Gaming Librarian Spotlight: Chance Joyner

Interviewed by Julie Hornick

Tell us about yourself. 

My name is Chance Lee Joyner, aka Mr. Chance. I am currently the head of youth services at the Tyngsborough Public Library in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. I have been working in libraries for about six years. I also teach writing and other English classes at a local community college. My favorite Pokemon is Trubbish, the Trash Bag Pokemon. Trubbish is native to the Unova region, which is the first Pokemon game loosely based on the United States. To fit this environment, they created over a hundred new Pokemon, including those inspired by buffalo, eagles, pigeons, and literal bags of garbage. Therefore, Trubbish is the quintessential American Pokemon. 

What got you into gaming? 

The Nintendo Entertainment System. Also, the Nintendo Adventure Book series, my go-to choice in Scholastic Book Fairs as a kid, were twelve Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style books featuring Mario and The Legend of Zelda. They synthesized gaming and reading.  

What is your favorite game? Why? 

My favorite game of the last twenty years is Final Fantasy VII Remake. I had long ago fallen out of touch with Final Fantasy. Even when I was into it hardcore, I did not count FFVII among my favorites, so this one took me by surprise. It is fun to play, the story is wild and melodramatic in all the right ways, and the characters are a blast. I really appreciated the friendship that develops between Tifa and Aerith. My memory of the original is that they existed to be love objects for Cloud, the lead character. The remake lets us see them forge a friendship with one another, and I especially enjoy it when they make fun of Cloud.

What game are you excited by right now? Why? 

Pokemon Legends: Arceus has held my attention more than any other Pokemon game since Ruby/Sapphire. It respects the player’s time in ways that the series often has not. It allows you to progress through the game in ways that do not exclusively involve battling, although that is a large part of it. The sense of scale is impressive. Each Pokemon has unique animations and personalities. Unfortunately, Trubbish was not included in this installment.

Share a program that you have developed or participated in that you were really proud of or excited by. 

I have run Mario Kart and Smash Bros. tournaments on Nintendo Switch that are a lot of fun. They inspire friendly competition. Tyngsborough is also home to many passionate Pokemon Trading Card Game collectors. They like to battle my Trubbish-themed deck. I am currently running a pop culture March Madness tournament for teens that has a gaming category. Madden and Minecraft were closer than I’d anticipated (Minecraft squeaked out a win). 

Does your library have a gaming collection? If so, tell us a little bit about it. 

We have an extensive video game collection that I cannot take credit for. It is a very well-curated collection of games for modern consoles. The Nintendo Switch is particularly popular with our kids and families, especially titles like Minecraft and Mario games. 

What is one thing about games or what you do with games that people don’t know about, but that you wish they knew? 

Games can be a solo activity or a communal experience, or both. Even single-player games can serve as a gateway into a community. I am not sure if the stereotype still exists that gaming is a violent pastime, but that stereotype is being challenged and broken every day. There are many non-violent games available that are just as engaging, if not more so. One of my favorites in recent memory is Baba is You, a game in which you play around with the meaning of words, language, and existence itself to solve puzzles. 

What would you tell someone who wants to bring game programs or collections to their library? 

Do it! It may seem intimidating to get started, but it’s all about having fun. Ask what your patrons are into and build a collection accordingly. There are games out there for everyone. 

Do you know a librarian or library paraprofessional who likes games and/or runs gaming programs at their library that should be spotlighted? Maybe even yourself? Fill out this form! Nomination is not limited to ALA Game and Gaming Round Table members.

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