You Thought Gaming Had No Place in Your Library? – Think Again!

This recent news was an eye opener for me, and IMHO heralds the new age of technology and youth. How online gamers helped UW researchers solve AIDS mystery is the headline for an article that explains how gamers solved in 10 days a bioscience problem that medical researchers have worked on for over 10 years. That should blow your mind! It did mine!

The game at the center of the breakthrough is Foldit, an online game that lets players collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules. Playing Foldit, gamers helped researchers solve a problem that has stumped them for more than a decade: How to configurate the structure of a retrovirus enzyme related to AIDS. …. Researchers say figuring out the virus enzyme structure “indicates the power of online computer games to channel human intuition and three-dimensional pattern matching skills to solve challenging scientific problems.” And researchers have gamers — who are listed as co-authors of the paper — to thank for their breakthrough. “We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” Firas Khatib of the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry said in a statement.

Still not convinced that gaming is important? Consider this.

Many if not most young people are gamers. Many if not most are learning information literacy, either in school or on their own (Connected Learning, Children, and Digital Media). Many if not most are smarter on average than youth their age were just 25 years ago. Why, because they are being challenged to think by games, technology, social networking, information overload, 21st Century Skills, etc. Still doubtful? Look at this 7th graders’ field trip. Maybe you should rethink the value of gaming in your library. Maybe you should go even further and rethink the new generation of library customers. P.S. Here’s another resource about gaming; Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rule-Breakers, and Changemakers by Sunni Brown. Also, see 2011 TED Talk Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite!

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One response to “You Thought Gaming Had No Place in Your Library? – Think Again!

  1. What a great post, Dr. Steve! I had no idea, and I appreciate you bringing this gaming group-think (aided by computer technology) to my attention. Surely, the collaboration of bright young people, when they are enjoying the learning challenge, is something we should encourage in our libraries of the 21st century. Maybe even being able to convert the group meeting rooms in many libraries to computer labs for collaborative ventures such as you’ve shared with us…

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