Great Games for Libraries – Five Picks by Thomas Vose

Games & Gaming Round Table has a new group in charge of lists and awards. Our brand new group will be developing lists of library tested and approved games. Check back each month for a new list of games.

Our first list is by our current President, Thomas Vose. Thomas has been director of the Ruth Enlow Library since 2017, and was previously a librarian in California. He received his MLIS from UCLA (2006), as well as an MA in history (2003) from UC Riverside, and was a Eureka! Leadership Institute alumnus (2009). He reads a lot of history and nonfiction generally and likes to learn interesting new things about the world around us. 

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch) – Smash is always a winner for libraries, one that cuts across age groups and is well-suited for tournaments. A celebration of video game history with 89 playable characters spanning a vast swathe of franchises, Smash is an evergreen title, and the newest is the best yet. With short matches, and allowing for up to eight players simultaneously, it is great for keeping a gaming event flowing and ensuring that all present are able to participate. It also includes a built-in tournament mode that does all the heavy lifting on bracketing for you, and allows for a wide range of customization on rules, stages and characters. This should be a go-to for any library gaming event.

Tokaido (Funforge) – Tokaido is a wonderfully relaxing game in which up to five travelers follow the road from Kyoto to Edo, “competing” to see who can have the most relaxing and eventful journey. Players may work to earn money if need be, paint elaborate artworks, hang out with monkeys in hot springs, buy souvenirs, and enjoy meals in the inn at the end of each day. It’s every bit as pleasant as it sounds, and the intrinsically laid-back and collegial nature of what you’re trying to accomplish helps ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time.

Blokus (Mattel) – This is a great strategy game that takes virtually no time to explain to new players and can accommodate four at a time. Players take turns placing tiles, corner to corner, and play continues until nobody else can move, as players will inevitably start crossing over into each other’s territory. This game is hard to beat for simplicity and approachability, and is great to have on hand for any board game program.

Minecraft (PC) – The sheer versatility of Minecraft is its strongest asset, and program participants can be challenged to a wide variety of activities, including “Hunger Games,” collaborative builds, Pictionary, and much more. Its low system requirements make it easy to install on older PCs, and licenses can be bought in bulk from Minecraft EDU (, with activities available through that venue for instructors to build on. Minecraft requires an investment, but is great for STEM-based programming and has a very dedicated and supportive community that is constantly creating new content.

Google Earth VR (PC) – For those libraries fortunate enough to be able to purchase a quality virtual reality (VR) headset (or even more than one), Google Earth’s free VR expansion in itself helps justify the purchase. The ability to zoom through canyons and fly over cities in VR is awe-inspiring, and provides an excellent basis for programming spotlighting countries and their cultures, which regional music and food can only enhance. With travel much more difficult in the age of COVID, such virtual tourism is something that the Library can help provide, fostering at the same time a new appreciation of other cultures. Microsoft Flight Simulator has a VR component as well that deserves a strong mention.

(A few other options if you’d rather)

Stardew Valley Multiplayer  • Fortnite  • Roblox  • Overcooked  • Mario Kart  • Super Mario 3D World  • Imhotep  • Street Fighter  • Boggle  • Chess  • Numenera  • Pokemon

– Happy Gaming!

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