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Video Games and Young People: Learning, Literacy, and Libraries


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Video Games and Young People: Learning, Literacy, and Libraries



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Language English
Video Games and Young People: Learning, Literacy, and Libraries By: Heather Robertson December 2004
 Introduction My first memory of video games was waking up as a child on Christmas morning and being introduced to Super Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo games console. I was enthralled by the cartoon characters and spent months gathering mushrooms, racing through various Mario world levels and striving to save the princess. While I am not a regular player of video games now, I still enjoy them. I have very fond memories of Christmas gatherings, seated around the television with the newest game system, laughing and socializing with my brother and our family friends as we tried to master the various sports, adventure and shoot-‘em-up games on the market that year. Two months ago, I stood in my local public library branch glancing through the newest addition to the library collection, DVDs. Shifting an armful of books, I eagerly explored which titles of this new format the library carried, pleased to see that the library was offering a format so heavily requested by patrons when I knew that there had been many concerns regarding cost, shelf life and security for this popular technology. Beside me stood a friend, an avid reader within his work environment but largely a stranger to libraries, who was silently dissecting a loose thread on his coat and patiently waiting for me to finish. When I asked him whether he saw anything of interest, his reply was, “Why don’t libraries have video games?” My first response was to laugh, roll my eyes and say, “because video games don’t belong in libraries.” However, as I prepared my answer, I began to wonder whether my instinctive response was in fact accurate. To many people, video games are just as important as books. I have spent many years watching my brother and his friends play numerous Nintendo and PlayStation games, with the same concentration and enthusiasm that I bring to each new novel. I had always viewed their game playing as insubstantial in comparison to book reading and other creative and physical activities. Yet, as I learn more about multimedia and the role it plays in learning and literacy, I find myself rethinking my assumption that playing video games is a waste of time. Librarians today spend a great deal of funds, time and energy thinking of new ways to bring people, particularly young adults, into the library. How is it then, that libraries will acquire multimedia items such as graphic novels, videocassettes and DVDs, audio tapes and CDs, as