Video Games

REVIEW: Hey! Pikmin

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If you love all things Nintendo and especially if you love things that are super cute, chances are that you love Pikmin. What isn’t there to love about these neat little space people crash landing on random planets only to find adorable and colorful plant-like creatures that help you solve puzzles?

Hey! Pikmin is the first portable version of the game as well as being the first side scrolling title in the series. While very different from Pikmin 1, 2, and 3, Hey! Pikmin still manages to capture the charm and puzzle solving that this series brings to players. Players once again control Olimar and guide him through levels as he collects Sparklium in his attempt to get enough fuel to power his ship. Each level has the player finding Pikmin and solving puzzles along the way. Unlike other entries in this series, there is no day/night cycle and the objectives are to save as many Pikmin as you can, find as much Sparklium as you can, and maybe grab 2-3 hidden objects each level. On the main map screen, there’s a neat feature called “Pikmin Park” where you can send the Pikmin you’ve found into uncharted areas to find more Sparklium as you continue your quest. It’s the adorable little things like this that makes this game so much fun.

Don’t pay attention to some of the reviews out there. While Hey! Pikmin isn’t as deep as the other games in the Pikmin series, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, I found it to be quite enjoyable. The levels are not difficult by any means, but are still interesting enough to keep you playing more.

Justin’s Rating: 8/10

Libraries

Connecting the Arcade to Reading (Guest post by Jessica Meyer)

20150826_190149NOTE FROM JUSTIN: I had the great privilege of working with Jessica at the Chattanooga Public Library…in fact, I hired her! Jessica has awesome ideas and connecting the arcade to books was one of her best. I’ll shut up now and turn it over to the great Jessica Meyer…
Arcades are awesome. They are big tween/teen draws, they facilitate trans-literacy, allow socioeconomic groups to mix and make friends, and  are just really fun.
Our arcade pulls in big numbers – it and the button maker pull in delightfully obscene numbers in face. Only, after a while I noticed a trend with our arcade gamers- they don’t check out books or even seem to realize there are books here. As a book addict (yes, predictable, I know) this got under my skin. It ate away at me. I put a display in the arcade, not the most amazing but it always featured cool graphic novels, fiction about video games, and even some non-fiction about game design. When I set this up I was so excited – I just knew this was how I was going to sneak book reading into the lives of this kids.
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It didn’t work. I changed the books out about every week and half and when I was in the arcade playing with the gamers I would oh so causally bring the books into the conversation. Only twice were the books taken.
It bummed me out BUT I also saw it as an opportunity to try something new, think of something better. We have only a few rules in on our twee/teen floor but one was that each day a new game was put into each system and that was the game of the day. You didn’t like, come back tomorrow. Then I really listened to my kids – no matter how many times we told them it was one game a day, they asked if they could change the game. That was the answer – they could earn a game change. Instead of telling them same ol’ spiel I told them they could read any book for 20 minutes and get to change the game. 

I posted a sign in the arcade and told  a few leaders of the arcade teens. Then I made one of our comfy chairs next to the desk our the designated reading chair and kept a tab of the Google Timer open on my desktop. Teens started asking and reading right away.

Here’s how it works:
  1. The teens approach a librarian and ask to change the game
  2. Teens pick out a book, OR get some awesome reader advisory for a book
  3. Read for 20 minutes
  4. Pick out a new game and be the first person in rotation to play it
It was so awesome. I had to amend the rules that a game could only be changed every two hours per system so that the reader would have at least two hours with that game. The kids had to read near us but they could read anything they wanted. This facilitates much awesome reader advisory – especially for reluctant readers.

In the summer I put in our least popular games and had readers change the game at least 2 times a day, typically more. At least two kids told me they did their entire summer reading requirements while in our comfy gamers chair. More than once I had teens ask if they could wait to change the game until they finished a chapter or even their entire graphic novel.They wanted to keep reading. It was so awesome.

(Read more from Jessica! Her blog Bathtub Reader can be found here)

Libraries, Technology, Teens, Video Games

REVIEW: Wii U

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Before I start this review, I have to say one thing: I love everything that Nintendo does.  I am going to do my best to give you an honest review of this system and not let this get in the way but….I mean, c’mon.  Mario and Zelda are so awesome.

THE GOOD

  • Nintendo TVii is so very rad…..and I already have a smart TV.  For the past two years I’ve loved my Google TV.  Of course I’ve had complaints with how it is set up but I overlooked that…until I got my hands on TVii.  The design is beautiful, simple, and makes watching TV actually quite fun.
  • Google Wii Street U is awesome.  I haven’t had any situations where it has totally helped me out but being able to use the tablet controller as a sort of viewfinder into a totally new world?  Pretty cool, especially for someone like me who’s moving to a new city.
  • And the games.  I have two: Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Brothers U.  They’re not the best games in the world, but they’re fun.  And that’s why I’m playing video games in the first place…to have fun.
  • Speaking of fun, one more thing: this thing is a BLAST when you have at least 3 people playing.  An absolute blast.

