Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Brief History of PlayStation

When Sony entered the video game market with their PlayStation system in 1995 it turned the gaming world on its head. Despite a few failed attempts from Sega, the PlayStation was the first successful disc based game console and thus helped lead games away from the tried-and-true cartridge format and in to the brave new world of CDs. The PlayStation was a huge success and would become the first console ever to ship 100 million units. 

The PlayStation actually began life as collaboration between Sony and Nintendo. In the early 1990s Sony was developing a disc based add-on for Nintendo’s Super Nintendo system but, after financial disputes, Nintendo pulled the plug on the project. Sony went on to continue production of the PlayStation and when the system hit shelves a few years later it was in direct competition with Nintendo.

Sony aggressively marketed their machine as a more mature and adult oriented console, not only in their advertising but also with the focus of their top tier titles. While Nintendo had begun to be known as a family friendly machine with their mascots like Mario and censoring of certain titles, Sony positioned the PlayStation as an edgier, “cooler” console with titles like Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, and Tomb Raider.

Unlike Nintendo, who owns all of their biggest properties and develops their own offering of titles “in house”, Sony is not particularly renowned for making games. Instead, all of the biggest hits for the PlayStation are produced by what are known as third-party publishers. Game companies such as EA, Activision, and Rockstar create titles and then release them, sometimes exclusively to one system but often across platforms.
In the year 2000 the successor to the PlayStation, aptly named the PlayStation 2, ushered in a new era of Sony dominance. The PlayStation 2 is the highest selling system of all time with more than 150 million units sold. More than three thousand games were made for the system and, as a result of the overwhelming popularity of the console, software continued to be produced for the aging machine for years after the release of its successor. By the end of its lifespan the PS2 had been active for thirteen years, an unprecedented run in console history.

The PS2 established Sony as the new leader in gaming as it decimated its direct competition the Sega Dreamcast and effectively sent that company out of the console making business. The PS2, behind the strength of blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, and Final Fantasy, reigned supreme over the market for seven years. The machine played a pivotal role in Sony overtaking Nintendo as the de facto head of gaming and also fended off the threat of Microsoft’s emergence in to the field with their Xbox system.

The PlayStation 3 was released in 2006 and introduced blu-ray, high definition, motion control, and much more robust online capabilities to the Sony brand. While the system was certainly a success with more than 80 million units sold, it was not able to entirely live up to the high bar set by its predecessor. More significantly, the PS3 lost ground to Sony’s competition with the overwhelmingly positive response the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 received.

Sony has ventured in to the portable gaming market with mixed results. Their first handheld system, the PlayStation Portable, was largely a success and was the first time anyone had posed a serious threat to Nintendo’s iron grip on portable gaming. Unfortunately, with the rise of smart devices and the popularity of the Nintendo DS, Sony’s current portable machine, the PlayStation Vita, has failed to gain much traction.

With the release of the PlayStation 4 in 2013 Sony is back on top of the gaming throne. The PS4 broke records right out of the gate by selling over a million units in twenty four hours, earning it the distinction of the most successful system launch ever. Nearly a year after its release it has doubled the total sales of the Xbox One and has already surpassed Nintendo’s Wii U, which released a year earlier. The PS4 already seems set to dominate this generation of systems, with many observers and analysts proclaiming that it has already won this round of console wars.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mario Kart Tournament

Tournament Champion Josh Faulders (left) and the three other finalists race for the grand prize. 

The library's first ever video game tournament was an outstanding success with a great turnout and some big time fun. More than two dozen gamers competed in a three round Mario Kart tournament. Josh Faulders was crowned the champion after defeating the three other finalists in a tightly contested, down to the wire race at Wario Stadium.

Snacks were served and participants were able to "free play" at a seperate station while they waited for their match in the tournament. Everyone had a good time and many expressed unbridled excitement for future events.

View photos from the event on the Collinsville Library's Facebook page here:!/media/set/?set=a.10154483375825640.1073741859.10150098010130640&type=1

The next tournament is planned for Thursday, October 2nd from 5-7PM. We're bringing Mario and his friends back to duke it out in Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Nintendo Wii. 

All ages are welcome.  The tournament will be divided into two age groups-- ages 8-16 and ages 17+.  Controllers will be provided.  Come ready to play and win prizes!

Donations of new or gently used Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 games are encouraged to help us kick-start our new video game collection, scheduled to hit the floor this fall.

The tournament is free to play, but advance registration is required.  Call the library at 618-344-1112 or visit the Main Desk to sign up!

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Seven Questions with Staff - Theresa

Time for the next installment of our "Seven Questions with Staff" series! Today's edition features Theresa, the Head of Circulation at the Collinsville Memorial Library Center. When she's not at work, she's usually spending time with her husband and children...or just running them to all of the different activities that they're involved with! We hope you learn a little about Theresa from her replies to our questions.

