Gaming Librarian Spotlight: Christina Castle

Interviewed by Julie Hornick

Tell us about yourself. In a nutshell, what is your role at your library?  

Hi!  My name is Christina and I am the Young Adult Librarian at the Thayer Public Library in Braintree MA.  In addition to tween/teen programming, such as You Should Read This, Book in a Bag, and Teen Advisory Group, I am in charge of ordering the teen & adult video games.

What got you into gaming?  What is your favorite game? Why?  

I’ve been playing games with family & friends since I was little.  I grew up in Maine and during the Ice Storm of ‘98 I remember playing board games like Monopoly, Sorry!, & Clue by lamplight for a week.  My earliest console was the NES.  I’m still fond of a game called Battletoads (even though I was terrible at it (even with the Game Genie)).  But the first real “aha!” moment where I considered myself a gamer was when we bought a PlayStation 1 and I started playing games like Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, & MediEvil.  I’d say MediEvil is still my favourite game.  I’ve written multiple college & grad school papers while listening to it’s soundtrack and I still find it funny.  You play a skeleton who died in battle but is accidentally resurrected (without his jaw, which is just hilarious because he is always grunting his disagreements to everyone) and now must fight monsters and an evil warlock to earn his final rest & a seat in the Hall of Heroes.  I was stoked to replay the remake as an adult on the PS4 a few years back.  

What game are you excited by right now? Why?  

Currently, I am playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.  I just finished the Wrath of Druids dlc and have just begun the Freya Mastery Challenges.  I love the Assassin’s Creed series for bringing action to history (or historical fiction).  I am currently into games that I can play while listening to audiobooks, such as Hades and Assassin’s Creed.  There’s just this productive feeling about going around the AC world maps and finding all the collectibles while getting in a few chapters.  If there’s any story content that I feel I need to tune into, I can just pause the audiobook and continue after.  In 2022, I am looking forward to more hands-on games (games I know I can’t listen to an audiobook while playing) like Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, God of War Ragnarock, and Hellblade 2.  

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

I wish people knew that I sometimes connect readers to books from video games!  When someone comes into the Teen Room asking for a book recommendation and doesn’t have a loved book series to start from, my next question is always “What movies/games have you watched/played recently?”  That almost always gets a smile and a response!  Video games offer many of the same hooks that books do- escapism, worldbuilding, character development, story discovery, sharability (the ability to share & discuss the story with others). 

How would you define a gamer?  What value do games or gaming bring to you personally?  

I think anyone can define themselves as a gamer the way that anyone can define themselves as a reader.  To me, a gamer is a pretty broad term that includes folks who play video games, RPG games, board games, dice games, and more.  And you can mix and match too!  I play Dungeons & Dragons every week, as well as video games and the occasional card game.  Games can provide a sense of connection the same way that books can and I think that all types of gamers enjoy praising a good game the way a reader enjoys finding someone who has read and loved their best reads.  Games and books provide anchor points where you can relate to others, connect, or form communities no matter the age.  In my years as a librarian, I have found teens bond just as much over John Green’s Looking for Alaska or Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper as they have Minecraft or Super Smash Bros. or Apex Legends or Hades.  I have found that when my teens know I like the games (or books) they like, they love to talk about them with me.  And if you don’t know the games/books they like, do what I do- muster up your enthusiasm and ask them to tell you about it!  Everyone loves talking about their favourite thing!  And who knows, having those conversations could give you knowledge into what games your library is missing or what programs to try next! 

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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