International Games Day @ your library Game on November 19, 2016!

Bring Overwatch to your library!

Posted on August 23, 2016

Overwatch is the newest game released by Blizzard Entertainment, developer of World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Hearthstone. Overwatch is a team first-person shooter in which heroes band together to restore peace in the midst of rising conflict in the world.

This overwhelmingly popular game just reached over 15 million players worldwide. Overwatch is available to play on XBOX One, PlayStation 4, and on PC. If your library offers console games, it is simple enough to purchase a copy or two for XBOX One or PlayStation 4, but why not support gaming in your library? Does your library have computers? Do they meet the minimum system requirements to play Overwatch?

Overwatch System Requirements

Users who purchase the digital rights to playing Overwatch can play anywhere they can access the internet on a computer as long as it meets the minimum specification requirements. If your library's computers can run this popular game, Overwatch is a great talking point that will bring people in to play!

Big Program, Small Budget

Posted on August 16, 2016

Dalene Schrier is the Technology Specialist at Bentonville Public Library in Bentonville, Arkansas. She enjoys tabletop gaming and is an all-around geek.

Passion, dedication, and persistence are three characteristics anyone who plans library programming possesses. To produce a program with little to no budget, one needs those qualities and more. In the case of TableToppers, I have passion, dedication, and persistence in spades.

Tabletop game collection at the first TableToppers meeting – September 2014 Photo by Dalene Schrier

Tabletop game collection at the first TableToppers meeting – September 2014
Photo by Dalene Schrier

Spring 2014: Inspired by Wil Wheaton and my love of tabletop gaming, I approached my supervisors at Bentonville Public Library (BPL) about starting a tabletop gaming group. To my surprise, they agreed albeit with a caveat: I had to get everything donated. There was no extra budget for games. Luckily I like a challenge! After thinking about the best way to get games donated, I immediately began researching game publishers. Why not go directly to the source? With the assistance of the library’s wordsmith, we prepared a letter that was sure to get game donations. While some publishers did post their address online, some had online request forms. Using the same text from the letters we had multiple avenues for requesting support.

Local game stores in Northwest Arkansas showed enthusiasm about a library gaming group but were unable to donate materials to the program. Their support came in the form of promotion, which was needed and appreciated.

I began looking for other libraries that had tabletop gaming programs. To my surprise, I didn’t find many.  I spoke with a couple of libraries that had active programs. Compared to those libraries, I was at a disadvantage with no budget. But I wasn’t going to give up.

A couple of weeks after the first round of letters, I received a response, not just from Rio Grande Games, a major game publisher, but the founder of the company! He was going to send me a package of demo games for our collection! I couldn’t believe it! Soon, more boxes arrived with more games. At this point, the only money spent was on paper, envelopes, and postage.

Fast forward to September. The room had been configured for optimal gaming space, the games were available for participants, and I was ready to play games! Of course, I was nervous. Who wouldn’t be? In the end, there was no reason to worry. Eight patrons came to play games! This was a brand new program, featuring unheard of games, targeting adults with a niche hobby, so eight participants was a great start! TableToppers was a program with room to grow. And grow it did!

By the end of December, it was obvious TableToppers was a successful and sustainable program. We had multiple patrons suggest we change from a bi-weekly meeting to weekly as it would be more frequent and offer more opportunities to play games. The patrons spoke and I listened! Starting January 2015, TableToppers began meeting every Monday evening starting at 5 p.m.

International Tabletop Day 2016

International Tabletop Day 2016 Photo by Dalene Schrier

TableToppers was going great! We received more donations of games and our weekly meetings had a steady crowd with an average of six participants. Around March 2015, after several patron suggestions, we decided to add Wednesdays to the schedule. At this point, TableToppers was a self-managing program with limited staff involvement. Still, BPL had not spent any money on TableToppers. 