Q: If you were paid to write a new book on any subject you wished, what would it be about?
A: I'd love to write a comedy about stupid things that people say and do that I encounter on a daily basis.

Q: What is your daily routine?
A: Boy do I ever have a routine...! Wake up. Kids. Work. Kids. Dinner. Kids. Kids. Kids. Kids... See the routine?! Hahahaha!

Q: What are five things you are grateful for?
A: I am grateful for so many things, but the first five I can think of would be my family, hot showers, a good book, public trash removal and pens that write nicely!

Q: Where do you shop the most?
A: Unfortunately right now with all of the construction going on around town, I have been mostly shopping at Wal-Mart.

Q: If you could buy the Catsup Bottle, what would you do with it?
A: If I could buy the Catsup Bottle, I would leave it right where it is. I would make sure it was freshly painted each year, and Santa would climb up before Christmas...and then leave after. I would turn the warehouse into an indoor play/skate park, arcade and hot dog cafe.

Q: Which famous entertainer would you like to see return from the dead?
A: I'm not sure I would want any dead entertainers coming back to life; wouldn't that mean a zombie apocalypse?!

Q: Which foreign language would you most like to learn and why?
A: The language I would most like to learn is French. My dream is to one day (when my kids are all grown) to visit the Polynesian island Bora Bora. Other than English, French and Tahitian are the native language, and I know if I could speak the native language, I might never come back home and live out the rest of my life in a bungalow over a lagoon and coral reefs.

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Brief History of Nintendo

With the Collinsville Library preparing to introduce video games in to its collection it seems apt to do a quick recap of the seminal moments in gaming history. We will start off with the granddaddy of video game companies, Nintendo.

Nintendo is perhaps the most popular, well-known, and historically significant brand in gaming. Nintendo’s pantheon of characters, such as Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong, are some of the most successful multimedia franchises of all time. There are countless toys, games, TV shows, and collectibles of Nintendo’s beloved characters and in gaming their exclusivity to Nintendo systems has kept the company flying high in boom times and afloat through the rough patches.  
Nintendo began as a playing card and toy company. The company’s foray in to video games in the late seventies began with arcade cabinets and simple, one-game home machines. The Game & Watch was the first portable gaming system in 1980 but like their previous machines the system could only play one pre-loaded game. It wasn’t until 1983 and the release of the Famicom, known outside of Japan simply as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), that the company really found the essence of what it continues to exist on today.
The NES was a revolution in video games. While there had been a few home video game consoles from companies like Atari, the NES is when the trend of game systems really bloomed. A big part of the system’s success came from a little game called Super Mario Bros. which turned gaming culture on its head with its challenging yet accessible game play and (for the time) sophisticated graphics.
Super Mario Bros. was produced by a young man named Shigeru Miyamoto who would go on to introduce some more of the most important franchises in gaming history for Nintendo, including Zelda and Donkey Kong. Miyamoto has had a hand in every Mario and Zelda title ever released and continues to work exclusively with the company to this day.
In 1989 Nintendo released the Game Boy, a handheld video game system that utilized cartridge games like the NES. This was a major progression from the Game & Watch and behind the strength of blockbusters like Kirby and Tetris the Game Boy became an international phenomenon. Ever since Nintendo’s fortunes have been heavily tied to the handheld market and until the relatively recent rise of mobile device they were practically unchallenged in the field.
The Super Nintendo (SNES) in 1990 featured a 16-bit processor which doubled the power of the NES’s 8-bit capabilities and allowed for far more advanced games. Graphics, sound, speed, length, and memory are some of the components that were greatly enhanced with the upgrade and games like Mario and Zelda exploded in popularity and found new audiences with the fresh coat of paint. It was at this time that full-fledged video game fever hit America as Nintendo duked it out with a new company called Sega and their mascot Sonic the Hedgehog  in what is widely regarded as the first “console war”.
Although Nintendo would prevail in its battle against Sega it would soon face new competition when Sony entered the market with its Playstation system, which had originally been developed as a Nintendo add-on. The next Nintendo system, the Nintendo 64, was a huge jump forward from the SNES and was even significantly more powerful than its rivals the Playstation and Sega Saturn. The 64-bit system introduced 3D graphics to gaming and was home to what continue to be some of the most popular and well-received games of all time including Super Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Released in 1996, it was the last home console to utilize the cartridge format.
While the company began to be entrenched in the home console market, its handheld offerings expanded with several expansions of the Game Boy that were met with ever increasing success. The Game Boy Pocket simply trimmed the original model down while the Game Boy Color introduced colored graphics to the popular mobile machine. In 2001 the Game Boy Advance showcased power in a handheld machine that was about equal to the Super Nintendo home console.
Nintendo’s fourth major TV-system, the Gamecube, was also released in 2001 and was the first machine from the company to utilize discs instead of cartridges. The Gamecube struggled against stiff competition from Sony’s Playstation 2 and Microsoft’s emergence in to the field with their Xbox console. The Gamecube is perhaps best remembered for taking chances with the big Nintendo franchises in an effort to revitalize the company’s long running brands. Zelda was re-imagined with a cartoon style known as cell shading, Mario was given a water jetpack to hop around with, and Donkey Kong was turned in to a conga based rhythm game.
With critics, competitors, and pundits pointing to the end of the company following the Gamecube’s lackluster reception, Nintendo knew it was on the ropes and had to fight back from the edge. As the company prepared to launch their new handheld system the Nintendo DS, which utilized a dual set up of a display screen and touch screen, Nintendo founder Fusajiro Yamauchi famously prophesied that “"The DS represents a critical moment for Nintendo's success over the next two years. If it succeeds, we rise to the heavens, if it fails, we sink into hell." Luckily for Yamauchi and Nintendo fans everywhere the DS was a smash success and helped to lift the company from the brink of ruin.
Shortly after, in 2006, Nintendo came back swinging with the release of the Nintendo Wii. The Wii would go on to break company records and become Nintendo’s best selling home console ever. With the Wii Nintendo again revolutionized video games with the system’s ground breaking motion controls. Long running series such as Mario Kart and Metroid found new life on the system and Nintendo finally embraced emerging trends in the console world such as online connectivity. Even as Sony and Microsoft put up a formidable fight with their Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 respectively, Nintendo took back the crown of video game consoles with the earth-shattering success of their new system.
Nintendo’s family of characters now plays on their new Wii U system, which features motion controls as well as a touch screen controller, and the 3DS handheld system , which acts like a DS but with the addition of 3D technology. The company continues to brawl with Sony and Microsoft and now also faces a high-stakes battle in their handheld market with the rise of mobile devices and App games. The company has vowed to never make games for a platform other than their own and swears that the day they leave the gaming business is the day franchises like Mario will be retired.
Despite what cynics and naysayers might predict that day isn’t likely to be anytime soon. Mario and his pals are as popular as ever and are at home in toy aisles, Happy Meal boxes, and novelty shops across the world. Nintendo’s characters are so well-known that it isn’t hyperbolic to say they have brightened culture far outside of their on-screen adventures and have reached that rare level of cultural immortality where generation after generation embraces them as their own.
Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August Video Game Drive

