Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Games and Gaming #38: Console Gaming

Now that you’ve reinvented a second life for yourself in the virtual world, discovered that you can strut around destroying skeletons and goblins in your rune armor AND earned twelve bowls of rice for some hungry kids…WHERE can you use all these newfound skills if you’re at work at the library all day? Yep, you guessed it: In the library.

Where’s PONG?

Console gaming has found a home in public libraries and from all indications, it’s not going to leave anytime soon. Long before Mario – and even predating Pong – there was the Magnavox Odyssey, released in 1972. It was analog, had no sound, and it ran on batteries but it proved that game systems could be home based and not solely relegated to arcades.

After the Odyssey came Atari’s Pong (1975), Coleco Telstar (1976) and Mattel Intellivision (1980) as well as a number of forgettable forays. Anyone remember the Zircon Channel F System II?? Didn’t think so. As the console systems evolved, so did the consumers, who demanded more sophisticated graphics and greater game difficulty. In 1985 a Japanese company called Famicom (known as Nintendo in N. America) released their NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) console in the U.S. Thanks in part to Nintendo, the video gaming industry took off like…well, a Mario Kart and the rest is history.

Nostalgic for the arcade games you played as a kid? Several websites feature flash or shockwave based online versions of games like Asteroids, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Tetris, Frogger and more. One such site is Arcade Retro.com.

Which Gaming System Should We Get?

If the last time you attempted a video game, you were clutching a joystick and gobbling pac-dots, you’re in for a jolt. Today’s generation of state-of-the-art graphics, Bluetooth technology and high-definition visuals is a far cry from the old Odyssey. According the techno gurus at cnet.com the top contenders are:

Microsoft Xbox 360 – With its extensive digital media features, a superior online service and excellent game library, this is the console to beat. Price: $250.00 - 350.00 depending on model. Games, accessories not included.

Sony PlayStation 3 – Plays all games in high-def, easy to use interface. Pricey but doubles as a Blu-ray DVD player. Limited game selection. Price: $400 – 500 depending on model. Games, accessories not included.

Nintendo Wii – It lacks the graphical prowess of the Xbox 360 and the PS3 but the combination of the Wii’s unique motion sensor controllers and emphasis on fun gameplay make this console hard to resist. Price: $350.00. Games, accessories not included.

Every gamer will give you a different opinion on which is the best console to purchase. Mostly it depends on what kind of games you’re planning on playing. Hard core gamers who prefer “first person shooter” or epic fantasy games like exclusive Halo 3 and Final Fantasy insist on Xbox 360, while sports enthusiasts prefer the family-friendly, remote-focused Nintendo Wii. Others say the PS3’s graphics are hard to beat and as DVD manufacturers choose sides in the high-def war, the PS3 is an inexpensive Blu-ray option. Even if cost is not an object, extreme popularity and perhaps intentionally limited supply only fuels the demand and makes FINDING one of these systems to purchase harder than…..playing Guitar Hero Dragonforce’s “Through the Fire and Flames” on Expert level without shredding your fingers to the bone. Totally.


  1. Visit the "nostalgic" game site and spend about 15 minutes playing Pacman or one of the other games (you have to create a free account to play). If you played these when you were younger, what skills do you think you’ve gained over people who never played?
  2. Blog about which console game system you think is best for library purposes and tell why you think so. Tell about some of your experiences with console gaming and how you think it adds or detracts from learning. Do you think players come to the library for the game but stay for the books…or just come for the game?

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This post was brought to you by Michele McKian and Abigail Buchold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I’m truly terrible at console gaming. This is no help to understanding or suggesting which would be best for library patrons. I believe that the quick reflexes needed to pass the levels even in Pac-man are just too fast. I believe it would be beneficial to develop those reflexes and learn quick decision making that these console games demand. Also it does create congruity between hand eye coordination.
I think players mostly come for games and that’s not a bad thing because when they get here they have and use our other resources.