International Games Day @ your library Game on November 15, 2014!

Book folks on games: Hail to the Chiefs! It’s the ALA and ALIA Presidents!

Posted on October 30, 2014

After finishing the "Game folks on libraries" series with the extraordinary Brenda Romero, I didn't want to drop the bar - so we're winding up this year's "Book folks on games" with a bang too! It's a double-header with the Presidents of both the American Library Association (ALA) and its new partner in IGD this year, the Australian Library & Information Association (ALIA). We're very honoured (and also honored) to have them both contributing their thoughts!

Courtney Young (ALA)

Normally I let people's bios provide most of the introductions, but in this case I feel it's a little understated. As the website she set up for her election campaign makes clear, Courtney is a woman of many accomplishments - indeed, it's remarkable to scroll down her list of "Selected Professional Activities" and realise that all this has been compressed into a mere decade-and-a-bit. (At the risk of making her blush - though there's no reason she should - the Endorsements page also makes for some impressive reading.)

Courtney L. Young is the 2014-2015 American Library Association (ALA) President. She is currently the Head Librarian and Professor of Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State Greater Allegheny, and previously held positions at Penn State Beaver and Penn State University Park, Ohio State University, and Michigan State University. Within ALA, she has served on the Executive Board and the Council, and as President of the New Members Round Table. In 2011, Courtney was named a Library Journal "Mover & Shaker". Courtney graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio with a B.A. in English and minors in Black Studies and Women's Studies. She received her M.S. in Library Science from Simmons College. Courtney frequently presents and publishes on issues related to academic librarianship, diversity, virtual reference, leadership, and professional development.

Courtney, welcome and thank you! We know you're busy, so we are both honoured and appreciative. Let's kick off with our first question: what is your past experience of play and games?

I have an extensive history with games and play. My older brothers played all types of electronic games, including handheld sports games and early console games.

We also play board games in my house. For example, I loved playing Monopoly... but the rest of the family was not as much of a fan because the game play took so long. Card games featured too. I used to watch my mother play solitaire, and Go Fish was one of my early favorites.

I also had a love for tabletop electronic games. One year for Christmas I received a Pac-Man system (see I spent a lot of time working on my high score and getting an extra life!

My first foray into computer gaming was Math Blaster!, designed to help me improve my math skills. My first gaming at the public library was as a pre-teen where I played Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? When my older brother went to graduate school he gave me his Nintendo. I owned some games, but would rent others from video stores as this was before libraries started lending games. I've owned a variety of gaming consoles (Sega Genesis, SNES, PS1, PS2, PS3, Game Boy, Nintendo GameCube, Wii). I still do a lot of gaming.

Thank you for sharing that! What do you see as the current state of games in libraries?

Games are being recognized more widely as important in our society. As a reference librarian I've noticed over the past ten years an increased interdisciplinary interest in game theory and gaming for course-related assignments. It is common on campus to see students gaming together between campuses, be it X-Box or Magic: the Gathering. Libraries hosting open houses increasingly include a gaming component for attendees. My public library colleagues host Wii for Seniors events. More academic libraries are developing game collections. As a natural gathering place in the community, the library is a great place for legal gaming to take place, such as chess tournaments.

And of course, the 2014 ALA Annual Conference's Opening General Session featured Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. She designs alternative reality games "that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems."

I still wish I could have been there... where do you see this going, and where could it go?

I believe gaming will continue to be important and a part of everyday life. We know it can play an important role in learning - from my early experience with math skills software, to flight simulators for pilots. Games allow us to be creative and learn new things. They are also fun!

Gaming is a great way to come together as a family, friends, or a community. Libraries of all types play an integral role in fostering opportunities to come together, so through gaming programming (tournaments or even festivals) and collections that is possible. Games have the potential to bridge generations, cultures, and make the world a better place.


Damian Lodge (ALIA)

ALIA’s President, Damian Lodge, is similarly a man of many talents – including, I’ve just discovered, being both a rock musician and a guitar-maker! I had the pleasure of meeting Damian at the recent ALIA National Conference and discovered that on top of that and the professional achievements below, he is also a very affable chap.

Damian Lodge, is a Lecturer in Information Studies teaching in the areas of technology and management at the Wagga Campus of Charles Sturt University, an Australian university with a strong focus on rural and regional Australia with campuses around the country and over 2000 students studying Library and Information Management courses via distance education. Damian has been teaching in the School of Information Studies since 2003 and came to teaching from working in University Libraries for ten years and public libraries before that. He has a Masters in Library and Info Management and a Masters in Business Administration. He has served on the ALIA Board for a two year period (2006-2008) and is currently the President of ALIA. Damian's research interests are in library management and technology and he co-ordinates the Leadership specialisation in the School. He has written articles on staff development, organisational culture, teamwork and technology in libraries.