Do you know somebody who loves to play video games but doesn’t like to spend a ton of money buying them? Great news: the library will be rolling out a video game collection within the next few months. You can help kickstart the collection by donating new or gently used video games to the library during the month of August. According to Kyla Waltermire, Adult Services Librarian for the Mississippi Valley Library District, "Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 games are needed for the Collinsville Memorial Library Center and Wii games are needed for the Fairmont City Library Center."
Terry Pierson, Library Clerk and one of the fiercest advocates of adding video games to our collection, added that "Next year we will consider moving into the ‘next-gen’ systems. We are committed to staying up-to-date with the hottest, most in-demand games." Pierson also noted that there will also be regularly scheduled video game tournaments for popular titles like Super Smash Bros. and Call of Duty right here in the library!
The new collection will hit shelves by the end of the year. Stay tuned!

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Free Ebooks-- 3M Cloud

Have you checked out our new (free!) ebook service yet?  It's called 3M Cloud and is sponsored in part through a grant received by the Illinois Heartland Library System.  This new--and quickly growing--collection currently has about 9,000 free ebooks for you to check out.  Rediscover some old favorites or find a new literary love!

If listening to audiobooks is more your style, we have good news for you!  Audiobooks will be available through 3M Cloud in the very near future.  Stay tuned!

You can get started with 3M Cloud by visiting our online 3M catalog.  All you'll need is your library card and the free 3M Cloud app.  The app is available for download through the app store on your smartphone, tablet, ereader or as a computer download from the 3M getting started guide.

Give us a call at 618-344-1112 if you need a little help getting started; we're here for you!

Happy reading!

Posted by Kyla Waltermire, Adult Services Librarian

Saturday, August 02, 2014

First Day Family Fun Festival 2014

Staff members from the Mississippi Valley Library District once again represented the Collinsville Memorial Library Center and Fairmont City Library Center at Collinsville's Sixth Annual "First Day Family Fun Festival", which is held at the beginning of every school year at the Gateway Center. 

The purpose of the First Day event is to strengthen the relationship between the Unit 10 School District and the City government, all while showcasing everything the City, School District, civic groups, and businesses have to offer residents of the community. 

At the library's booth, staff members encouraged people to sign-up for library cards, promoted the library district's upcoming programs, raffled off prizes and let children (and a few adults!) take a spin on the Wheel of Prizes. Over 475 people spun the wheel/won a prize and 329 people entered our raffle drawings!

(Yes, that's a #BookabellaSelfie in the bottom right hand corner...)

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant