Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

Halo and Clever Kids

I don’t mind the game. Honestly, I don’t. I’m a science fiction and fantasy fan, so really, the basic premise is fine. And of course, who doesn’t want to be an amazing “fighter/warrior/marine,” the underdog, who takes on the Covenant, one mission at a time, one day of reckoning after another? Looks like some kind of fun.

That is, until last week when suddenly, out of fourteen computers on our main floor in the library, there were 12 kids who were playing Halo on our computers. . . . against each other.

How did they do that? That kind of game would normally bring our bandwidth to its knees.

So here were all these middle and high school boys (ok, there was one girl) on our computers and the place was quiet, too quiet? apparently, they were either using headsets or they simply played without the sound. That’s a lot of shooting; I thought the gun sounds were part of the fun.

Anywayyyyy, as much as I enjoyed having the kids, I had to find out how they were accomplishing this feat. It turned out that one (or more of them) had figured out how to get the game on a thumb drive, download it temporarily onto a computer and then the rest of the kids would access the game through our local LAN. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible.

I called our computer department to give them a heads up and sure enough, a few days later I got the verdict: although the kids hadn’t done any damage to our network yet, the chance for a virus to piggyback onto an illegal bootleg copy of the game was high. The kids had to cease and desist.

In a way, I felt bad. They were having a blast. I even heard kids saying, with shocked voices, “Wow, man, we were playing Halo at the library!” Yes, for those few days, the buzz was big, and the library was a cool place to go.

Gotta figure out how to capture that excitement legally. Sigh.

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Bandwidth vs. Regulars

Well, some of our regulars have learned the magic word that really runs the show: bandwidth!

When our bandwidth is maxed out, everyone can tell. Games, tunes, MySpace, Facebook, you name it, they all come to a virtual standstill. Our reference desk has “traffic grapher” so we can tell if it’s incoming or outgoing traffic that is maxing us out. But since our branch is small, we usually walk around to let people know the slow down is due to a bandwidth issue. While we’re strolling through the public PC’s, we also scan for possible culprits. Generally, it’s hard to tell, so we gently mention that “someone” is uploading (or downloading) a large file and it’s affecting everyone’s performance. We hope for a little peer pressure–sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The regular “boys” are the ones who get the most frustrated since their gaming is affected immediately: nothing worse than a medieval army getting caught up in a bandwidth vacuum. One day, our “Larry” (see previous post), decided to take matters into his own hands and came up to the desk and asked that we check the bandwidth. He said the librarians needed to walk the floor and get the other gamers off the pipe. When the librarian asked him why?, he informed her that he was at a critical point in his game and that took priority over the other games.

Interesting point of view.

It’s amazing how the expectations for service expand with the capability. It’s never enough. Certainly, we’ll never have enough bandwidth to satisfy the needs of all of our clients. As more and more apps move to the web, the demands will become greater, and not just for gamers. It’s a web world.

Amazingly enough, three of the seven guys who come in every day are now on laptops. I have no idea how they got them and I don’t ask. For them, it’s a huge win. They see it as a way to the web with less restraints and librarian monitoring. The only boondoggle? Bandwidth. I wonder if they’ll figure out that the laptops get dropped from the pipe first when traffic maxes? I think I’ll keep that piece of info to myself.