Library of Games: Translating Video Game Interest into Real-World Journalism

December 17, 2013
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm PST
By Educator Innovator

The crew from “Library of Games”, a YOUmedia Chicago-based podcast, shared how they merged personal interests with digital skill-building and gave us an inside look at their production process.

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (06:31) Library of Games began because, when we first opened, I noticed teens playing a lot of video games and not in YOUmedia programs. So I thought, “How do I engage them? Let’s do a blog workshop” and that failed–no one wanted to write blogs after school…and that’s where the podcast came around. It was an easier way for teens being able to express how they felt about video games.
  • (09:26) I’m very grateful that I found out about YOUmedia…a lot of the staff members really enjoy my active participation and the way I just kind of jump into things here.
  • (11:40) I definitely think that I did have to improve my writing and my rhetorical skills. Because you can’t just walk into Library of Games and say, “Well, I think Call of Duty sucks!” We have a handy chart here, “How To Talk About Video Games”: Opinion, Description, Context, Analysis, Entertainment
  • (14:57) How do you open up the doors to all sorts of students who might have interest [in this kind of program]? Is there outreach that happens as part of this? Because it really seems that it’s making the library relevant.
  • (17:25) We have Taylor and Violet as the two girls in our podcast. And it’s a shame because I would like to have a lot more gender diversity within the podcast, but it’s just who’s interested and who’s not at this point.
  • (20:36) John, could you say a little bit about how you build a podcast in terms of the content and what you decide to talk about on them?
  • (26:50) John, as you make you way through high school, how does gaming relate to any of those class or any of that learning that you do? How does this skill of bringing up points that spark thoughtful discussion relate to school or literacy for you?
  • (27:54) What I feel like I’ve learned from my English class is when to look into a work and when not to…With games, you can say “Oh, this is a fun little platformer game”–you identify it for what it is. I feel like a lot of the terms and literary devices I’ve learned through my English classes helped me tear into games…
  • (30:39) I think the [educational potential of video games] is still a very hard sell for a lot of teachers to see the value in that. And I think it comes from being outside of their comfort zone. We often try to tell students that you learn by going outside your comfort zone, but, then we as teachers don’t like to do that ourselves. You have this dichotomy of expectations…
  • (33:03) Podcasts can be really simple. We use USB mics and, really, if you’ve got a Mac computer, all you have to do is plug-in that USB mic, open up GarageBand and go.
  • (39:16) John, when you walked into Library of Games–you were a gamer but not yet a Library of Games member–was it easy to pick-up the podcasting stuff? Did you have a mentor?
  • (41:18) Once you get the hang of it and into the rhythm of it, podcasts can sometimes be conducted without hand signals at all and is the single most beautiful, cohesive form of camaraderie that I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a very give-take, harmonious kind of moment.
  • (42:53) One thing that we’ve found with podcasting is that some of our struggling writers shine in podcasting because their writing is not visible–they can use their thoughts and use their voice in a way that makes them experts. From the teacher standpoint, that’s a magical moment for me.
  • (44:44) John, how has your time with Library of Games made you think differently about school itself, how you apply yourself in school, plans after high school, or anything that connects to your life?
  • (45:55) Library of Games didn’t make me feel afraid to learn…In our society today, learning is kind of a “shamed upon” thing in a lot of aspects. It ranges from people being like, “No, you shouldn’t learn that, you’re a [identity label here]” to things like, “Wow, you don’t know about [this thing]?! Let’s shame him so that next time he knows that, when he doesn’t know about a thing, to never ask anyone again!”…I feel like Library of Games had made me apply myself more to not only educate myself, but to educate others and allow them to let themselves be educated.
  • (49:18) Taylor, when you think about “success” in Library of Games, what does that look like? Where do you see success transfer out of Library of Games for the teens?
  • (49:55) What’s more important to me is that all the students in Library of Games have developed an interest and passion, not just in video games, but in looking at their world critically…The kids in Library of Games don’t necessarily have to move on to journalism or move on to work in the video game industry. For this to be a success, I think it’s really about developing that critical perspective.
  • (52:54) I wish there was a way to partner/filter back into schools–it’s just something we have to be aware of. We don’t want kids being left out of opportunities. We want to make sure that opportunity for exploration, for creativity, and for voice is available to as many students as possible.
  • (56:27) Although YOUmedia isn’t school–it’s almost a ‘school after school’–but a school for the things you want to do. The passions that you have in life, you can explore here…It’s all about experimenting, taking what you’ve learned and actually applying it to your real life.

From this Series:

View the Conversation
During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtags #connectedlearning and #hivebuzz.

Guests for this webinar included:

  • Elsa Rodriguez – Programs Manager for Hive Chicago
  • Taylor Bayless – Librarian at YOUmedia Chicago and leader of “Library of Games”
  • John – Season 9 host of “Library of Games”
  • Kevin Hodgson – Sixth grade teacher in Southampton, Massachusetts, and technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project

Resources for this webinar:


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