In recent weeks, I had a challenge that Gargantua himself would call a colossal task: pass on my passion to young people by hosting online gaming sessions in the Laval Public Libraries .
During these activities, a dozen young people and I had to go to discover these mysterious online gamesand, for me, coming back safe and sound. It’s in the form of tournaments between young people that I decided to face this beast.
Before starting my animation, I set myself a list of achievements to achieve to consider my animation for 9-12 years was a success:
Enhance library computer assets
Introduce young people to the web and technology;
Improve the image of the library by giving it a techno-playful aspect;
Facilitate socialization among young people
To discover new cultural products.
Despite the potential of a paper-based online gaming activity , I must admit, that in reality, animating these activities is not easy! It’s much more than watching young people play with each other and interact as a playful lifeguard . I had to rectify several times my playful approach (before, during and after the activities) to succeed to turn the discovery into success. I submit to you, here and today, free of charge , the main conclusions I reached after surviving these activities …
Because yes, I survived!
1. Create a web page dedicated to the activity
In my opinion, the success of an online gaming activity is mainly through the creation of a web page that will serve as a gateway for young people. This is the place where they can have access to all the online games you have carefully selected, where they will know their score in real time and where they can find information on the types of games (difficulty, duration, quality, etc.).
I propose two examples of page that I edited for my animations: Laure-Conan and Philippe-Panneton .
The main advantage of the web page is that young people can come back in the future (since they have obviously appreciated your animation … you are a professional after all). In this respect, the figures are quite surprising on Ludicité: more than 30% of the traffic on the pages took place after the activity . Young people continue to consult the recommendation page well after the activity.
If I had to redo it … I would make this page even more interactive with young people who would write their own team name and score. At the moment, I enter this information myself as the activity progresses via my computer, which really takes me too much time.
2. Offer cooperative games and competitive games
To accommodate as many young people as possible, we have grouped two young people by computer stations. Not only does this create a lot of frustration for the control of the mouse, the kids did not like the “everyone’s turn” method at all . Surprising, no?
I still have ears buzzing!
So I quickly added a two-player cooperative game, Fireboy and Watergirl , which was added to my games list. Cooperative games also help to adjust the strength of teams and help young people to socialize.
A great success for cooperation: Fireboy and Watergirl
Un autre succès plutôt surprenant fut l’ajout de petits jeux compétitifs très simples, comme Jump It, qui attirent les jeunes par leur accessibilité (ok, je dois admettre qu’ils n’utilisent pas le terme accessibilité). À l’inverse, il m’aura fallu plus d’acharnement de temps pour convaincre les jeunes d’essayer des jeux plus complexes. Ces jeux se sont finalement retrouvés parmis les plus appréciées; les jeunes nommaient fréquemment Plantes contre Zombies et Small Worlds parmi leurs jeux préférés.
If I had to redo it … I would select more cooperative games and small competitive games. I would categorize games into three categories: cooperative, competitive and immersive to better explain the differences between different online games.
3. Check the technology in place
An online gaming activity has as secondary objective to demonstrate the “techno” side of libraries (yes, yes, it exists). To do this, we must make sure that everything works and that young people have easy access to online games, otherwise KAPLAW: lamentable failure. The main technical problems I encountered were:
the speed of the Internet which did not support the downloading of online games in Flash format ;
obsolete browsers that prevent games from working properly (if you still use Internet Explorer 6, it’s time to update it);
anti-phishing filters that randomly block certain games;
the impossibility of being able to control the volume of the computer;
access to positions that closed the game in the middle of the session.
If I had to redo it … Not only would it be necessary to carry out a test session before the activity, it would be interesting to put Flash games on an independent website using iFrame . In this way, young people would not have to walk around different sites, but could stay on one model of websites and be safe from the abundant advertising of online gaming sites.
4. Forget serious games
A good game, but less popular: 2025 Ex Machina
Of course, for the sake of the cause, it’s always good to show your audience (or your fellow librarians) that “exploring online games” wants mostly also say “discover educational / serious games”.
On the other hand, serious games make sense when they are connected to school or extracurricular activities. Apart from these activities, young people seldom choose serious games when they have a choice. And when they venture there, it’s not flattering for these games.
If I had to do it again … I would remove the majority of serious games from my selection. On the other hand, I would perhaps motivate young people to try a serious game in the range of games offered to earn points in the tournament.
5. Leave freedom to young people
Young people know very well what is an online game: they already know web game portals and in most cases even have their favorite games. For them, the goal of the activity is to discover new games, compare their skills and have fun.
Clearly, young people are not afraid of scraps of English in their game and do not care much about promoting local products . They especially like to have fun with simple games and accessible immediately.
So do not try to take control of their fun activities, but let them discover at their own pace, online games. We must therefore let them consult the games in the order they want by letting them discover what the game can offer them.
If I had to do it again … I would add more games in the language of Shakespeare. Games arcade type, accessible and simple to play.
So, the conclusion? Organize online gaming activities, it’s harder than you think, but it pays!