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.

As more people have become aware of the collection, the more the games have circulated. In fact, twenty games were checked out 30 or more times in 2006. This is a huge increase over 2005, when no game was able to circulate over 30 times. Here is the full list:

1. Hulk (37)
1. Treasure Planet (37)
3. Mega Man Anniversary Collection (33)
3. Fantastic Four (33)
5. Ape Escape: Pumped and Primed (32)
5. Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2 (32)
5. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 (32)
5. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 (32)
5. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (32)
10. Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando (31)
10. Rayman 3 (31)
10. Mega Man X8 (31)
10. Scaler (31)
14. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (30)
14. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (30)
14. Jak 3 (30)
14. Katmari Damacy (30)
14. Star Wars Battlefront (30)
14. ESPN NBA 2K5 (30)
14. Destroy All Humans! (30)

As you can see, no genre or age-specific games overrun the list. Stuff for kids is just as popular as stuff for all ages, which is also just as popular as the games designed for teens and adults. And while patrons seem to be interested in trying anything, tried and true franchises definitely dominate the list. Sadly, last year’s most popular games, the ones based on the Harry Potters books/movies, have gone to that big GameStop in the sky. Of course, I have plans to replace them in 2007.

Other libraries throughout the county show the same results. Everything is designed for the “all ages” or “teens and adults” crowds. While there’s obviously no official decree, everyone seems to have decided independently of the others that the time isn’t right for Mature-rated games yet. The PlayStation 2 is also the console of choice among libraries in my local system as none carry GameCube, Xbox, Xbox 360 or Wii titles.

But what about the PlayStation 3? With the PS3 now available, the PS2 has officially become obsolete, even though game makers plan to push at least a hundred more titles on last generation’s console leader in the next few years.

The original plan was to eventually add PS3 games in the future because of backwards compatibility and the “consistency” of the PlayStation name. But right now, that idea is on the backburner and we plan to stick with the “obsolete” PS2 as long as possible.

There’s also the possibility that the PS3 would be pushed aside because we want to stock games for as many patrons as we can. And if the PS3 becomes a niche system due to its high price tag, libraries will decide to follow the market leader.

But all of that is a debate for the future. And the hear and now says the PS2 can be more than just a games collection on the shelf. It can also be a way to create interesting new programs that may get people into the library who haven’t come in for a while. And to that end, my library started 2007 by purchasing a copy of Dance Dance Revolution Supernova to go with our newly donated PS2 system. I imagine the first “dance off” program will be a lot of fun, and my uncoordinated self will fall… a lot. Trust me, there will be no pictures.

There are no other concrete plans for 2007. I’d like to start adding Mature-rated games because I think the collection is big enough that they won’t stand out anymore and I’d like to at least think about adding games from the Xbox 360, Wii or PS3 soon. I know that won’t happen this year, but now that games are “business as usual”, wild ideas don’t seem so wild anymore.