Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pieces of Programming: Tween/Teen Flashback Day

While many of my library kids may never know much of the technology I did as a child, I've found that there is one definite way to bridge our generational gap: GAMING!  If I put a record and record player in front of my kids, there's a good chance only one or two of them will know how to make them work, but if I put an original Nintendo system in front of an eight year old, they'll beat a game that I never could.  In that frame of mind, I decided to host a flashback day for our tweens and teens to allow them a chance to look at how far games have come, and where they may go.  

This was a pretty easy program to pull off, with my only major supplies being old gaming systems that many of our staff already had at home.  I decorated the teen room with historic photos of community buildings, to show how our town has changed over the years.  Teens got a kick out of seeing their high school as it was in the 70's, and ads from McDonalds and TV Guide.  I also made it a point to put up old Toys R Us gaming ads to show how much games used to cost and what they looked like.

When it came to the actual gaming portion of the program, it was really just a free play day.  We had systems such as the original Nintendo and PlayStation which we set up in the teen room so that everyone could have the opportunity to try a few old games and compare them to what we play now.  There were a couple of moments where teens felt the need to tell me how to play, and I had to remind them that I was um,..alive, when Super Mario Brothers was originally out and that I kind of knew how to play.  My obligatory feeling old moment of the program.  They somehow find a way in every program to remind me that I am "old" to them.  Sigh.

Now, the other half of the program was an engineering theme.  With the systems that did not work, I allowed the teens and tweens to dissect them.  We opened them up, looked at how they were made and even shaped.  We also looked at the differences between cartridges, discs and mini-disks, and talked about why different systems may have used different game types.

After checking out the systems, everyone was invited to create their own version of what they think the newest gaming systems would look like.  Again, this was an easy material craft.  I provided paper and pencils...that's it!  I was really outdone by some of the ideas we received, and where they felt gaming is headed.  Virtual reality and hands free gaming were the overall themes of our submissions, but the system ideas themselves seemed extremely cool and unique. We all voted on the ideas that were submitted, and the winner received a "brand new" Atari Flashback system.   

This was a really fun program, that only really cost me the price of the Atari, which was about $45 on Amazon.  It connected all ages from about 8 to 20, and got us all thinking outside the box about what gaming has meant in our society and where it may go in the future.  Most importantly, it was a great way to talk about history, in a medium my teens AND tweens were comfortable with.  I had a great time.

Here are some of the entries:


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