Hey everyone! We have approximately 25 hours till the first International Games Day activities kick off here in my hometown of Geelong, Australia, and I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on what will happen over the following 27 hours or so.
It's not often that hundreds of local and academic institutions get together and decide to create a worldwide community like the one we're creating on November 16. Still less commonly does such an event become an annual celebration, and almost never is such an event run almost entirely by volunteers.
I have previous experience with worldwide volunteer movements - I spent a decade volunteering in various capacities for the Australian Section of Amnesty International (an experience that was highly educational as well as inspirational*). But given the obvious value of defending universal human rights, it's not surprising that AI can motivate thousands of people to collaborate across gaps of distance, language, and culture.
It says something important about both games and libraries that an event like ours can achieve something similar (even if less co-ordinated and more local in focus).
To me, it says that there is a reason people love both games and libraries so much: they are good for us. They help us build community, and exercise our minds in each other's company. We love games because they are fun - but "fun" is the signal that we're doing something good for us, the way kids naturally love to exercise both body and mind, singing and running and dancing and imagining and creating and puzzling the world out like the unstoppable forces of learning they have to be if they are going to work out how to inhabit this world and their culture and themselves.
It may be that, just as we have developed foods that exploit our body's natural response to sugars by over-concentrating them, there are forms of fun which are unhealthy - in fact, I would argue that many parts of the gambling industry, and some online gaming companies, which specifically hire psychologists to work out how best to hook people and manipulate them into keeping spending, are exactly that. And yes, even healthy fun can potentially distract us from more important things. But those facts don't invalidate the fact that we are drawn to fun for a reason. They just mean there is even more need for intelligent, active, critical engagement with games and play.
Similarly, we love libraries because we instinctively know that sharing culture is what makes it culture, and sharing wisdom is what makes a community a civilization. The internet is wonderful and amazing - witness how we're communicating, intercontinentally, right now! - and frees us from the tyranny of distance and other constraints of our limited physical forms. But not everything about being embodied is bad, and we learn and interact differently in person than we do online. We love libraries because they are spaces where we can be present with all of ourselves: physical, playful, social, cultural, intellectual, philosophical, and even spiritual if we are so inclined. Which is to say that, like games, we love libraries because they are good for us, as individual people and as communities.
And that is why I (and, though please note that I'm putting words in their mouths without consulting them, my volunteer colleagues) have thrown so much work into International Games Day @ your library this year. We want to celebrate games - and we also want to leverage that joint celebration of games to celebrate libraries.
So as my final blog post for this year's IGD, barring a few admin-y follow-up bits and pieces, I'd like to say some personal thank yous.
Thank you to all of you for being part of the IGD community, and joining us for this remarkable (in its own humble way) event.
Thank you to those same volunteer colleagues on the IGD Committee of the ALA's Games and Gaming Round Table: Diane Robson, Kristin Boyett, Michelle Chrzanowski, Amanda Foulk, Darla Gutierrez, Brian Mayer, and Teresa Slobuski - and I include in their number Jenny Levine at the ALA; though nominally participating as a staff member, she has (as every year) worked well above and beyond.
And, as always, thank you to the patrons for whom we do all this, who will, as always, be an integral part of transmuting the opportunities we offer into benefits for themselves and each other.
All best wishes for a fun and happy International Games Day @ your library! And don't forget, we want to hear all about it - make the time to send us your feedback and numbers and stories via the post-IGD survey, which we'll send you an email about early next week.
Happy IGD everyone!
Hey everyone! Ten sleeps (or eleven depending where you are) until International Games Day @ your library. I can't wait! Check out how many people will be playing with us this year!
[Why have some dots turned green? It's a Secret.]
Even with something like 60 new libraries since last week, our total is still a bit down on last year - not surprising given all the shenanigans affecting libraries in the USA, which as IGD's birthplace is still where it's best-known. (If you're joining us on the day but aren't yet on the map, it's still not too late to register, by the way. You can register right up to the day itself - we'll try and do a final update just before IGD.)
But on the brighter side, we still have the better part of a thousand libraries joining us - and check out how many libraries we'll be playing with internationally! I make it 73 libraries outside the USA, in 27 different countries.  Welcome to all our new friends from around the world - and welcome back to all our friends from previous years, too!
I hope you're all ready to play. As far as we're aware, everything has been done at our end, and all should be good to go.
Libraries in the USA should by now have received the sponsored games they requested. Thanks again to all our sponsors for their generosity - we appreciate it, and so will the library patrons who get to play your games on the 16th!
Similarly, wherever you are in the world, if you said "Yes" to playing Global Gossip this year, you should also know whether or not you're participating; and if you are, you should have all the information you need to run the game. If you registered your interest but didn't get a slot this year - sorry! We just couldn't get everyone in this time, despite more than doubling the number of participating libraries. You should have had an email either way - if you haven't heard anything at all, please let us know.