Thanks for your time Damian! We know it’s scarce, and we’re privileged to have you joining us too. So: what is your past experience of play and games?

I remember growing up as a kid and loading games onto my family’s Commodore 64 with the tape drive. The tape drive was a little faulty, and would chew up the tapes so the games wouldn’t play properly; even when they did work, the graphics were square blocks and the music that played was monophonic… but it was an experience! I was a fan of Space Invaders at the local sports club but I was a very ordinary gamer. Most of my friends in high school played computer games and played Dungeons & Dragons, a game my school tried to ban in the early days (which I think only made it more appealing). I didn’t play computer games in high school but did play with a few music software packages to write music, which in retrospect was still a form of electronic play. My family played board games regularly with Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit the favourites. My parents banned me from playing Monopoly against my sister due to my 'buy everything I land on and become the evil landlord' policy. My sister still won’t play Monopoly with me.

I have spent the last 25 years working in universities and the student spaces have always been full of games, with my favourite being Daytona USA. Why this game I have never understood, as I own two pushbikes and do not own a car – but the game just appealed to me! These days it’s apps, so Words with Friends is very popular and I did get caught up in Flappy Birds.

What do you see as the current state of games in libraries?

Gaming in libraries started slowly, but has really come in to its own with some great new purpose-built spaces in libraries for gaming and play. A brand new library in Melbourne – The Library at the Dock – has some brilliant spaces designed for gaming and play. It has a makerspace, gameplay zone, recording studio and a host of other spaces that really show what you can do with play and gaming in a library environment. As a musician and a guitar builder these spaces in libraries are just fantastic as I can go into the library and lay down some tracks in the recording studio using quality microphones and the latest music creation software then head to the next space and print off some guitar parts with the 3D printer. I may have to try and get a job at this library…

I also recently visited the chess collection and play space at the State Library of Victoria. Every table was in use with a great mix of people playing against each other.

Where do you see this going, and where could it go?

Gaming and play brings people together. My teenage children play games with people halfway across the world. We are all connected and gaming and play allows us to become increasingly connected with people we know – and interestingly, people we don’t. I get Candy Crush invites on a weekly basis and my family can easily spend hours in the evening together playing games on the 4 laptops, 2 iPads, 3 iPhones and an android device which are all loaded to the hilt with games.

In the future we are going to see further development of these devices that enhance the user experience, with far better graphics and sound and an amazing level of interaction and immersion. I am fascinated with smart glasses and how this and other wearable technology will be developed over the coming years. Libraries and the spaces we build are adapting well and are really quite innovative. Librarians understand change and the management of change well, as this is part of our everyday work life due to the nature of our business! We are building great spaces and partnerships, and utilising new technologies to provide services that are bring new people into our libraries every day.


Thanks again to both Courtney and Damian for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions!

Updates: Minecraft Hunger Games and Global Gossip Game

Posted on October 28, 2014

Hi everyone! Here's the latest on the two international inter-library games.

Minecraft Hunger Games

Registrations are open until the end of this week, and AADL will be sending an email out to everyone who has registered when they close. So if you've been waiting to hear more, not long now!

Meanwhile, make sure you add to your list of safe sender domains (gtsystem is the specific username if you have to add whole email addresses), so they don't get caught in the spam filter - and make sure to check your filter if you don't get anything by early next week!

Global Gossip Game

Registrations for this year's GGG are closed.

This year, because of the huge growth in interest (612 libraries indicated interest in playing when they registered for IGD!) and the lack of comparable growth in the volunteer pool (in fact I have been shrinking slightly) I decided to try a more automated approach.

Everybody who indicated an interest in participating during IGD registration was sent an email early last week with a link to a Google Form for their timezone, asking for the information I need to run the game.

Unfortunately, it seems as though a LOT of libraries had this email get caught in their spam filter - although more than enough still replied that I didn't notice until too late. If you indicated a desire to play and never received either email, please do check your spam filter for the 19th, 20th and 21st of October - it's too late to add you at this point, but at least we'll know what happened.

The list of participating libraries is below. Most have given me all the contact details I need - there are a couple with bits and pieces outstanding. Once I have those details, I'll start generating the combined instructions and contact information that each library has customised to them. I'm hoping for the end of this week, but I have a lot on (PAX Australia is in town this weekend, and I'm presenting a panel), so it may be next week. If you want to see the basic instructions for the day before then (i.e. without your specific contact details), you can visit for the basics - there may be some minor tweaks, but in general this will be the deal.