Around the same time, we decided to add Wednesdays to the schedule, I came across International Tabletop Day presented by Geek & Sundry, a geek collective. Founded in 2012, Tabletop Day is a celebration of all things tabletop gaming. With little time to spare, we planned to stream the event in California, hold open game play, and offer door prizes. Surprisingly, we had 24 total participants! Tabletop Day was a successful event supported entirely by donations, including door prizes. 

With the relative success of Tabletop Day, I searched for other game days and found International Games Day @ your library, an American Library Association initiative that escaped my initial searches. When I saw that there was an event sponsored by ALA just for gaming, I was excited! I immediately started planning my events. Games Day was going to be bigger and better than Tabletop Day. I was on a mission and my goal was clear: bring together the gaming community and the library.

Game It Forward 2016 – Day 1 Photo by KT Photography

Game It Forward 2016 – Day 1
Photo by KT Photography

While planning the Games Day event, I was contacted by the founder of GlitchCon, a local geek and anime convention, about having the Library’s game collection in the game room. This was the perfect opportunity to reach a large group of regular gamers. We took our game collection and used the opportunity to promote our graphic novel collections. We also partnered with a local charity gaming event, Game It Forward Northwest Arkansas, to provide our game library for their inaugural event. Both events created great community connections. 

November arrived too soon. Gear Gaming Store of Fayetteville partnered with us. They sponsored a Smash Up! tournament and donated door prizes and games. Lunch was provided by Marco’s Pizza. We scheduled gaming events and open game play for all ages. Having a designated area for family games was a big hit! With the limited success of International Tabletop Day, an unexpected 150+ participants played games until the very end. International Games Day @ your library was here to stay! All BPL had to purchase were cups and beverages for this event. 

BPL’s Tabletop Game Collection – May 2016

BPL’s Tabletop Game Collection – May 2016 Photo by Dalene Schrier

In two years, BPL has spent less than $100 total on TableToppers. All games in our collection, giveaways, and other related items have been donated to BPL with the exception of playing cards, a pound o’ dice, and bags for game components. Currently, BPL has more than 125 games in its collection and is valued at nearly $4,000.  Bentonville Public Library has received great patron feedback and positive media attention. 

It doesn’t matter if you have an endless budget or just a few dollars. If you are determined to put on a program, you can and will find a way. Chances are there is someone just as passionate as you!  Your patrons will appreciate the effort, and your library will benefit from you thinking outside the box.  

Dalene Schrier, Technology Specialist
Bentonville Public Library – Bentonville, Arkansas

IGD 2016: More DOTs!

Posted on August 11, 2016

There is plenty of room left for your library on the International Games Day 2016 map. Registration will be open until November 18th.

Paizo Donation

Posted on August 4, 2016

We are delighted to welcome back Paizo as a sponsor again this year! They graciously provided several copies of their Pathfinder Beginner Box to early registrants.

Pathfinder is a fantasy roleplaying game (RPG). The full game can be played with 2 to 5 players, and could be adapted for more. One player is the Game Master (GM) who tells the story and plays any monsters or other non-player characters (NPCs). The other players play as various races and classes of adventurers (think Lord of the Rings: human ranger, elven archer, etc). Playing time for a single adventure usually takes a few hours. A campaign may take many hours over multiple meetings.

The Beginner Box is a great way to introduce someone to Pathfinder and roleplaying games in general. The Pathfinder Core Rule Book is 576 pages long, which can be a little intimidating to someone who has never played an RPG before. This Beginner Box has a 64-page guide for the players and a 96-page GM guide which is a lot more manageable for first-time players.

Books included in the box

Books included in the box

The player’s guide takes you through everything you need to know to create your own character and the basics of how to play the game. It is full of helpful diagrams and bold boxes that explain how the mechanics of the game work, without getting bogged down in details.

