Runescape is a massively multiplayer online role playing game, set in a medieval fantasy style world. It’s fairly easy to master, it’s a long and deep game, and there are lots of ways to play (focus on chat, focus on quests, focus on leveling, focus on crafting, focus on making money). It’s popular with teens at a lot of libraries across the country, and UNPOPULAR with librarians because of it’s heavy use of chat, bandwith hog nature, and the undesirable behavior that is actually common to the age group (socializing, talking about the game, hopping out of chairs to see other player’s screens and offer assistance).
Some librarians ban Runescape. Smart libraries harness it’s popularity and build an easy program around it. Others fully embrace it and develop contests and discussion groups around Runescape. Not comfortable with Runescape? Organize a mini-lan party around Maple Story, Gaia, Teen Second Life, Small Worlds…
You don’t have to play yourself, to offer Runescape Club! Simply reserve a handful of computers specifically for Runescape, and take sign-ups. If you can give them extra computer time (like, 2 hours, instead of 1, great!). Watch them play. Ask questions. Consider setting up a laptop & projector so they can take turns logging in to show their characters and inventories. Raffle off premium subscriptions ($5.00 for one month).
Glendale Public Library’s Velma Teague Branch offers Runescape Club twice a month, from 2-3 and 3-4 on a Saturday afternoon. Each session seats six players (Terry says one week he took a break and gave up his smooth gaming laptop to a seventh player). Some tips from Terry, librarian facilitator, follow.
- Rule # 1: Runescape is the only site allowed
- No formal agenda, other than to play Runescape
- Do reminder phone calls so kids show up
- Arrange to redirect bandwith to laptops for duration of program
- Program runs for one hour, two back-to-back sessions. If slots don’t fill up in session 2, session 1 participants may stay
- Require users to have accounts already when they come in
- Suggestions for getting a unique username:
- Consider the kind of character you want to have. then brainstorm names that fit that class.
- Maybe there is a character from history, television, movies, or books whose name you want to use!
- It’s ok if you want to use your own name; some tricks to disguise it: add some letters and numbers
- Check in with them periodically to see if they need help
- Get kids to help one another!
- Invite kids to bring music – load iPods into radio/speaker/clock radio, taking turns playing music
- Snacks recommended
- “There’s one thing that has gotten better in real life because of Runescape is my typing skills.”
- “This is the only time I get to play”
- Get a premium account (cost $5.00.month)
- Can we do this every week?
- “I play World of Warcraft, too” (teen listed off 4 mid-level characters)
This was a fun experience to observe and participate in. I marveled at the new & improved graphics, and played through the entire tutorial as infogdss29. It’s nice that you don’t have to choose from so many professions and crafts; anyone can mine, make weapons, fish, cook and cast spells, it seems. I was very proud of killing my first giant rat, and not burning shrimp over a cookfire, and smelting bronze bars to create a dagger. A grant for a half dozen gaming laptops would really make the program soar.
Thanks to GPL’s Velma Teague Branch for letting me sit in, and to the participants, for helping me when I got stuck.