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* Monday, September 11, 2006

How Do We Measure Gaming?

I had the great pleasure of meeting and talking with John Kirriemuir in Holland last month at the Ticer Institute. He was there to present a session about Digital Games and Digital Libraries (Powerpoint file), although unfortunately I couldn't stay to attend it.

Others have picked up on his presentation, including The Rambling Librarian.

"Coherent, informative slides and surprisingly self-explanatory (for a powerpoint slide). Worth taking a look indeed. Of particular interest to me was Slide 43 onwards - 'Impact - 12 Areas where libraries and digital games collide....' "

In the comments on the post, Ivan also says, "In my view, what's stopping NLB from adopting Gaming in libraries is the lack of concrete measures (of the outcomes from implementing gaming)." I think that's pretty true for most libraries that are still on the fence about this, regardless of type (academic, public, school, or special).

So how are we going to mesaure actual gaming services in the library (not just collections or supporting materials)? Do we use the same outcomes we do for other groups that meet in the library? We use attendance figures for so much - programs, knitting group members that gather in the meeting room, kids and parents attending storytime, people who attend movies we show, and the like. Even in academic libraries it's still about the door count, the number of books checked out, the number of times a database is used, the number of times reserves are checked out, and the number of reference questions asked.

Or do we somehow try to measure participation, like we do for the summer reading program or the teen advisory committee? Is there a way to equate the literacy of the number of books a kid reads in the reading program versus the literacy a kid needs to advance playing a video game? We don't measure the actual literacy of the kids participating in the summer reading program, just the numbers. We just hope the readers are reading and learning. Does starting with Dance Dance Revolution show the obvious physical benefits of gaming, allowing us to move the discussion to the mental and learning benefits of gaming?

In the end, though, whatever numbers we use, they blow away whatever else we're doing for teens. And for twenty- and thirty-somethings, too. For those libraries that run family game nights, true or false: your attendance numbers for these events rival or better your storytime numbers?

What about comments and feedback from patrons, which has been overwhelmingly positive according to every library I've talked to that offers gaming. Is this a valid measure?

What do we use? For the directors out there, what would convince you to try it?

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