THE BAD

  • Nintendo is pretty horrible at going “social” with the gaming experience.  I find the Miiverse to be very clunky and not really engaging.  Sure, it’s cool to type notes or draw doodles and share but who really cares in the long run.  I don’t.
  • There are still some layout and design kinks they need to work out in regards to the Wii U menu and how players can find things.  I find myself going in circles sometimes when what I am looking for should be right under my nose.
  • And the games.  Like I said above, I only have two and not many of the other ones impress me that much.  I am most excited about the games Nintendo is making and those will eventually come out.  For now, I’d love to see other game developers make some neato things that really make use of what the Wii U can do.

THE VERDICT

  • Overall, Nintendo’s gonna come through and deliver some great stuff.  It will take a lot of time but trust me…they always come through.
  • Would this be good for libraries?  You bet.  It is a social gaming experience.  Get the deluxe set and enough controllers to have five people playing at once.  People will dig it.
  • Will it last?  Nintendo stuff always seems to last despite Microsoft and Sony doing bigger and better things with their systems.  Nintendo has focused on the same thing that they always do with the Wii U….fun games….and this will continue to pay off for them.

 

Libraries, Social Media, Technology, Video Games

Debacle by Design: Building a Game That Won’t Make Money

Debacle by Design- Building a Game That Won’t Make Money - State of Play - Boston.com

Over the past few months, I’ve been chatting/brainstorming/working with the amazing Kellian Adams of Green Door Labs on an amazing game called Project Arachne (if you want background on the project, read this article here!)

We’ve got the team together and we’re moving forward with the project.  Our next step is, as Kellian puts it ever so perfectly:

Okay, now’s the hard part. How do we fund it? We’re working with a library, so we can’t charge people to play. We also can’t get budget dollars from the library’s annual fund, because this is an experimental game, not something that’s sanctioned in the budget of a public place. We can find a corporate sponsor that might be willing to work with us. We can build the game in a way that it will travel to other libraries that could license it and offset some of our initial costs. We could also crowdsource it, but that hasn’t been really been done with this type of library project before. We could also write about a million grant proposals. I’d been chatting with some incredible educational media producers, like TERC EdGE and the Kickin’ Kitchen video project, who have been funded by grants.

That’s where we are now and you know what?  That’s totally cool.  We believe in Project Arachne and we are just jazzed to be working on this together as a team.  Kellian goes on in her post to sum everything up:

Just don’t expect that a “game that will never make money” will suddenly and magically make money. It will most likely lose time and money – and you and your team will be so proud of the time and money that you lost. You’ll love it and be glad that you did it.

I’m just so honored that Kellian picked me to be on her team.

Know any libraries that may be interested in Project Arachne?  Get in touch with Kellian @ Green Door Labs: http://www.greendoorlabs.com/

Video Games

Guy plays the same game of Civilization II for 10 years and this is the result

I highly recommend that you read I’ve been playing the same game of Civilization II for almost 10 years. This is the result thread over at Reddit.  It’s a really interesting tale of how intense a video gaming experience can be and what the player can learn from their time within a virtual world.

Even more interesting to me is this SUB THREAD dedicated to the game that this guy has been playing.  It’s full of information about the game that this guy has been playing for 10 years, discussion and speculation on the past, present, and future of the game, and even has bits of fan fiction thrown in by readers.

Let me try to restate this in the simplest way possible: a guy decided to play Civilization II over 10 “earth years” and then he posted his story online.  His game, which he was experiencing all by himself for 10 years, now became a story that was embraced by a community.  It has grown from a single game to a full fledged saga, a virtual world within the real world that has a very long and involved history.


To me, this is simply amazing.

Libraries, Presentations, Technology, Video Games

Bibliothekartag in Hamburg, Germany: May 20-25 2012

I’m very happy to announce that I have been invited to speak at the Bibliothekartag Library Conference in Hamburg, Germany later this month.

I’m excited because the  Bibliothekartag is the biggest library-conference in Germany andEurope.  Every year more than 4000 librarians from Germany, Austria and Switzerland join together to talk about the future of libraries.  I can’t wait to meet some new folks and talk about libraries.

You can find more information about the conference here: http://www.bibliothekartag2012.de/

I will be in Hamburg from May 21th to the 25th to attend and present at the conference.  During my time there, I will be presenting on the following topics:

  •  Help unveil the German/American Gaming Library/Museum/Archive League, which was developed in collaboration with Eli Neiburger and Christoph Deeg.
  • Present on the topic of gaming in libraries and share my experiences with implementing video game programs and collections with German librarians.
  • Participate in a workshop for librarians on how we can possibly  change the management structure of libraries in the future (for more information, please see these two posts: http://goo.gl/DI0cc and http://goo.gl/Cxpqv)
  • And finally, of course, enjoying some video games with librarians from Europe!

Thank you very much to my trip sponsors and Christoph Deeg of the Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow

ebooks, Libraries, Presentations, Technology

Thank You Belfast Free Library!

I had a wonderful time yesterday at the Belfast Free Library hosting a Technology Petting Zoo program for their library patrons. This year, they’re celebrating 125 years of enlightening and inspiring the people of Belfast.

We explored the latest and greatest in technology, apps, video games, ebooks, and more. It was great chatting with the library members and seeing where they’d like to go with their library in the next 125 years.

Please feel free to read/download my handout which I prepared for this program here: http://goo.gl/zPDgZ