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ANNUAL CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS

ALACognotes

2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Highlights Issue

Jane McGonigal Connects the Dots From Game to the Brain

By Brad Martin
LAC Group

Jane McGonigal opened the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas June 27, telling the audience how 10 positive emotions experienced in the brains of gamers not only mean great hope for solving real world problems in the future, but also for harnessing power today.

McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, played her first computer game in 1986 at a school library in Morristown, N.J. She drew a sharp contrast between the degree to which the global workforce and gamers are engaged in their respective activities — pointing out that 81 percent of the global workforce do not feel engaged with their work and what they are doing, and this costs companies about $3.1 trillion a year (Gallup 2013). Gamers, numbering about one billion worldwide, are much more engaged in their activities and experience a whole range of feelings McGonigal called “positive emotions,” which she demonstrated in a series of photographs of wide-ranging facial expressions of gamers in action. These 10 positive emotions are joy, relief, love, surprise, pride, curiosity, excitement, awe and wonder, contentment, and creativity. Creativity is the most positive of these emotions, McGonigal said, adding, “these are the faces you want to see in your library.”

“The opposite of play isn't work. It's depression.”

She pointed out how specific areas of the brain “light up” during interactive game playing, but do not during passive exposure. Games teach players that it is possible to learn how to solve sometimes difficult challenges and the positive reinforcement they receive makes for an “upward cascade” of improvement, she said.

“Games make us more resilient,” said McGonigal, explaining how “super-empowered, hopeful individuals” are more likely to be able to collaborate — unlike in much of the working world, where

» see page 6

Opening General Session presenter Jane McGonigal describes how alternate reality games affect the brain.


Video Highlights of the 2014 Annual Conference & Exhibition

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07X0peeFYOc


Session Concludes Successful Annual Conference with B.J. Novak

Author, actor and stand-up comedian B.J. Novak traced his journey from a boyhood obsessed with libraries to his emergence as an author whose recent children's “picture” book appears on library shelves, at the July 1 Closing Session.

Novak, who is probably best known for his role as Ryan on the sitcom “The Office,” charmed the crowd from the start, when he announced that he was excited to speak before thousands of librarians in Las Vegas.

Novak said that his first ambition — before he wanted to be an actor or a writer or a player for the Boston Red Sox — was to become a librarian.

“I was enthralled by the library in my elementary school, where anything

» see page 14

B.J. Novak speaks at the Closing General Session.


Lowry and Bridges Talk Creativity, Collaboration, Community

By Brad Martin LAC Group

Author Lois Lowry and L actor Jeff Bridges shared their personal memories, creative processes, and responsibilities as artists at the ALA President's Program on June 29.

Lowry, whose book The Giver has been made into a film to be released in August, and Bridges, who plays the title character, conversed with each other as they responded to ALA President Barbara K. Stripling's questions. The audience was treated to a “sizzle reel” of the film, which also stars Meryl Streep.

The subject of memory, central to the themes of The Giver, was explored, and

» see page 9

ALA President Barbara K. Stripling interviews award-winning actor, producer, and country musician Jeff Bridges and best-selling youth author and two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry during the ALA President's Program.

In This Issue