I'll post again one more time before the big day, but mostly it's just waiting for the countdown now. I look forward to playing with you all - and with the thousands of people across the world whom we'll be connecting with this event - on the 16th!
 As a proud Aussie I am not above pointing out that Australia, with 24 libraries participating, is coming in second for number of registrations.
(And that's not including Antarctica, which also joins the day courtesy of us Aussies. Just sayin'.)
(In the interests of fairness, I should point out that if all of our Scandinavian friends from Nordic Game Day had also registered with IGD they would probably have beat Australia.)
(But they didn't )
However, I am not just a proud Australian, I am also a proud library-lover and gamer. And as such I hope you will all take this footnote as an invitation to try and beat us next year. If you think you can...[Back]
It's a good day for IGD donations! Thanks to the generosity of another sponsor, IGD libraries in the USA will be getting more games than we initially expected!
USAopoly has just informed us that they will be shipping US libraries a whole extra game! In addition to the promised copies of the fast-paced vocabulary game Tapple, each recipient will receive a copy of their spatial strategy game Crossways.
(Sorry for the spoilers! But we figured you'd rather have extra time to plan than the nice surprise when you open the box.)
Thanks USAopoly! Here's a little info around the two games to whet your appetite:
Each round in Tapple, one player draws a topic card, then starts the timer. In the next ten seconds, that player must give a single word answer that fits within the topic, press down the letter key in a special electronic device that corresponds to the first letter of that word, and restart the timer. The next player must then think of a word for the topic that starts with a different letter, press down that starting letter, and restart the timer. If a player runs out of time, she's out for the round. If only one player remains in a round, she collects the topic card. If players manage to press down all of the letters before knocking all but one player out of a round, the players reset the device, draw a new topic card, then start the timer again, this time having to give two answers for the topic – each starting with a different letter – within the allotted time. Whoever collects the most topic cards wins! If you want to learn more, there's a quick how-to-play video on their site.
In CrossWays players want to be the first to build a path of their pieces from one side of the game board to the opposite side, but to build they need to use the cards they draw and have in hand.
On a turn, a player can lay down a single card (e.g., a red 9) and place one of their pieces on this space on the game board; she can also lay down a pair of cards with the same value and place two of her pieces in a stack on any space, including the white ones that are otherwise off-limits. If a player has two pieces in a row on a stack, no one else can play on top of that stack – but by playing a suited run of cards, a player can remove pieces already on the board, putting those spaces into play once again. The CrossWays site has more information if you want to learn more.
Hi everyone! Great news - Konami (makers of collectible card game Yu-Gi-Oh! - see our guest post about it here) have just told us they'll ship their sponsorship packs to Canadian libraries too! Thanks Konami!
You may know that in Northern Europe games are massively popular - despite the abundance of huge games conventions in the States (who me, jealous?), the world's single largest annual games convention is actually Spiel, in Essen, Germany. The existence of a regional Nordic Game Day is just further proof that games are going strong over there. To tell us more, here's the organiser of Nordic Game Day, Thomas Vigild! Thanks Thomas!
Aarhus Library in Denmark
Huge high fives from the Nordics, where the preparations for Nordic Game Day 2013 are going really well. Right now over 60 libraries all over the region have enlisted their official support for Nordic Game Day - and Norway is leading the charge - but many more will follow, as we gear up with more events, talks, competitions and tournaments on November 16th.
Games have become a natural and essential part of the Nordic libraries, and especially in Denmark this has been the case for many years. Many libraries in Denmark have dedicated game-librarians, who are skilled in how to communicate about games and cook up events for the patrons.
But libraries in Norway and Sweden are really quickly catching up these years, because many librarians have discovered the social power of games - both physical board games and digital games on both consoles, browsers and tablets.
One example is Drammen library in Norway, where they are hosting an annual “Spilnatt” (“Games Night”), which have hundred of kids standing in line to get into the library. During the night the library hosts all sorts of competitions, showcases of new both international and Nordic games and sometimes also board games, card games like Magic or roleplaying games.
At Nordic Game Day 2013 the big Nordic competition will go down in the beautiful and wonderful crazy mini-golf game ‘Wonderputt’ made for browsers. We wanted to find a non-violent game with awesome graphics and strong gameplay which was easy to get into, so here ‘Wonderputt’ seemed like a good match. The main prize is the new upcoming Sony PlayStation 4, so we´re expecting heavy resistance on the virtual golf-courses all across the region
Furthermore the Nordic libraries hosts a lot of regional tournaments in games like FIFA, Mario Kart, Magic: the Gathering, Singstar, Trackmania, Kinect games and also the physical quiz-board game Bezzerwizzer - and yes: quizzing is really big in the Nordics. The main library in Malmø (Sweden) will also feature an exhibition of old classic board games from the 70s, so there will be something for everybody during this Nordic Game Day.
We hope IGD is also doing well, and see ya later
- Thomas Vigild, coordinator for Nordic Game Day (supported by Nordic Game Institute)
More pictures from Nordic Game Day 2012 here!