International Games Day Anecdotes

Welcome to our very first edition of IGD Anecdotes, where we share the memorable stories, ideas, and experiences of previous library participants!  As you read, consider bringing some of these ideas and experiences to your library so you can share your story with us at the end of the year.  Let’s not forget that International Games Day @ your library is about reconnecting communities around the social, recreational, and educational value of all types of games.  Whether it attracts experienced gamers or curious non-gamers, individuals from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life congregate, forming new experiences and stories to tell.


Stories of Teaching and Learning

Although games are often perceived as trivial play, many of us overlook the significant learning and teaching that takes place.  The assessment survey of IGD 2013 provided stories of how games transformed public, school, and academic libraries into social environments immersed in teaching and learning.  This phenomena is far from pointless.

At UCLA, students are honing their skills to design games for a living.  Students from the Design | Media Arts school presented their tabletop games assigned for their Game Design course at UCLA’s College Library.  They shared the creative process involved in making the game (e.g., handcrafting the pieces, building the story, creating the rules) and provided an interactive teaching and learning experience so that visitors could engage and play. Attendees sat around and learned how to play while listening to the inspirations behind the creator of the game. If you are interested in applying a similar activity in your library, be strategic and contact a target community in the local area that has applied their creative talents to an end product that will enhance the event. For example, in addition to inviting student game designers, the UCLA Library also invited student musicians to perform an hour-long video game music concert at noon.  Performers want an audience, game designers want players, and you want attendees.  The additional effort to coordinate was worthwhile for the UCLA Library, building their local network for years to come.  You can, too!

Many attendees may be learning a new game for the first time.  One high school library anticipated this scenario and organized “Teach me” tables that were moderated by faculty.  In this case, students who did not know how to play a particular game learned how to play games such as Risk, Sheepshead, Settlers of Catan, and Dominican Dominoes.  No matter how simple or advanced a game may be, the faculty themselves must learn or relearn the rules of play in order to properly moderate and teach their students.  If you are interested in implementing a similar idea, set tables to attract attendees who may not be familiar with the new game, and find volunteers with expertise with the games to help moderate the game.  If attendance is low, moderators should play to get the game started.  Reading the rules help, but experiencing through play is one of the best ways to retain and understand the rules.

People enter public libraries from all walks of life.  An elderly gentleman from Ukraine attended a public (urban) library in the U.S..  Though he knew very little English, a young woman helped him with Scrabble at every turn and when the game was over, he was pleased to learn new “American words.”  In addition to increasing one’s vocabulary in a foreign language, the games provided a way for connecting people.  Take a moment to look around the room during your event.  Is anyone sitting alone in front of a tabletop game?  Are they struggling to begin a video game?  Delegate your volunteers to help another and they too will learn something new and even if they are not a moderator, they can add to yet another teaching moment of the day.  We are there to serve as a community hub for lifelong learning in the library.


Meeting and Interacting with New People

International Games Day provides an excellent opportunity for people to develop the social skills critical for effective communication and interaction with other people.  In-person or online, games can make this process much easier.

Certain communities are more diverse than others and the survey revealed that one academic (suburban) library was “really happy to see that a very diverse group of college students attended events at the library for international game day.”  It appeared as though the participants playing the Mario Kart time trials came on their own and challenged people they have never met.  This library was pleased to see that the library could be “a place to meet new people and make friends.”  There is no question IGD pulls together diverse populations to engage in the diversity of games.

The survey also revealed interactions between traditional and home-schooled students at a rural public library.  Organizers were pleased with the social aspect of IGD programming which were particularly effective for “students who have underdeveloped social skills and are less likely to participate actively in [their] programs.”  Games can be inherently social and the choice of game can change the interaction and the dynamics of that interaction.  It is important to consider the type of library one works for and consider the diversity of one’s own community.

An example of an inherently social game that IGD @ your library welcomes all to participate in is the Global Gossip Game.  It is an excellent example of how such a simple, social interaction could bring forth lengthy conversations, laughter, and learning, simultaneously.  One high school suburban library stated that “[t]he students, parents, and teachers absolutely loved playing the GGG.  This aspect, I think even more than the physical games themselves, was a source of incredible excitement.”  Students learn the history of the game, interact directly and indirectly with the understanding that others have participated, and as a result, meet and socialize with other people.


The survey presented many other stories and facts, so stay tuned for the next edition of IGD Anecdotes!  We hope that these stories provide motivation and inspiration.  We are just over five months away from the 7th annual celebration of IGD and if your library seeks to connect with the rest of the world on this memorable day, now is the time to start planning your successful event!

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