Gaming for Adults @ PLCMC

Martin House and Mark Engelbrecht from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County shared information about their awesome undertaking to provide gaming programs for adults at PLCMC and its branches.

The Library applied for, and received, an LSTA grant to buy equipment and do a research study to answer the question "Does gaming bring adults into the library?"

With the grant money, PLCMC purchased:

  • 12 Alienware laptops for LAN play
    • Call of Duty 2
    • Need for Speed
    • Age of Empires
    • Madden 07
  • $2000 worth of board games
How are they doing it?
  • Events at 3 different locations
  • 2 in urban low-income neighborhoods, 1 in urban affluent neighborhood
  • events held once a month and rotated around branches
Promotion: do not rely on web as sole method of advertising, use sandwich board, flyers at local businesses, partner with local businesses such as comic book stores or game stores. They also recommend having a small printing budget for printing color flyers

Resistance: They did get some resistance from staff who thought the money would be better spent on books and other materials. Those who were already sold on gaming had to tout the educational, social learning & interaction, the promotion of the library, and reaching new non-traditional library patrons.
Some staff slowly saw value after success, some will never see it.

How to deal?
>encourage staff to attend the events
>point out that an unserved audience is being served

Some results:
  • majority of users from low-income areas
  • attendees range at 26+ but there's been good representation from 19-25 age group
  • younger adults drawn to these events
  • did not say that children are not welcome, though publicity says 18+
  • increase in approachability
  • in person marketing most effective
  • social interaction among very different segments of community
  • funding (though their LSTA grant covered it for this specific program)
  • staffing -- who is going to do setup, who is going to be present at event?
  • after hours events
  • coordinating equipment between branches
  • equipment damage and loss (putting it into annual budget)
  • getting staff buy-in
Other Considerations:
  • securing and transporting laptops
  • how long will it take to set everything up?
  • for PC gaming > much higher commitment from staff, esp. LAN; updates, machine setup w/ logins, comfort with troubleshooting PCs
  • staff have to know how to play the games
  • extension cords, powerstrips, optical mice (no wireless), steering wheels for driving games, no headphones [Interestingly, it was said that the headphones inhibited interaction; once they were taken away, the gamers were communicating, trash talking, having more fun!]
  • Hardware recommendations: 1G RAM (Vista - 2G +RAM), 60-100G HD
  • events should be 3-4 hours; otherwise it's not worth the time spent on setup
The guys ran out of time at the end, but Martin was nice enough to put his presentation materials on his website. Thanks! I got a lot out of this presentation, especially as I struggle to come up with appropriate ideas for future grant proposals. My brain is full!

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