Games, Gamers, & Gaming: Revisiting the Past

On March 9, 2009, I wrote my first Games, Gamers, & Gaming blog for LJ. I introduced myself, then deferred to a few words from some old friends‚ fellow librarians, fantasy authors like Dennis McKiernan and Jennifer Roberson, and game designers like Paul Jaquays and the venerable Dave Arneson, who passed away just five weeks later (ow.ly/6WbVB). I had no idea I would find myself writing the print column as well nearly three years later.

This is my last print installment for GG&G. I am intensely proud of the work I have done in these pages and in the online blog that accompanies it. I will continue to post online until the end of the year, so you’re not quite done hearing from me. You will have a new columnist talking about games come January 2012.

Looking back

In early 2009, the idea of gaming in a library was still met with suspicion if not outright hostility. Only the sharpest librarians, people like Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian and American Library Association (ALA) strategy guide; Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library, MI; and Beth Gallaway, Haverhill Public Library, MA, seemed able to imagine and communicate the vision of gaming as a service to offer as naturally as story time.

The trail first scouted by Levine, Neiburger, and Gallaway is the path I have tried to broaden, glad to be in their company and that of many other passionate writers and advocates. We addressed the detractors’ complaints and shared the academic reports on the benefits of games and play. We celebrated the ambitious, creative projects and events like New York Public Library’s Finding the Future (LJ‘s July 2011 cover story). Happily, you listened.

Retrospective

I’d like to mention a few columns that I think bear repetition to assist you in the event you face any of these considerations.

‚Ä¢ My Veteran’s Day blog (ow.ly/6WbZz) was widely reprinted and is as timely in this November 2011 issue as it was then.

• Addressing the conversation that still simmers, my take on The Great (M-Rated) Debate (LJ 10/10/15; ow.ly/6Wc5T).

• The three-part blog series The Jury Is Still Out on violence in video games: Part 1 (ow.ly/6WcaB); Part 2 (ow.ly/6WchA), and Part 3

(ow.ly/6Wckh).

• A pair of columns on the world-changing power of gamers and games: Gamers with Heart (LJ 11/15/09; ow.ly/6Wcr0) and Games with Heart (LJ 1/10; ow.ly/6Wcva).

‚Ä¢ Finally, a blog checklist of things to watch for in Five Mistakes We’re Making (ow.ly/6WcyP).

Achievement unlocked

Library gaming events are less controversial today. Advocates can draw inspiration from informative books like Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson’s thoughtful Grand Theft Childhood or Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken. Daniel H. Pink speaks of the value of creative play in Drive and A Whole New Mind. Chicago’s YouMedia puts center stage the ideas from professor Mizuko Ito’s Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out.

In June, the Supreme Court decided that games were to be accorded the same First Amendment protections that books and movies receive. Generally speaking, games have come to be viewed as much a library service as story time‚ just what we set out to achieve years ago. My work is done.

Looking forward

Having said my piece, this freelancer knows when it’s time to pass the torch. Beginning with LJ‘s January 2012 issue, M. Brandon Robbins takes up the banner as your host of matters game-related. If you have followed my words online, you know him as a fine guest blogger and an advocate for libraries and gaming. He is one of ALA’s Emerging Leaders and well deserves that honor.

Brandon will be tackling game reviews from a collection development standpoint, looking at backlist and classic video games and essential titles, and giving attention to board games as well. His perspective and in-depth knowledge will surely be practical, useful, and always entertaining.

I am proud of what I have written for LJ. My thanks to all of you who have followed my words these past few years. I trust I have given you good value for your time and attention. Look me up around the web, and, as always, game on.

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Liz Danforth About Liz Danforth

Liz Danforth, MLS, is a freelance game illustrator, scenario designer, and game developer who was inducted into the Academy of Gaming Arts and Design's Hall of Fame in in 1996. She has 18 years experience as a part-time paralibrarian in Phoenix and Tucson and is one of about a dozen "gaming experts" working with the American Library Association on a million-dollar grant-funded project to study the use of gaming to improve literacy skills and to develop a model "toolbox" for gaming in libraries. Through Danforth Design & Development (D3), she also works as an artist, a writer, and a library consultant. Follow her on Twitter @LizDanforth.

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