By Lisa Oswald

Digital innovations meet vintage video games. This glorious combination of two technological novelties will now be available to University of Wisconsin–Stout students in the Robert S. Swanson Learning Library starting Wednesday, March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Introducing a brand new library space devoted to study, work, teaching and play, the UW–Stout Gaming and Digital Innovation Lab features a catalog of video game history spanning nearly 40 years,” boasts a promotional poster for the new game lab.

This two-year project began in May 2013 and was introduced by an idea from Dr. Andrew Williams, an assistant professor for the Game Design major. He had gotten a grant to collect vintage video games to use for educational purposes in his classes and wanted to expand the collection. He brought his idea to Cory Mitchell, the collection development librarian, who has the ability to collect such items.

Matt Decker-Maurer, the library I.T. Technician, had a project underway to introduce a new digital innovation lab to the library, equipped with high-end computers that can handle more designing programs. Williams and Mitchell combined their ideas with Decker-Maurer’s project, and the Gaming and Digital Innovation Lab project was born. These three gentlemen launched an impressive collaborative campaign to bring all three of their concepts and ideas together.

However, this is not just a spot for the vintage video game addicts. “This is a spot for campus community,” said Decker-Maurer.

 The learning outcomes from the lab reach much further than just gaming itself. It was meant to be an educational experience, using the idea of a “makerspace.”

“It’s a place where people come together to learn and create with technology,” said Mitchell.

 Each station in the lab is named after famous video game characters like Mario, Ms. Pacman, Samus Aran and Princess Zelda. There are currently 11 systems including Atari, PlayStation 1 and 2, Sega  Genesis and an Xbox 360. Visitors can check out games and bring them into the lab to use. The vintage video game collection has more than 180 titles in addition to the library’s 130 Xbox 360 games.

This lab will allow instructors of all departments to bring in their classes for learning experiences.  In fact, a huge takeaway from the lab is that videogames are relevant to many different subjects and encourage critical thinking, problem solving and story telling. For more information, visit the library’s circulation desk.

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