This Week’s New Releases + Game News: June 8, 2015

New Retail Releases

New Release Round-Up For Downloadable Games

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Get to Know the ESRB Ratings

Regardless of what some people think, not all video games are appropriate for players of all ages. Some games are actually designed solely for adults and children should most definitely NOT be playing them. So when choosing a video game (or helping a patron choose a game), it’s important to check the ESRB rating of the game to determine if it is age-appropriate for the person who will be playing it.

ESRB ratings work very similar to the MPAA ratings given to movies. In fact, the ESRB originally approached the MPAA about sharing the familiar G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 ratings, but the MPAA said no. Instead, games are rated by a panel of full-time ESRN raters who judge video footage of games supplied by publishers or developers that is supposed to include a general overview of the game including the storyline and any hidden areas.

The ESRB rating will appear on the front cover of every game and on the back cover along with additional “Content Descriptors” that describe events that will occur in a game. The rating of any game (along with more information on the ESRB as an organization, the complete rating process, and details of enforcement) can be found online at ESRB.org.

Below, you’ll find a quick rundown of each rating. Continue reading

This Week’s New Releases + Game News: June 1, 2015

New Retail Releases
vgl-pickThe Video Game Librarian Pick of the Week is Splatoon (Wii U), Nintendo’s entry into the team-based shooter category. But instead of gruff military guys, Splatoon is populated by kids who have the ability to transform into squids. They use this power to literally paint the map and the object isn’t to get the most kills (though you can still do that), but to cover more of the floor with your team’s color.

Other New Retail Releases
ArcaniA: The Complete Tale (PS4)

New Release Round-Up For Downloadable Games

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Welcome to The Video Game Librarian

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The Video Game Librarian is a site for librarians that will offer tips and resources on how games can be integrated into your library. You’ve come to the right place if you’ve ever wondered how the ESRB works, wanted help building a core collection, or need to know how to put on a game tournament. The site will also host a weekly roundup of the latest game releases and industry news, as well as a catalog of game-related books to help your patrons dive deeper into the history of games. Continue reading

VGL Classic: Interview With David Carter, Librarian at Michigan Game Archive

This article is from the first edition of The Video Game Librarian website I published between 2008 and 2010. It was originally written on November 7, 2008.

When it comes to scholarly research and preservation, video games are not usually at the top of the list for librarians. After books and music and movies and about a hundred other things, there’s not much attention left over for games. But some people out there are attempting to change that. One of those people is David Carter, a librarian at the newly opened University of Michigan Computer and Video Game Archive.

Michigan’s Game Archive is a “usable archive” that allows students and professors the chance to come in and sit down with a variety of video games, both retro and modern titles alike. The archive is currently in preview mode with shortened hours, but the big Grand Opening has been scheduled for November 17. I recently had a chance to talk to David about what the archive is doing, what their plans for the future are, the challenges of running a game archive and what people have been playing (you’ll be surprised).

So hit the “Read Full Post” link for the lengthy interview. Continue reading

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