When I Thought Libraries Shouldn't Have Video Games

Time: Summer 2007

Place: A restaurant

Setting: Editorial planning meeting

Twice a year, we gather to brainstorm the feature style articles for upcoming university issues and the website.

One of my story ideas was to highlight that McMaster University's Library now had videos games for checkout and a gaming lounge for students.

At a time when academic libraries were cash-strapped, students were demanding more hours, academics upset about cuts to the available journals, and the general public questioning the academic vigor of universities, this story had all the elements of an attention grabbing print piece.

In that editorial meeting, we agreed, I would go out and do this story.

A few days later, I interviewed the librarians managing this collection. I directly challenged the idea of any library, let alone an academic one, having a video game collection and gaming lounge.

They responded that video games are creative works and modern video games have all the quantities of many previous literary and fiction formats. They have plot, complex characters, etc.

I walked into that interview believing that public libraries should not have video games, I left with a different viewpoint. I wrote a piece providing their arguments, and some quotes from other academics regarding the merits of studying video games.

The story did not gain the kind of attention that the original story angle would have, nonetheless, I was quite happy with the outcome.

Writing this today, I realize I missed an opportunity to "study" in Robart's screening room while at UofT.