There are also a number of pre-made characters for included people who want to just jump right into playing without creating their own character. However, one of my personal favorite things about the Beginner Box is the inclusion of the blank character creation sheet. There are a lot of versions of character sheets out there and everyone has their favorite, but for a beginner who has never played an RPG before, the one included in the Beginner Box is incredibly well laid out. The guide walks you step-by-step through creating your character and makes it clear where all the information needs to go on your character sheet by including letters on both the sheet and in the player guide. Players won't get lost filling out the character sheet... they may get lost in their adventure though. That's up to the GM.

The GM guide has a pre-written adventure that takes the GM though all the steps of running an adventure. The adventure has a number of situations and combats that allow the GM to learn how to handle a number of situations. Even if someone has been a player for a while and wants to try their hand at GMing, the GM guide and the pre-written adventure would be a great first place to start. The rest of the guide has a ton of information to help the GM create their own adventures.

This box contains enough content to get players and GMs up and running and playing right away as well as enough resources for them to later upgrade to the full set of rules and scenarios available.

The box also contains a flip-mat which is double-sided. One side depicts a pre-made dungeon map. The other side features a dry erase sheet with a grid of one-inch squares on one side. GMs may use the mat to draw out their own rooms and dungeons.

Both sides of the flip-mat

Both sides of the flip-mat

There is also a large collection of cardboard mini figures which can be used to represent players characters, as well as the creatures and other NPCs with whom they interact.

Character minis not yet punched out of the cardboard

Character minis ready to be punched out of the cardboard

The box also includes a set of 7 polyhedral dice. I would recommend purchasing a few extra sets of dice to add to the box so that players and the GM can each have their own set to roll. Dice are readily available at your local game store, on Paizo’s website or on Amazon.

Paizo

The box is a great single item that patrons can check out or use in the library to get started with RPGs.

Pathfinder Society

For International Games Day a great way to incorporate the box is to have members of the Pathfinder Society come to the library to teach and help run some games.  The Pathfinder Society Organized Play is a worldwide group of players and GMs that play in pre-written adventures with an overarching story line. They have volunteers who help to organize and run games in places like game stores and libraries. You can find your local contact on the Pathfinder Society section of the Paizo website.

Roleplaying games are a great way to get people telling stories and using their imaginations while working together to solve problems such as defeating dragons. The Pathfinder Beginner Box is a great first step towards incorporating RPGs into your library.

Library Pokémon Battle Map

Posted on July 26, 2016

pokemongo
Pokémon Go is a cultural phenomenon. Released early July 2016, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game that has truly augmented the world beyond the scope of a mobile screen.

What is Pokémon Go?

In Pokémon Go, players become Pokémon Trainers who endeavor to catch wild Pokémon that appear in different real-world locations, hatch them from eggs by accumulating distance by walking around, and battle for gym leadership. The mobile application is essentially a Pokémon overlay on a real-world map wherein real locations may be shown as Pokémon Gyms. Pokémon Trainers vie for leadership of gyms by battling their collected Pokémon.

How is Pokémon Go valuable to libraries?

Since its release, Pokémon Go has changed public spaces and fostered a sense of collaboration as people from all walks of life share in and enjoy this transmedia storytelling experience. Players engage at an intersection of both the physical and virtual worlds, a place where librarians can meet them to foster multimodal literacy.

Tell me more about International Games Day's Library Pokémon Battle Map!

When players reach level 5, they are then able to participate in gym battles and select a team. In Pokémon Go, there are three teams: Team Mystic, Team Valor, and Team Instinct.

Gym Leader: Team Mystic Gym Leader: Team Valor Gym Leader: Team Instinct

Teams Mystic, Valor, and Instinct are represented by blue, red, and yellow, respectively.

As part of the fun activities of this year's IGD, we are hosting a Library Pokémon Battle Map which shows team leadership at gyms at libraries all over the world. Librarians can report which Pokémon Team is in control of their library's Pokémon Gym using the Pokémon battle form. Once you have entered your library's information, you will have the option to edit the form to update the information as it changes each day or as often as you would like.

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