On gaming, networking, and other things

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.

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