When Lizz Zitron over at the YALSA Think Big About Advocacy Task Force asked me about my gaming advocacy, it induced me to look back at what I promised the readership here on Library Journal when I first started writing this blog back in March of 2009. I come to the work of advocacy for games with a deep understanding of past challenges, a good grasp of the present state of the hobby, and an absolute passion for the future and its possibilities. Drawing on these strengths, I think I’m delivering on the promises I made.
Fortunately, I know I’m not alone in that respect, among the games-in-libraries community; many of us share these strengths. I feel sure Lizz’s call for for others to share their own passionate advocacy about games or any youth service will be met with many responses. At least, I trust that will be so.
However, her questions led me to question my impression that gaming has pretty well “colonized” libraries now, that most stakeholders and professionals understand the basic principles and values of having gaming.
Certainly there are holdouts. Libraries that can hold board game nights without a struggle are still unable to offer games for checkout. Some libraries sequester games into the narrow box of “playtime for kids” without looking cross-generationally, or at the enormous variety of gaming possibilities. Internet trolls still post anonymous comments saying “Books, books, books in a library; knock off the games!” But my feeling is that few people in the profession still suffer the amazed astonishment Eli Neiburger expressed with his book title seven years ago: “Gamers… In the Library?!”
Am I wrong? Are we still fighting for the basics?
For those newly arriving in the gaming movement, my first year of LJ posts will likely be the most useful. Certainly there are always new people entering the profession, finding themselves tasked with taking on gaming programs for the first time. On the whole, though, I see us as needing to take the next steps now. We should make gaming deliver on its promises too. First, we need never apologize for offering games for recreational enjoyment any more than we offer books because they’re a fun read. But with so many additional benefits‚ creative engagement, literacy, cross-generational services, community-building, and fostering of 21st Century skills‚ we can make our programs accomplish more. Games do all these things naturally. It’s largely a matter of staying aware of the possibilities in how we design our programs as a deliberate and not merely implicit part of our work with games.
Whether you’re new to the game or a veteran player, game on!