videogames: coming soon to a library near you?

According to the Daily Illini, the University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign’s Undergraduate Library is pioneering archival and checkout processes for videogames, and in doing so, making a strong argument for their important academic and social roles.  You can check out their collection here, which boasts a wide assortment of contemporary and vintage games, as well as access to the respective consoles on which to play them.  [hat-tip: grand text auto]

The undergraduate library committed to the idea of stocking video games as early as spring of 2006 for three main reasons: research needs, preserving culture, and teaching and entertainment purposes.

“These are three different goals, but all serve a purpose in the video gaming collection,” [Lisa] Hinchliffe  said.

There is a group of faculty at the University who are doing research on gaming and the library is doing its best to supply resources for such research, Hinchliffe said.

Michelle Hinn, a graduate student in educational psychology and an instructor in Library and Information Science, is researching on accessibility in video games for the disabled. Hinn is working to promote awareness about giving the option of playing video games to people with disabilities.

Hinn campaigns for video game developers to think about ways of designing their games to accommodate disabled people, such as captioning games, changing the layout of game controllers, easier modes of play and better gaming manuals. Hinn said she believes in the “right of fun.”

“The ‘right of fun’ is this idea that games are important, that leisure is important to all of us,” Hinn said. “There’s something I like about video games and I want others to partake in that performance. That’s what drives me to try to get word out as much as possible.”

Hinchliffe added that the library is collecting video games because no other library is doing similar things for any other reason than for entertainment. Cultural preservation is significant in that video games are a cultural production of contemporary society, Hinchliffe said. “One of the important things libraries do is collect the intellectual output of not only scholars, but our culture as a whole,” Hinchliffe said. “We think it’s important to capture these and to preserve them because people want to use them now and probably analyze them in 30 years.”

The last mission the library strived to fulfill is providing resources for class material. Hinchliffe said the library has been asked to make games available to students for them to play and analyze.



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