown Box games to today’s high tech Xbox 360.”

Wright’s papers join a collection of games, consoles, handhelds and related materials that currently numbers over 22,000 pieces, making it one of the largest game archives in the world.

Games and Gaming Members Initiative Group @ ALA Midwinter

Just a reminder for those attending the ALA Midwinter Meeting this weekend in Boston…

The Games and Gaming Members Initiative Group is meeting on Saturday, January 16 in the Otis Room at the Westin Waterfront from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM.

According to Scott Nicholson, the group will share their gaming experiences, talk about upcoming opportunities and explore interest in upgrading the MIG into a Round Table.

National Gaming Day @ Your Library 2009 Reminder

This is a friendly reminder that National Gaming Day @ Your Library is scheduled for next Saturday, November 14, and it’s not too late to get involved.

Librarians are encouraged to visit ilovelibraries.org to learn more about the largest, simultaneous national video game tournament ever held, find out which libraries are participating in NGD 2009 and learn why games belong in libraries.

Instrument Compatibility Chart For Guitar Hero/Rock Band

Harmonix has created the first official Instrument Compatibility Chart for all of the Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Rock Revolution games and their official instruments.

The chart is available at RockBand.com/compatibility and covers includes compatibility notes for most of the Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Rock Revolution game ever released on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. All of the Guitar Hero spinoffs released after Guitar Hero: World Tour are not specifically listed, but since they work off of the same framework as World Tour, the chart basically includes every Guitar Hero game ever released. The upcoming The Beatles: Rock Band is also included.

For those looking to maximize their plastic instrument dollar, the Guitar Hero: World Tour guitar and drums appear to have the best cross-game compatibility on all four platforms. But be sure to check out the full chart. It is a fantastic resource. Continue reading

NPD Report: 170 Million Gamers in US

The NPD Group has released a new report about the video game community and it shows that more than 50% of the US population can now officially be called “gamers”. The 2009 Gamer Segmentation Report is based on a survey of 21,000 respondants that took place in January. The survey takers were asked about their gaming habits (or lack thereof) and through the use of statistical sampling, the NPD Group pegs the current US gamer population at 169.9 million, an increase of over 4.3 million gamers from last year’s survey.

According to GameSpot, the biggest gaming group has been dubbed “Secondary Gamers” by the NPD. The group is made up of mostly women who play less than four hours a week. They are also unlikely to own a game console and do their gaming on a PC (likely through casual game sites like PopCap, Pogo or Facebook). This is in contrast to the smallest group, the “Extreme Gamers”, who play for more than 40 hours a week.

Other classifications from the report include:

  • “Console Gamers” (32.9 million) – Mostly male, they play around 12 hours a week and own at least one game console.
  • “Online PC Gamers” (25.9 million) – Mostly female, on the average they play for eight hours and do most of it online.
  • “Avid PC Gamers” (17.3 million) – They play, on the average, 23 hours of PC games a week.

    More numbers can be found at the GameSpot link while those who are interested in the full report can purchase it from the NPD’s website.

  • Come See the Gaming Pavilion at the ALA Annual Conference

    The American Library Association has announced their gaming plans for this year’s ALA Annual Conference. From July 11-14, McCormick Place West in the Exhibits Hall will be transformed into the ALA Gaming Pavilion.

    The Pavillion will include game manufacturers, platform companies and vendors offering electronic games, board games, card games and other products and services used for curriculum-based teaching and recreation. It will also feature live workshops and multi-media resources for librarians who are interested in adding gaming programs for youth and adults.

    “Gaming is a powerful tool for both literacy and learning,” said ALA President Jim Rettig. “Gamers are writers and readers. They write fan fiction and game reviews, create Web pages, design game modifications, read strategy guides, and blog about their game play.”

    Some of the exhibitors who will be presenting in the Pavillion incclude A+ Child Supply, The Burgeon Group, Chicago Toy & Game Fair, DEMCO, GenCon, LibrarySkills.com, Out of the Box Publishing, Screenlife Games, Top Trumps, Wizards of the Coast and Zillio.

    Finally, the second annual Open Gaming Night will be held on July 10 (from 7-10 PM) at the Chicago Hilton in the International Ballroom South. According to the ALA, “[a]ttendees will discover first-hand the excitement, entertainment and learning that video, role-playing and board games can bring to libraries.”

    As if three days of vice and dice wasn’t enough, the entire 2009 ALA Annual Conference runs from July 9-15.

    Check Out Blizzard’s Library

    I spotted this on Kotaku this morning… a look inside Blizzard’s corporate library.

    Blizzard employees (who are responsible for the massive hit World of WarCraft along with the upcoming StarCraft II and Diablo III) can peruse the stacks and borrow items as diverse as Dungeons & Dragons campaign manuals to graphic novels to modern console games.

    The library also includes maps, historical reference books, programming textbooks and a huge collection of classic PC games:

    Gaming Libraries in the News: June 2009

    A couple of libraries are in the news with the details on how they plan to integrate video games into their Summer programming.

    The Woburn Advocate has posted an article titled “Attention, baby boomers” about the Woburn (Mass.) Public Library’s Wii program for adults:

    Woburn Public Library staff and teen volunteers will walk you through the use of the Wii-mote, a light-weight, motion-detecting controller that you throw like a bowling ball.

    Meanwhile, The Daily Courier of Prescott, AZ will bring families together with the Wii:

    The library also is still offering its two Nintendo Wii video game programs, including “Wii-Read,” from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

    In “Wii-Read,” a child reads a book for an hour and fills out a form telling staff what he or she thought of the selection before scheduling an hour of time playing Wii on Thursdays.

    On Saturdays, the library provides “Wii-R-Family” from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., a program in which families of at least one parent and a child can play for an hour on the game system.

    The Etymology of Video Game Names Revealed

    Drew Mackie’s blog Back of the Cereal Box is in some ways your typical blog. He posts about his thoughts, his life and various other things that someone may want to share with the Internet. But he also writes about what he calls “games and names” or “etymologies and explanations of names and words that appear in video games.”

    He has compiled these etymologies and explanations into an exhaustive blog post titled It’s a Secret to Everybody (which is a phrase spoken by the Moblin treasure horders in the original The Legend of Zelda for the NES).

    The post includes detailed research into the naming conventions behind dozens of games and franchises including Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy (apparently Square-Enix is obsessed with an obscure 1906 text on demons), The Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter, Metroid, Earthbound and more.

    As a giant geek, I love seeing this kind of research into the deeper meaning of games.

    Gaming in Libraries Summer Course Gains a Level

    If you’ve been following Scott Nicholson’s free YouTube course on Gaming in Libraries at GamesInLibraries.org/course, this isn’t news to you. But for those who may have skipped it so far, Dr. Nicholson sends along word that the class is about to get a whole more interesting (not to say it hasn’t been riveting so far):

    Because starting from today’s lesson (number 7), we’re moving out of “intro” territory. Today is about the history of games in libraries, and Thursday and Friday, I’ll be presenting a new conceptual model I have developed about how to think about game experiences, and all of next week will be applying those models.

    This is new research and a different way of looking at games that makes it easy for libraries to justify game selections back to the mission of the library.

    You can see Lesson Number 7 below and all of the previous lessons are achived online at GamesInLibraries.org/course: