Gaming is an odd thing. It can be a learning tool, an entertaining form of play, a social lubricant, and an intense obsession. I would by no means call myself a gamer, but this semester I’ve found myself participating in more games than at any other point in my life. I have had some great experiences with it: trivia and other game nights have been the main way that I’ve gotten close to new people this semester.
After Scott Nicholson’s presentation and the role playing game, I wound up feeling somewhat ambivalent. I grasp his point about the value of games, but my personal experiences have left me feeling like using games for the sake of gaming is not always the best choice.
I loved Scott’s lecture on networking. I felt that he included some really straightforward, useful advice, and he made me feel like there were ways for me to learn to be comfortable having a conversation with anyone. The game we played had the exact opposite effect on me. I despise games where I have to memorize a role, and any game where I feel that I’m being tricked (like the bean game in 601) makes me irritable. In this particular game, I was assigned to behave as a library professor – formal, rational, with a sizeable social distance and an aversion to being touched beyond a handshake. The other players were very outgoing, touchy, and pushy. I understood that the exercise was supposed to illustrate certain situations that we’ll encounter in the professional world – mismatched social distances, religious differences, opposing opinions – but I found myself genuinely shaken by the experience of being cornered by other players. The point I came away with was that even after a semester of socializing and developing my confidence…I’m still shy and really not good at this stuff.
Maybe it was still a valuable experience? Maybe it showed me how far I still have to go. But I definitely wished that this particular lesson had been taught differently. Putting me in a social situation and asking me to be outgoing is one thing, and I anticipate practicing that a bit during the poster session. But having me put on a fake personality and attempt to interact with other people…terrifying.
I have a couple of books about gaming at the moment, and I will be looking into it more closely, particularly because I do think it could be really great for our teen group. I’m hoping I can figure out how to productively incorporate it into my own brand of library service without just throwing it in for its own sake.