4 July 2014

Youth Gaming Club a huge success for Manukau Library

Big screens, Xboxes and teens whooping it up: it’s not your traditional library vignette but the scene you’ll find every second Sunday afternoon at Manukau Library.

Two boys playing video games.
The Youth Gaming Club was immediately
That’s when the Youth Gaming Club meets. This event is the brainchild of Library Assistant Joseph Tarrant who, as a heavy gamer himself, understood gaming was a great way to break the ice with youth and encourage them into the library space.

“I began the event in September last year with the intention to make a time just for teens, where they can relax, enjoy the library and play some games with their friends. The event is informal and held in the Youth section itself. It helps our young people claim the section as their own and it’s awesome to see our youth enjoying themselves in a safe environment,” Joseph said.

The club has proven to be instantly popular, with around 10-15 young people taking part each session. Joseph said he constantly sees new faces each month, including the first girl gamers recently joining the fold. While the number of attendees means there is some wait time for everyone to have a turn, this hasn’t been an issue so far.

“I’ve seen with the youth that have been coming to play that they really enjoy playing in a group, because if they aren’t playing themselves, they can still cheer their mates on,” he said.

One hurdle the club has faced has been choosing the games to play. Because of the age restrictions on shooter-style games and with most attendees being 14 and under, the focus has been on racing and sport games. The recent addition of the Xbox Kinnect has allowed the group to play newer games like Sonic Racing Transformed and Kinnect Sports, which Joseph said were hugely enjoyed.

Three boys playing video games.
Big screen action at Manukau Library's Youth Gaming Club.
The initial equipment needed to set up the club - Xbox and Kinnect consoles - has been provided by Auckland Libraries. The club’s aims tie in with one of the priorities identified for children and youth services in Auckland Libraries’ 10-year plan, Te Kauroa – Future Directions: to “engage young people through gaming and fun online learning opportunities.”

The popularity of the club and the connections Joseph has forged with young users of Manukau Library recently saw him approached by the Media Design School to hold a special session to introduce the club to the virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift. More than 50 people attended the event in January, including both children and adults, who got a chance to try out this new and exciting technology, including games developed by the school’s own students.

Joseph says he's thrilled with the success of the Manukau Library Youth Gaming Club and is keen to see more libraries to get on board.

“I’ve learned from this event that something as simple as putting out an Xbox with some games to play is all that is needed to bring youth together, to bring out smiles and laughter, and honestly it’s the best thing to be part of,” he said.

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