OFF THE SHELF: News from the Madison College Libraries

Games and Learning in the Library

Mark Perkins, Librarian

We all play games. They are engaging, entertaining, enlightening and/or educational. If they are not, we don’t play them. Some games we play alone. Some we play together. Some we play alone together. But no matter what or how we play, games are powerful spaces for exploration and connection. Through games, we collect and utilize information, as we negotiate worlds of meaning.    

The best games invite us to problem solve and strategize, as well as to question the basic objectives, systems and rules defining the game (rock, paper, scissors—anyone?). Because games are constructs made by people, they reflect social, political and economic systems at play in our world. They are cultural constructs, but not culturally neutral, and they are full of information worthy of study. Why do kings beat queens? Why does a plumber eat fireflowers and wear a racoon suit? How is Monopoly still popular after all these years? Who is shooting whom in first-person shooters? Where’s the diversity in boardgame or videogame characters? Why are so few of the female characters wearing sensible shoes? Why are we always collecting coins, or gems or fake dollar bills? See? When it comes to games, there are a lot of questions to investigate.

To get answers, or to develop deeper questions, come to the Madison College Libraries. You can study games, game design, and game creation, through the hundreds of credible electronic books and videos to which we provide free access. You can also research the cultural, social, psychological and economic issues related to games via the hundreds of thousands of reputable articles available through our databases. That’s all in addition to our online research guide, which will connect you to education games, game research and other game-related resources at:   

At the library, we recognize that games are vehicles for learning. You can play our trivia games to test your knowledge of the curious and obscure. Or, you can explore our links to some “serious games,” like Win the White House, which is fun and timely. Of course, we also invite you to reach out to us and tell us about games you like to play and what they mean to you. Until then, Game on!