Family, Libraries, Life, Video Games

Play Video Games With Your Family

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My son Finn turned 8 on January 17 and one of his gifts was his very own copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. My wife Haley and I have been playing the game for over three years and haven’t stopped enjoying it. In those three years, Finn has created his own character in each of our towns and dabbled in the game here and there. As he got older and started learning how to read, one of the things we told him was that he could get his own copy of the game. His eighth birthday seemed like the perfect time to get him his own copy: he’s a pretty great reader, he’s got his own Nintendo 2DS, and it just felt right. We snagged him a copy of the new Animal Crossing: New Leaf Welcome Amiibo game and last night dove into starting up a new town for Finn.

He decided to call his town “Finntopia” and that his in game character would be known as Finnix because “I just like the letter X.” We cozied up on the couch as a family (minus his younger brother Aero, as he went to bed and this was a special Mom/Dad/Finn night) and helped him through the setup process of getting into his own town, finding where to put his house, and more.

Once  all of the setup was complete, Finn opened his town gates and invited Haley and I into his town. It was like the “Mom and Dad, I’d like to invite you to my first apartment/home” moment, but this time it was when he was 8 and it was in Animal Crossing. He showed us around his town, pointed out that he had some pear trees, and introduced us to some of his villagers. We then headed back to the train station but before we left did the parent thing and left him with some gifts and money to help him start his new life in Finntopia.

After playing for about an hour, it was 10pm and we told Finn we were getting tired. He said he was getting tired too. But he had a glow on his face that I will never forget: he finally got his own Animal Crossing town and he also got to spend some time with his parents playing video games. It was a great night where we all got a chance to enjoy something fun, learn something together, and best yet….hang out as a family.

Video games can be awesome family and community building tools!

I’ve written about how fun, learning, and community can happen during gaming in the past. You can read all of those here or head on over to Medium and read this collection on Nintendo games.

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Life, Things

I STAY UNDER GLASS

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There is snow on the ground.
It will be there for the next few months.
Put on your slippers and sit on the couch.
Play a video game or watch a movie.
Netflix is pretty awesome.
Get a cozy blanket and snuggle up.

https://twitter.com/jhodestroyer/status/690279919390167040

Think about all of the awesome things you can do with your life if you stop worrying about what modern society will think of you. They’ve got it all wrong. When they say you’re a weirdo what they actually mean is “wow, you’ve managed to truly find yourself and discover that modern life is just a facade.” They just haven’t figured out how to liberate their own hearts, minds, and souls.

I am a passenger
I stay under glass
I look through my window so bright
I see the stars come out tonight
I see the bright and hollow sky
Over the city’s ripped-back sky
And everything looks good tonight

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It’s all ok.

 

Libraries, Video Games

Calm, cool, connected: Study suggests an hour of video games a day makes kids better-adjusted

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First and foremost, a big thank you to Casey Phillips of the Chattanooga Times Free Press for chatting with me and my son Finn about video games.

Read the full article here: Calm, cool, connected: Study suggests an hour of video games a day makes kids better-adjusted

I remember getting my Nintendo Entertainment System all set up for the first time when I was 7 years old. I had Super Mario Bros, Duckhunt, Mighty Bomb Jack, and Trojan as the lineup of for my first set of games.  I remember playing them endlessly while I dreamed about the characters, settings, and wondering just how did they make those games?  They opened my mind and I was forever changed.  Video games gave me something to think, dream, and learn about. A good portion of my youth was spent studying anything gaming related in the gaming magazines of the time. I became a walking, talking pre-Wikipedia for video games.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been pretty successful in getting video games into libraries. Kids, Tweens, and Teens are playing video games together in libraries in pseudo 80’s arcade-like settings and they are connecting with each other and creating community.  Friendships are being made over Minecraft, Mario Kart, and more.  When I go home, my son Finn and I will sometimes fire up the Wii U. We talk about who gets to use the Wii U gamepad (it’s a pretty coveted thing) and then we talk about the adventure we want to go on. Sometimes it’s Mario Kart, sometimes it’s Lego Star Wars, and sometimes it’s Super Mario 3D World. It doesn’t matter what game we play because the end result is the same: we play, we talk, we laugh, and we share.  We fill our heads with amazing adventures. When we’re not playing games, we’re sometimes re-enacting those adventures in the front yard.

Video games are amazing.

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, Management, Teens

Here’s What a Kids/Tween/Teen Library Looks Like in 2014

The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library at 2pm on June 24, 2014.
The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library at 2pm on June 24, 2014.

What’s going on here in this photo taken at 2pm on Tuesday June 24, 2014 on The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library?

  • A day camp visits the library. 30 kids and 5 camp counselors.
  • The V-Mission: Natural Disasters LiSTEM program, a partnership between the Chattanooga Public Library and the Challenger STEM Learning Center.
  • Two outside workers installing Aerohive Wireless Routers to improve wireless access on the 2nd Floor.
  • An unknown (but significant) number of walk in patrons looking for items and using library services.
  • A number of kids, tweens, and teens enjoying open and free video gaming in the 2nd Floor Arcade.
  • A group of three tweens learning about 3D printing.
  • 3 staff members located in this area of the 2nd Floor, with another 2 in the area focused on ages 0-7.

Why do I share this? Because I want to show what the modern kid/tween/teen library looks like in 2014.  It is:

  • Busy
  • Chaotic
  • Full of people
  • Noisy
  • Energetic
  • Curious
  • Messy
  • A work in progress
  • A place where all kinds of learning and literacy happen
  • A place for everyone in the community
  • Fun

This is what the kid/tween/teen library looks like in 2014. It may not look like this in 2015, but that’s OK. The kid/tween/teen library looks like what the community needs it to look like.  This is us on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. What do you look like?

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, Technology, Teens

The 2nd Floor Commercial

There are so many awesome people who visit The 2nd Floor.  One of those awesome people that I’ve been lucky to meet during my time here in Chattanooga is the awesome Zachary Cross.

I asked him if he’d be interested in making a commercial for The 2nd Floor after I saw some of the awesome work he whipped up at one of our MAKEANOOGA TEENS events back in late 2013.

Check out more of Zachary’s video work here

Thanks for the awesome commercial Zachary!

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, Video Games

Minecraft at the Library

I was really excited to see the Darien Library  giving their library members this most excellent opportunity to play Minecraft:

Darien Library is excited to be hosting its own Minecraft server. If you don’t know about it already; Minecraft is an awesome sandbox construction game in which players create and destroy different types of blocks in a 3D environment. Explore new terrain, gather raw materials, create amazing structures, and watch out for Creepers that come out at night!

To join the Darien Library Minecraft server, simply enter the address to join when you open a new game: minecraft.darienlibrary.org

I knew that some of the teens at my library were into Minecraft, so I started thinking about how I could get Minecraft to them at the library.  I knew that a Minecraft server wasn’t the best fit for my library, so instead I purchased the game from Minecraft.net and decided to focus on setting up one computer that teens could use to play the game.  Our goal is to develop a Minecraft world with contributions from any teen library member that just so happens to want to give the game a try while they’re in the library.

While we haven’t reached that step in the process, we are very much on our way there!  This summer, one of the goals of our teen volunteers was to start building in the Minecraft world and come up with some really impressive and exciting examples of what could be done with the game.  He also took what he learned while playing the game and came up with an instruction manual that will help future library players get adjusted to playing the game.  Earlier today, I sat down with our volunteer to talk about what he’s done in Minecraft: