Thing 15. Online Games and Libraries

Gaming in libraries has been getting a lot of press in library journals and seems to be snowballing in interest—even getting its own American Library Association TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium in Chicago last year. The library world’s interest in gaming can be seen as a reflection of the general public’s interest.

According to the PEW Internet and American Life Project: America’s Online Pursuits Study, the number of online gamers increased 45% from 2000-2002. Many of these online games are Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMOPRGs). MMOPRGs have had a huge burst of interest in the past few years. Most MMOPRGs require a subscription, but there are a few that require no subscription, and even a couple that require no client download.

One free online game is Puzzle Pirates which allows you to navigate the pirate world based on your skills at various puzzles. Each ship requires multiple crew members, so there is a lot of interaction and collaboration in the community. Start by visiting their wiki, in case you want more detailed instructions before landing in the pirate world. However, this game does have guides, so jumping right in is always an option.

Another option that is more popular in the library world is Second Life. Second Life isn’t, strictly-speaking, a game. There are no objectives to fulfill, no goal at the end, no princess to save.

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by nearly 200,000 people from around the globe. There are shopping malls, events, homes, lands of different types, and best of all, participants can contribute content, buildings, and other digital creations. Second Life also has had some unexpected results—there are virtual classrooms that one can attend and a number of institutions are using those classrooms as another avenue for distance education.

As in "real life," there are libraries. Alliance Library System, one of nine multitype library systems in Illinois, has created Info Island. Info Island offers reference and other services. Read more here.

For this Thing, you have some options…

A. Puzzle Pirates

  1. Try learning two different roles in Puzzle Pirates—bilging is generally were you start. Other options are Learn to Carpent and Learn to Sail.


B. Second Life
1. Watch this video tour (warning! music) of Info Island on Second Life.

Take a look at Second Life. If you are feeling adventurous, sign up for an account with Second Life and explore the islands. (Make sure your computer can handle the software requirements.)


  • PBS built a website around their series The Video Game Revolution that has a lot of useful links to further information and reading about the video game phenomenon. Including Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked.
  • Ohio University has a short video about their reasons for their presence in Second Life.
  • The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County has an FAQ about their Teen Second Life.
  • The Info Island Blog
  • Sirsi Dynix Institute's Teen Second Life: Library Services in a 3D world with Kelly Czarnecki of The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. If you don't want to listen to the audio, there is an option to look at the slides under "supplemental materia.l"
  • YALSA also has an podcast interview with two teens involved in Teen Second Life and Teen Second Life Library Project.

Blog Prompts

  • If you tried Puzzle Pirates, write a blog post about how the interaction was with other sailors.
  • If you chose Second Life, write a blog post about your findings and thoughts on Second Life. Is there a role for Second Life in libraries?

1. If you have experience with Second Life or a MMOPRG game try the write a post comparing and contrasting the two environments and what you like and dislike about both and which is your preferred environment.


Rachel Gray said...

If you do SecondLife for this thing, make sure to check out Info Island - an island dedicated to libraries!

fairpan said...

If you chose Second Life for this thing, be sure your computer has the required speed and space for it. Otherwise it can be extremely frustrating. Second Life is fun and it helps to go through the tutorials.

Sarahs23things said...

I like Gaiaonline better. Games to play, forums to chat in.

Sarahs23things said...

I should have added that Gaia online is free (though you can buy stuff with cash from cash cards or paypal) and doesn't require a download.

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