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Thursday, August 3, 2017

ARRT Speculative Fiction Genre Study Today Featuring My Notes on Video Games and a HUGE Announcement

That headline probably threw a few of you for a loop. Video Games?!?!

Well today is the latest installment of the ARRT Speculative Fiction Genre Study and we are tackling Movies, TV, and Video games-- or in library lingo Whole Collection RA for speculative fiction. Yes we are talking about the non-book science fiction, fantasy, and horror items that we check out in large numbers at our libraries but for which many of us book centric RA people don't know how to suggest or guide patrons.

[Oh and for that huge announcement in the headline, you have to wait until the end of the post]

Here is today's assignment.

Movies, TV, and Video GamesAugust 3, 2017, 2-4 PM
Glenview Public Library
Check out the featured resources: Black Girl NerdsIGNNerdMuch? 
Watch at least one of each genre (preferably something new to you). If you watch a TV show, try at least a couple of episodes. 
SF ·         The Arrival (2016)·         Ex Machina (2015)·         Blade Runner (1982)·         Battlestar Galactica (TV 2004-2009)·         Any Star Trek (movie or TV)·         Black Mirror (TV 2001-; skip first episode “The National Anthem”)·         Alien (1979) 
Fantasy·         Any Star Wars (movies or animated, just don’t start with Episode I for heaven’s sake)·         The Lord of the Rings trilogy (any film)·         Any Harry Potter film·         Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)·         Spirited Away (2001) 
Horror·         Get Out (2017)·         The Cabin in the Woods (2012)·         Rosemary’s Baby (1968)·         Night of the Living Dead (1968)·         Penny Dreadful (TV 2014-2016)

So I am in charge of talking about video games today. Now let me be clear, I know more about video games than the average public librarian, but I am not even close to an expert. That is a huge point I want to make in this post however. When you lead a genre study you DO NOT need to be an expert on the topic.

Let me say that again slightly differently...even someone who knows nothing about a topic can still lead a genre study on that topic. Why? Because of a little thing we call resources. We are all library workers. We all know how to do research. We don’t know the answer to every question, but we do know how to find the answer. This is not are information to anyone reading this, yet for some reason you all think that when it comes to leisure reading we have to intimately know a genre and like it in order to teach it. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

In fact in a genre study, everyone is learning together and sometimes the experience is enhanced if the leader is not a fan of the topic because they are more open to the information they gather as leader.

Either way, fan or not, every genre study leader needs to do research on the topic in order to “teach” it.

To that end, learning about the current state of the gaming industry is key.  As you saw above, our group was asked to review 3 resources: Black Girl NerdsIGNNerdMuch?. All three have gaming reviews, industry info, and breaking news.  We will be looking at those together and talking about trends, but quick spoiler, speculative fiction frames for video games are [and have always been] dominating the market.

Let’s start with those of us who grew up in the 80s playing all sorts of space related arcade games. The first game I ever owned for our first home computer [an Apple IIC] was a haunted house story based game featuring werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural creatures. I can’t remember the game’s name, but I clearly remember playing it and loving it.

Flash forward a few years to see games like The Legend of Zelda emerge as all time favorites and you can see that video games with well developed world building and speculative elements have always been popular.

This is because the storytelling in video games is a huge element and appeal for those who play them. Speculative fiction novels and video games are more intricately linked than many library workers realize, and I mean beyond having patrons who both read books and play games.

Look at these extensive crowdsourced lists via Wikipedia for proof:

Not only have many authors started as video game writers [one popular example is Naomi Novik] but also, many established speculative fiction print worlds have been bought by video game developers to use as the base for the intricate worlds in their games- some obviously [ex: tie-in games for Walking Dead, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings] and some subtly. It is a well know secret that without speculative fiction authors creating the worlds, characters, and storylines behind today’s elaborate video games they would not be as popular as they are.

I am going to say it at least a dozen times in this post, but every format we are discussing today is about world building and storytelling at its core. Most people who enjoy speculative fiction like everything speculative. It’s what the average American would call “nerd” culture. Think about it. Whovians love Doctor Who in all media. Ditto Star Wars, Zombie, Vampire, etc... fans. We know this   fact yet we often overlook it when helping readers. We get too stuck in the format rut and we are afraid of jumping into a world we are less comfortable with.

