I know the library isn’t just for research. They are places for the public to relax and quietly have a good time. I just find it interesting how the use of computers change slowly, quickly, or with short bursts of speed coupled by lulls between technological transitions. Human interests shift from one amazing and engaging game medium to the next. No book can generate the mental stimulation that an enticing game can enable.
I have thrown myself into Minecraft, and I am currently addicted to Hearthstone. Minecraft has lost steam for me. But I see, at the library, people are still clicking around with the sandbox world. It’s a fun game that takes a lot of time from your life, if you let it. Many people want to feel busy and these games fulfill that desire.
But, if the libraries are going to turn into game centers that just happen to have old books, they probably are going to need to change. I have to wonder how older people feel about the reduced reading that is going on in libraries. Kids aren’t taking in stories as much as strategizing a storyline. They fight to survive the storyline. It’s a lot more interactive, and with Minecraft, they make up their own storyline.
I used to enjoy the books where you could have options to choose which direction the character went. It was a mystery for each decision that I had to investigate further. That kind of curiosity can easily be transferred to Minecraft where I ask what’s in this cave. Or even with Hearthstone, I’m curious what kind of deck the opponent is playing.
When I used to play on the library computers, there certainly were no games available to play. I was limited to just surfing the internet and I was only allowed 30 minutes to do so. This was probably back in the earlier 2000s or so. The library computers only had so much space available for games and many librarian directors probably felt that games were not much of a learning experience anyway. This was before minecraft came about.
Libraries have embraced Minecraft for children because of the potential to immerse yourself in a learning environment. I can’t exactly say what lessons I learned from it because I’m not a kid. A child may want to learn more about real sandstone, granite or obsidian after playing with it in Minecraft. There may be a spike in future geologists from this game, who knows?
With Hearthstone, I was surprised to see someone playing on a library computer. The librarians would have needed to download the Blizzard software to allow play. So, some libraries are opening up to a wide variety of downloadable games for people to people. I can’t say I’ve seen any major violent games at the library. They usually maintain a theme of neutrality and kid-friendly for the game choices.