In yesterdayâ€™s New York Times there was an article on gaming and the elderly. Â It seems that video gaming among this particular population is trending up. Â In fact, â€œolder users not only play video games more often than their younger counterparts but also spend more time playing per session.â€ Â The article also found that individuals 50 and older â€œaccounted for more than 40 percent of total time spentâ€ and that â€œwomen spent 35 percent longerâ€ than men.
Older gamers are getting into gaming because it is good exercise â€“ both intellectually and physically. Â Casual games provide them with a way of keeping their minds engaged and active. The more physical games like the WII can provide them with a way of getting physical exercise.
The article mentions that research on the impact of gaming on diseases like dementia is sparse.Â Â However, the latest research in neurobiology is coming to the conclusion that our brains are not as â€œhard wiredâ€ as we previously suspected. Â (See Marc Presnkyâ€™s article on digital natives) Â Until recently we were taught that external stimulation had relatively little affect on the structures of the brain. Â Researchers are now finding that this simply is incorrect. Â Â In fact, gaming seems to have had a profound impact on our brains. Â Prensky suggests that we now think differently as a result of the introduction of technology into our daily lives.
What does this have to do with designing better libraries? Â Well, quite a bit!Â All educators â€“ including librarians â€“ need to develop an understanding that technology has had a profound impact on how we act AND how we think. Â We need to develop systems that reflect how learners learn today. Libraries and library systems have traditionally taken a very linear and very text-based approach to accessing resources. Â This approach, it turns out, may actually be detrimental to the educational process.
The first rule of education is engagement. Â Games are by their very nature engaging. Â As a result, our users are turning up in these environments more and more often. Â They are there and we need to be there as well. Â So, my post is a question reallyâ€¦.what is the library community doing about getting into gaming in significant ways? Â Who are the leaders in this area and what are they doing to make library resources and services more accessible through game environments?