University of Calgary

Video games

September 23, 2010

New video game library

The library is installing six PC stations for researchers to play games on newer consoles. Student Heather Gagnon plays alongside librarian Dr. Alix Hayden. Photo credit: Riley BrandtThe library is installing six PC stations for researchers to play games on newer consoles. Student Heather Gagnon plays alongside librarian Dr. Alix Hayden. Photo credit: Riley BrandtContributed by Libraries and Cultural Resources

The University of Calgary is assembling a video game collection—the Interactive Digital Media Collection—as part of the new Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL). It is the largest collection of video games for academic studies in the nation.

"Gaming as a focus of research is now expanding quickly and the capacities of the new Taylor Family Digital Library are well designed to support this growth," says Thomas Hickerson, Vice-Provost (Libraries and Cultural Resources) and campus librarian.

The collection will provide students and researchers with the resources to study a wide range of interactive digital objects, including a host of digital video games from the late 1970's to the most cutting edge PC and console games. It will also feature mainstream titles, educational games and unique and independent games.

Heather Gagnon, a French student, who was given a sneak peak of the collection was impressed. "I think it will be useful for people in the education field because this is changing how children and adolescents see things," says Gagnon. "It is an important thing to study because games are really growing," says Heather Gagnon, a French student.

The collection will even have unique examples of current scholarship expressed in retro console format, including Ian Bogost's Guru Meditation and A Slow Year.

Intellivision, a video game console released in 1979 is one of the consoles. Photo credit: Riley BrandtIntellivision, a video game console released in 1979 is one of the consoles. Photo credit: Riley BrandtThe inclusion of retro consoles in a space that fits their industrial design and intended human computer interaction is only part of what makes the collection unique. The TFDL's interactive digital media collection will also support students and scholars who want to create their arguments by building a game from scratch or modifying a commercial off the shelf game by providing both the tools and expert support.

The TFDL's interactive digital media collection will support existing courses, such as Dr. Qing Li's EDER 679, as well as through faculty feedback and LCR support the development of new courses.

While this is a bold new initiative, U of C's Libraries and Cultural Resources staff have already experimented with video games. In 2009, the library acquired several copies of Age of Mythology. U of C librarian Jerremie Clyde worked with Scott Norris and the Centre for Gifted Education to integrate the video game into a summer camp on comparative myth for junior-high students.

The students not only played and critically assessed the game, they also modified the original game to produce their own myths and illustrate what they had learned. Clyde is responsible for the collection as his own research, in collaboration with U of C's Chris Thomas, Glenn Wilkinson and University of Wolverhampton's Karl Royle. They have focused on both game based learning and gamic modes of scholarship.

"Jerremie Clyde is one of the national and international leaders in the field—truly on the cutting edge of tomorrow's research," says Hickerson.

The collection will be completed next spring, with the grand opening the following fall.


For more information on the Taylor Family Digital Library, visit: http://tfdl.ucalgary.ca/


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