Librarians report: Libraries are for Gamers (and Everyone Else)

For libraries, International Games Day is the perfect time to reel in gamers of all ages and highlight our resources for these underserved patrons. Whether it is board, card, or video gaming, there is often something for everyone to enjoy. In November 2014, I was able to participate in my first ever International Games Day event. As a lover of all things gaming, I was thrilled to share my passion with the community.

Licking County Library offers a variety of unique resources to lend to the community, two of which are board games and video games. We have a wide collection of video games for modern consoles, and we have twenty different board and card games available for all ages.

Our Event Goals:

  1. Highlight our gaming collections
  2. Collaborate with businesses in the community
  3. Invite patrons who may not utilize our services regularly.

Overall, the program was a success. Comic Shop Plus, a small local comic and board game store that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, joined us for the event, and they played some of the board games with attendees. We have grown a strong relationship with the owners and continue to plan future events, including a Board Game Night and RPG Meet-up. 1UP, a more recently erected video game store, lent us retro game systems and games for our retro game tournament and supplied us with the grand prizes of gift cards. Finally, we had 38 people attend the program who represented all age groups.

Star of the Show: Retro Game Tournament

One of the most rewarding and unique aspects of International Games Day was our “Retro Game Tournament.”

We had two tournaments: Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros. To my surprise, the tournament slots filled up quickly, and people loved playing the games. One of the most interesting takeaways from families was that parents were excited to see their children play with the consoles they themselves used to love. The younger kids had a blast with the weird N64 controllers, and they enjoyed playing the older games. Since the tournaments lasted for so long (three hours!), we hosted the games simultaneously. We also put board games on tables around the event room and set out another television loaded with games to play while people waited for their turn.


Technical Fail

Of course, you can’t have an event without some technical failures. And with retro games, it is bound to happen. Our original plan was to have two televisions for the tournament and one for recreational use. The Atari coaxial cord was on the fritz, so we couldn’t play games on that. Instead, we had an extra Nintendo; people took turns playing various games all afternoon. It was unfortunate, because the Atari has such a good reputation as one of the original game systems for mass play. But, there was still plenty to do for everyone.

Gaming is For Everyone

While the Retro Game Tournament was the central event of the day, attendees were able to battle out on some of our board games. We played Carcassonne, Munchkin, Enchanted Forest, and Bugs in the Kitchen, among others that I’m sure I missed. The board games were less about battling, though, and more about cooperation and meeting people. Quite a few games were played by many generations and by people who had never met!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, our version of International Games Day was a success, and with hope, the start of an annual tradition in the library. Even months later, we still have people asking when our next retro game event will be, and we have garnered more interest in our collections. And, people shared their ideas for what they want to see at the library: Call of Duty tournaments, more retro gaming, RPG opportunities, board game nights, and more. I am excited at the prospect of hosting another event and look forward to working more with the gaming community in our county. Who knows what we’ll see at the November 21st event in Licking County this year!

Stephanie Freas is an Adult Services Assistant at Licking County Library and focuses her work on programming for adults in their 20’s to 30’s and helping people find their next favorite read. When she isn’t at the Information Desk, she is hiking in central Ohio or starting a new book. Her favorite video game is Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and she enjoys playing 7 Wonders with her friends and family.

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