VGL Classic: Book ‘Em

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 July 20, 2005.

After two articles showing a library adding PS2 games to their collection it’s time to look at another of the library’s main functions. Books! Yes, that’s right. In this age of DVDs, CDs and video games, libraries everywhere still carry books. And some of them are even about video games. But there has never really been one single book that people look at and say “This is what you must read to get the best understanding of video games.”

In fact, go to the Electronic Gaming section at any Barnes and Noble and what will you see? Strategy Guides and their up-and-coming cousin, the Making of Art Book, as far as the eye can see. That’s what people think of when they hear the words “video game books”. And why not? A generation of gamers were raised on Jeff Rovin’s How To Win At Nintendo Games” series after all.

There’s no doubt that they’re real books. Clocking in at several hundred pages each with not a screenshot to be seen. Actually, they may have been the first video game books that most of us were exposed to that were more than just screenshot catalogs. Yes, they were strategy guides, but Rovin brought a personality to these books that most other strategy guides lacked. Even today you’ll find gamers that react fondly when they hear the name Jeff Rovin.

But books about games, gaming and gamers have moved beyond the simple strategy guide. This is by no means a complete list of every video game related book out there, but it’s a good place to start with some of the titles that I have seen that can have an effect on the way people think about gaming. Continue reading

VGL Classic: Six Months Later

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 June 24, 2005.

It has been six months since PlayStation 2 games were added to the collection of the library I work at. In those six months the collection has grown from the meager six titles originally offered on that first day to a healthy collection of 40. Best of all, not a single game has been lost or damaged (although several are on the extended overdue list). Not that I don’t cringe everytime someone brings back a disc that looks like they used it as a dinner plate.

Circulation numbers have been brisk. With two week loan periods and late charges of only 25 cents a day, people are jumping at the chance to check out games, any game. I don’t know why it’s surprising, but people (adults and children, but mostly children) will pull stuff off the shelf and check it out without even looking at what game it is they’re getting out. I asked one frequent game borrower (an adult) about this and he replied “Well I wouldn’t check out Harry Potter, but pretty much anything else, yeah.” Almost every game also has a reserve list of some size, WWE Smackdown VS Raw has been on hold since it was added. And not surprisingly for a library, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the most popular game in the collection. Even the processing department downtown has begun adding games to the county database quicker than ever. However, that’s not to say there still aren’t speedbumps. Continue reading

VGL Classic: The Video Game Librarian

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

Libraries and video games have never managed to hit it off. Several games, including GoldenEye and Halo, have levels called “The Library”, but that’s really where it ends. People in all corners of the Internet debate about the academic merits of games, but libraries are ignored. Until now. Public libraries all over the country have been adding video games to their collections. Its very possible that a library in your hometown has games on its shelf right now.

When I am not writing about games, I work at one of these libraries. I had floated the idea of adding games to my manager several times last year, but always as a joke. Even though many patrons, children and adults, had requested that we carry video games. Libraries would never carry console games I thought. But in a sense, games are already a recognized part of a good library as most carry CD-ROMs, a few of which might even be games. However, they are the exception, not the rule. Around June of last year, we discontinued our CD-ROM collection. Everything was being locked down with CD Keys and other security measures and it made the borrowing and re-borrowing of materials between patrons impossible. CD Keys would lock up and refuse access to the install process after a piece of software had only circulated several times. Even though we were well within our rights that were spelled out in the License Agreements.

This was my opening. I explained to my manager that video games didn’t require CD Keys, and that unless they were scratched beyond repair they would always work. I was also given a break because many public libraries are looking to increase their use by teens. Graphic novels had been added earlier in the year and helped the circulation numbers a little, surely I argued, games could bring in more people. So at the end of the year, I was given the OK to use a little leftover money in the budget to look into video games. Continue reading