Where before there were shelves of magazines, old copies of New York Times book reviews and hundreds of DVDs, the media room in the basement of the Harold and Wilma Good Library is redecorated with soft lighting, chairs, a 62-inch flatscreen TV and a PlayStation 5.According to Kelsey McLane, services specialist at the library, the repurposing of the media room to a video game space is part of the library’s efforts to shift from an academic storehouse of books toward a studying and gathering space. “The space is open whenever the library is open,” said McLane.
Additions to circulation include two Nintendo Switches and around 50 games, as well as three other mini consoles with pre-programmed games that will stay in the library. The Nintendo Switches can be checked out for a week, and the games for 30 days.
One of the consultants for the video games in the library was Jeanette Shown, professor of computer science and information technology. She also leads the esports club, and said she is excited: “Games are good things. … Play nurtures the human spirit and brings the community together.”
She quoted Dutch historian Johan Huizinga, saying that “‘culture arises in and out of play.’ Because of that, we tried to pick really nice games to support the culture [at GC].”
Jonathan Weaver, a junior sustainability major, works at the library and went to the grand opening of the video game room. On his first (and only) attempt, Weaver, along with junior Brenton Pham, set up a split-screen and took a “victory royale” in Fortnite, a online multiplayer game.
“It was a big adrenaline rush,” Weaver said. “I felt pretty accomplished. … [We] achieved something no one will ever achieve again.”
Shown herself plays video games “when there’s time — it’s harder to do when you’re working more than 40 hours a week.” She is a part of the International Game Developers Association, and recently tested a game called “Haven” from Turkish developers.
“I’m going to make certain I pull my classes down for at least one day out of each semester,” Shown said. “Let’s have some fun. See how bad your professor is, have good laughs … laughter is forgiveness.”
McLane said that the library “knows that college students are under a lot of stress,” and so this helps the library be an “engaging place [to] come unwind and be social.”
Jenner Roddammer, a senior social work major, doesn’t “have a great history of playing video games.” He plans on checking out the Nintendo Switch soon, though, to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
According to McLane, turning libraries from just academic resources into collaboration spaces is a growing trend. She hopes that it becomes a space for “events and contests, and especially to appeal to commuters and maybe their younger siblings, too.”
For Shown, video games have a larger purpose: “If you don’t have a community that plays, then nobody knows what it’s like to be fully human.”