Libraries in Games

I've posted before about having a stronger library presence in World of Warcraft, and now someone has done it for the game Second Life. The Alliance Library System and OPAL are offering virtual library programs IN the game itself. The Second Life Library blog talks about how they're doing, and shows some great screenshots from the game.

Second Life hasn't perked my interest so much, since it seems to be very Sims-like...have a virtual life in a world much like our own. I've always been more attracted to fantasy and sci-fi worlds (to my mind, I get enough of my own first life, thanks). That very aspect is part of what makes it attractive for offering real life library services, however.

I still think the library could have more of a positive impact in WoW. The books already populating the shelves there could be circulating, perhaps containing some of the great content for profession guides and such that's being published on the community site and other places. The librarian could be a PC (like the game masters) that a player could ask for information (instead of having to toggle out of the game to look things up on thottbot or the wiki). That would be a cool job!

Some questions have been asked about how featuring library services in a game helps promote libraries as a whole. There are many answers, but the one that appeals to me is that people take some of their in-game experiences to heart. If, in Second Life, they have fun in the virtual library and they know those players are real librarians, they get a new idea about what a librarian is. It's not just someone surrounded by books telling them to shush. A librarian can be someone cool who plays Second Life. And loves both enough to combine them. Similarly, in WoW, a librarian is someone you can go to for information, to ask questions.

The in-game librarian could also accept tells for questions. Just imagine how nice the general chat would then be, without someone asking 5 times an hour, "NY1 see Mountaineer Dolf?"

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