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Why Wii?: Adult Gaming in the Public Library


If you're like me, perhaps you started seeing a new word recently—Wifi-- and puzzled over it, then started seeing Wii, and thought somebody must be misspelling something, and what were all these annoying intruders into the lexicon, anyway??? Well, the former is pronounced like hi-fi, is usually hyphenated, and is a type of wireless Internet service. The latter is pronounced like "Wheeeee!," and I'm sure that interjection has escaped from the mouths of many who tried the Nintendo Wii videogaming products in public libraries or elsewhere. The Wii is a video game console that can be used with a wide variety of software products including Wii Sports, with which one can play virtual tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing.

Wii Gaming at the Riverdale YM-YWHAWii Gaming at the Riverdale YM-YWHAWhen I say "videogaming" do you think teenage boys? If so, think again. According to a report of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, over half of American adults play video games. 23% of survey respondents 65 and older and 40% of those 50-64 report playing video games. Video games include games online and/or with devices such as desktop or laptop computers, game consoles, cell phones, Blackberries, or other handheld organizers or portable gaming devices. Older adult gamers play games more frequently. Over one-third of gamers 65+ play games every day or almost every day. 28% of adults in the study have used a game console such as Xbox , PlayStation or Wii.

Wii Gaming at the Riverdale YM-YWHAWii Gaming at the Riverdale YM-YWHAA recent article in American Libraries magazine tells us that Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library began Wii gaming with teens around 2006. When staff, especially then-manager of Senior Spaces there, Allan Kleiman, saw how seniors in senior centers and nursing homes were taking to Wii, he thought, "Why not libraries?" Teens were used as mentors and training instructors; they had to demonstrate their ability to teach adults the technology by training Kleiman and Youth Librarian Theresa Wordelman. After a few months, the older adults became accomplished gamers and started teaching others themselves. They've since had multi-screen game events, with simultaneous bowling, Guitar Hero, and Brain Age Academy, and they've held tournaments between the teens and their former mentees.

Wii Gaming at the Riverdale YM-YWHAWii Gaming at the Riverdale YM-YWHANYPL has jumped into the gaming pool with both feet. March 21, 2008—"Game on @ Your Library" came to Astor Hall (the jumbo vestibule for the Humanities and Social Sciences, aka 42nd Street, Library). The Reason: 18 branches got Wii gaming equipment and lots of software programs, for both in-library use and loan, and a new era had begun. Fast-forward to today—libraries have moved from gaming programs for children and teens to Wii gaming for adults of all ages. The Bronx paper The Riverdale Press recently came to the Bronx Library Center to check out the regular Friday afternoon sessions. My only mini-quibble with the writer is where he tongue-in-cheekedly states adults and seniors come to "stay active, make new friends or simply goof off." This last "reason" is a stretch. I happen to know that the staff at the Bronx Library Center keep careful track of everyone's score each week—it's all there in black-and-white recorded for posterity and while the activity and socializing are certain, I would be surprised to see goofing off in this venue. By the way, I peeked at the scores and they probably average 130 or more.

Strike!Strike!And not only Bronx Library Center. Not to be outdone, the Francis Martin, Parkchester, Mosholu, and Throgs Neck libraries, all in the Bronx, have been offering free Wii gaming for adults. It's spreading—check at your local library to see what's happening there. "Wii" are coming to you, as well. Evelyn Muriel-Cooper at Bronx Library Center and Galina Chernykh at Wakefield are a few librarians who consider it part of their job to travel hither and yon--to senior centers, nursing homes, and who-knows-where-else with the Wii paraphernalia, for the gaming pleasure of all they meet. I am impressed. I remember going to Scrabble Day in a library once, and being matched up for a game with complete strangers. The novelty of it gave me a wonderful memory that persists, twenty years later. The American Library Association celebrated the first "National Gaming @ Your Library Day" on November 15. All kinds of games—both board and video—were played in libraries throughout the country. Start practicing now and maybe you can be a Wii star this November. What games do you like to play? Have you ever played a game in a library?


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I am a Wii owner and I love

I am a Wii owner and I love it!! I mostly use it with the Wii Fit and I think its great! Although, I'm not very good at the balance games, which has me a little worried. :-) The other day was the first time that I played with a few of my friends and we were cracking up! While its great watching the kids play with it during Mulberry Street's "Game On," I think its a perfect tool for bringing adults together, as well.

And then there's the other

And then there's the other end of the spectrum in Lincoln, NE... "State auditor questions fun and games on state dime"

Interesting article--thanks

Interesting article--thanks for pointing it out. . .

Library gaming! Yay! Wow,

Library gaming! Yay! Wow, this is quite the dream come true to have this concept broadcast to the public about its awesomeness. I work at my public library in Pennsylvania, and I do the exact same thing: I teach adults and senior citizens how to play video games (mainly Wii, but I occasionally have them dive into Xbox 360 games as well). I'm 19, and I've been playing video games since age 4, so I think I have quite the experience to pass onto others. Oh yeah, so my library also participated in the National Gaming @ Your Library Day at the same time as it hosted a Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament, and that was quite fun, let me tell you.

That is great! You sound

That is great! You sound like just the right kind of person--enthusiastic and knowledgeable--to help give adults, even older adults, confidence and competence with video games and other new technologies. Good to hear from you.

Thanks for the great info.

Thanks for the great info. I've read about seniors in nursing homes getting involved with Wiis, and I've seen photos that show how much the participants enjoy the games, the exercise, and the adventure. I think that bringing games to adults and seniors at public libraries is a great idea and a win-win situation. The adults and seniors benefit on various levels, and the libraries stay fresh and current and tuned in to the times. And having teens in mentoring and instructing roles? A fabulous bonus.

I work at a public library

I work at a public library and we have been doing gaming for teens for years now. We just recently started offering it for adults too. We usually offer Wiis, Playstation 2 and the Xbox. It is taking some time getting it going with adults but we have had a decent turnout at the events. We also visit some nurrsing homes with the Wii and the residents love it. It took a little while for them to work up the nerve to try it but now they want to play over and over again! They love the bowling. Anyway, thanks for writing this article and bringing some attention to this topic.

You're welcome, and thanks

You're welcome, and thanks for your interesting input. PlayStation and XBox 360, hmmm? I guess I'll need to try them myself now that I've dabbled in Wii'ing a bit.

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