I also want to mane a side note about RPGs before we go too much further. Role Playing Games are also making a huge mainstream comeback. I’m not just talking about Dungeons and Dragons either. In April, when I was the first ever Librarian Special Guest at StokerCon, I also met the first ever Gaming Special Guest, Bill Bridges. Not only is he a great guy, but we were also able to have a long talk about the video gaming industry. His website has a lot of useful information. He has been involved with video games and RPGs for many years.  I will be sharing some of that insight with the group today, but for everyone, here is a Huffington Post article about his Live RPG event at StokerCon and a quote from the article:
“A particularly unique event was a game of Werewolf, hosted by White Wolf creator and writer Bill Bridges. The game participants were none other than George R.R. Martin, fellow White Wolf creator and author Chuck Wendig, Maria Alexander, who would go on to garner her second Bram Stoker Award for YA Novel, Stephen Graham Jones, a nominee for the werewolf themed Mongrels, and New York Times Best Selling author Nancy Holden. It was truly a dream lineup for any RPG fan as well as a fascinating exercise in group storytelling. Danielle DeLisle joined the game for the second half and helped the group capture the diamonds as well as werewolf bragging, er… howling rights.”
As that quote implies, and as I said above, games and books are not that dissimilar. Storytelling is at the core of both; it is just the method of how the story is delivered that varies.

Look, I could spend a few more hundred words listing the most popular speculative framed video games right now, but that is not going to help you. The resources mentioned above will handle that. Talking to your patrons who like video games will also help you. What I want to focus on here is the fact that simply understanding that both video games and books share a strong storytelling core and remembering to ask your hard core speculative fiction readers what video games, tv shows, and movies they also like, will help you to further to giving them the best experience possible. Simply remember to check the resources a few times a year and include questions about these non-book formats in your RA conversations and you are doing great.

You may not ever be comfortable suggesting a video game to a patron, but by asking them if they like video games and if yes, which ones [and why!] will go a long way toward earning your patrons’ trust and teaching you how to make cross format appeal connections. This will lead to better RA conversations, and then ultimately, a better library experience for tall of your patrons.

That is the discussion we will be having in Glenview today. We are not going to become movie, tv, and gaming experts, but we will become better at whole collection RA and at helping our patrons, and that is our goal with every Genre Study meeting. We will gather the notes and share them with everyone after the fact, here.

Now on to the big announcement.

As I mentioned yesterday, Rebecca Vnuk is leaving Booklist [today is her last day]. Rebecca did much more than just edit for Booklist, she also led their library outreach. Publisher, Bill Ott has hired me to fill some of the non-editing holes left by Rebecca's departure on a consultant basis [for now]. I will not become exclusive to Booklist but I will be taking a more official role in their library outreach in the coming months.

We are in the process of developing some brand new programming options, but for now, I will be taking over some of the already contracted Booklist and NoveList live events. The first of which fits in perfectly with this post because it is on GENRE STUDIES. Truth be told, I was going to be a part of this panel no matter what, I just went from participant to organizer.

The exact details will be coming next week, but for now save the date for a NoveList and Booklist sponsored, free, live event on August 22, 2017 from 2-3:30pm [central time]. You can attend in person at Chicago Public Library Harold Washington Center or join us virtually [live or archived].  Link here on the blog soon.

I have a panel of genre study experts lined up and I will be presenting and moderating. I have also convinced Booklist to make some changes to their website which will benefit everyone and I will be highlighting much of the new NoveList genre content, some of which is available for free whether you are a database subscriber or not. I will be unveiling all of it at the program. Please stay tuned and hold the date.

Tomorrow, I will go into more detail about Rebecca Vnuk’s new job which is a publishing venture for libraries that I am involved with and super excited about.

I warned you all I had a lot to report when I got back from vacation.....


Sarah said...

After reading this post it makes sense to me now that my reading habits tend to reflect my gaming habits. I really enjoy RPGs with a strong sense of place, open world, and a strong storyline. I get attached to characters in-game much in the way I do with books, maybe more so because the experience of playing them, making decisions in their environment, and feeling the slights they receive from enemies or other factions is a step further than most books allow for. While I don't typically go for sprawling fantasy worlds in fiction I do enjoy them in game - maybe because characters are easier to sort out once they have a face and the descriptive elements are left to the eyes and not to long passages.

A trending game genre on the Steam platform is a hybrid of the typical RPG where the game unfolds more like a story/movie/interactive book with brief intervals of player-driven interaction. It includes the game, Wolf Among Us, based on the graphic novel series Fables. It is among the newer trend of releasing small chapter of games at a time and requiring the user to purchase chapters of content (kind of annoying, I wouldn't want to purchase books in this way, although much of Dickens' stories were released in a similar method if I recall correctly. Incremental amounts of cash add up in the long run). I really enjoy Steam as a purchasing/gaming distribution platform because they provide what I guess could be called GA Gamers' Advisory, with options for narrowing the selection of games based on tone, style, and genre. Additionally it learns what you like overtime and makes weekly selections to recommend to you. A nice tool to have and a smart one since they are in it to sell games!

Becky said...

Sarah, thanks for sharing your personal experience and expertise.