Earlier this week, I took a trip to GameStop to pick up some Guitar Hero games for the tournament we held last night at our monthly Game Night program (little did college me know that all the hours he spent digitally shredding Carry On Wayward Son would someday inform professional me’s work). While there, I was approached by a man who asked me if I’m a “longtime gamer.” By the looks of him, this guy had 20-25 years on me, so anything I could conceivably have been doing a long time, he could have been doing for a lot longer time, but I told him yeah, I’ve been playing video games for most of my life, though never quite in a hardcore way, and especially less hardcore lately as the pestle that is adulthood continues its remorseless grinding away of the lingering remnants of childhood (I didn’t use those exact words, of course, but I’d like to think I implied them). This prompted him to launch into a description of a Playstation 2 game he remembered playing 15 or so years ago but hadn’t been able to remember nor hunt down the title of, despite his best efforts.
Suddenly, despite being away from the library, I found myself in reference mode (you can take the librarian out the library, but yada yada yada). Based on the man’s description of a futuristic, possibly Japanese, motorcycle racing game that took place partially in space, I had a hunch he may have been talking about Extreme G, a game mostly matching that description my brother and I had for Nintendo 64. I suspected there may have been an Extreme G game made for PS2, and Google confirmed as much. I showed the man the game’s cover and some screenshots of gameplay on my phone, and after some initial excitement and hope, he said he didn’t think that was it. A swing and a miss.
At this point, the GameStop clerk became freed up, and the man repeated his description of the game and his failed attempts to find it. While they interacted, I returned to Google. The man had told me he had at one point taken the exhaustive step of looking at a list of every PS2 game ever made and didn’t recognize any of the titles as the one he was after, but I was convinced we could find it with the right combination of search terms. The key thing my suggested Extreme G game lacked was a space setting, so I tried a search for “PS2 motorcycle racing space.” The first result was a game featuring the Looney Tunes entitled Space Race, which obviously wasn’t it, but the second result was for a game called Kinetica. I read the description, and it checked all the boxes of the elements the man told me were included in his white whale of a game. After the GameStop clerk told the man he didn’t know of such a game and appeared ready to end the interaction, I showed the man the cover and screenshots of Kinetica, and he excitedly confirmed it was the right game. Success! Then, confusingly, rather than ask the clerk to check the store’s inventory so that he might actually, you know, get to play the game, he walked out of the store as I shouted “Kinetica!,” partially to remind him of the title and partially as a weird victory cry.
So, what’s the takeway from this very “cool story, bro”-ish story? Well, the man was certainly right to seek out a perceived authority in the GameStop employee after his personal searching efforts didn’t bear fruit, but this strategy would sadly have failed had a librarian not fortuitously been on the scene. That’s not to say another helpful person with some Google skills couldn’t have accomplished the same thing, but it *is* to say that if you need help tracking down information, coming to the library, where the librarians on staff not only have the know-how, but are also devoted to using it to help you whenever you need it, is always a good option.