Unfortunately, this year we had fewer African libraries participating, and none that could join us on the day. We also didn't make it to Antarctica - they are happy for us to try again next year, but this year none of the bases could make it work. And while we came oh-so-close to a particularly interesting travelling library, that too has ended up being a "maybe in 2015". So the upshot is that, even though this is the largest GGG ever, with 77 libraries participating, we only ("only") make it to 5 continents this year. I'm still confident it will be an interesting and enjoyable exercise - I just don't want you telling people the wrong thing on the day :)

Thanks again to everyone who expressed interest in participating - and whether or not we got you in for this year, have a fun IGD14!

GGG participating libraries

  • Albion District Library
  • American Corner Pristina - National Library of Kosovo
  • American Library, American Center, New Delhi 110001, India
  • Anoka County Library - Rum River
  • Biblioteca Pública, municipal y Popular "General José de San Martín", Miramar (Bs. As.) Argentina
  • Biblioteket i Ekerö centrum
  • BLIK Gribskov Library
  • Bournemouth Library
  • Boylston Public Library
  • Bridgeport Public Library - Newfield Branch
  • Campaspe Regional Library
  • Campbelltown Public Library
  • Career and Technical Education Center
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library- ImaginOn
  • City of Darwin Libraries - Karama Library
  • City of Melville Libraries
  • Clearwater Public Library
  • Clinton Public Library
  • Corona Public Library
  • Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center, Cliffdale Regional Branch
  • Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center, North Regional Branch
  • Dayton Metro Library: West Carrollton Branch
  • Eastern Regional Libraries
  • Fitchburg Public Library
  • Flower Mound Public Library
  • Grafton Library
  • Hairston Crossing Library
  • Henderson County Public Library
  • Incline Village Library
  • John Muir Branch, Los Angeles Public Library
  • Johnson County Public Library - Franklin Branch
  • Knjižnica Jelkovec, The Zagreb City Libraries
  • Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library
  • Landa Branch Library
  • Lawrence Public Library
  • Logan Libraries, Logan Central
  • Lois Edwards Memorial Library
  • Longview Public Library
  • Mandurah Library
  • Mark Twain Neighborhood Library
  • Marsden Library
  • Marshall-Lyon County
  • Melbourne Library Service
  • Moscow American Center
  • Nancy Carson Library
  • Northeast Branch, The Seattle Public Library
  • Nottingham City Libraries: Central Library
  • Nunatta Atuagaateqarfia
  • Olds Municipal Library
  • Onondaga County Public Library_Mundy Branch
  • Orange County Public Library
  • Park Forest Branch of the Dallas Public Library
  • Peter G. Holt Memorial Library
  • Placer County Library, Auburn
  • RAF Croughton Base Library
  • Rantou Public Library
  • Sacramento Public Library Valley Hi North Laguna Branch
  • Salisbury Library Service
  • Scenic Regional Library – Union
  • Scenic Regional Library – Owensville Branch
  • South Butler Community Library
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Albert Public Library
  • Stair Public Library
  • Staunton Public Library
  • Tavlay Library
  • The Emmet O'Neal Library
  • The University Library “Svetozar Markovic”
  • University of Delaware Library
  • University of San Jose – Recoletos Main Library
  • Veedersburg Public Library
  • Verdal bibliotek
  • Winlock Timberland Library
  • Woodburn Public Library
  • Yarra Plenty Regional Library


Game Profile (and update): Global Gossip Game

Posted on October 27, 2014

Hi everyone! I was going to write this as two separate posts - a game profile piece and a GGG update.

But then I thought about it a little more, and it occurred to me that it might actually be worth profiling the GGG itself... partly because a game profile of a game like Gossip seems so counterintuitive. I mean, what's to say? Games don't come much simpler - in fact it's so simple that some particularly doctrinaire folks refuse even to call it a game.[1]

And yet every year dozens of libraries (and a growing number of schools) and hundreds of people seek it out and enjoy it. So clearly something's up. What might that be?

Well, for starters, one of the reasons people refuse to call it a game is actually one of the most interesting things about it: unlike many games, where the pleasure comes from the exercise of skill, the entertainment of a game of Gossip derives entirely from failure. A game where the phrase survived intact from one end of a room to the other would be... well, flabbergasting, actually, and interesting as a curiosity, but also kind of boring in and of itself.

(On the other hand it would be interesting to see what kind of Secret Phrase could maintain that kind of longevity. It's certainly true that some things last better than others - and not solely on grounds of phonetic clarity. But I digress...)

Another (and related) reason that it's interesting is that there's no team and no victory: even traditional co-op games which do away with inter-player competition still set the players up as a team competing against the system of the game itself. Gossip, though, just has players and an outcome.

But I think that the reason it's such a tenacious meme is that it's iconic in the way it lays bare the fallibility of our communication and comprehension. Like a good short poem, it distils some central part of the human experience down to its essential nature - in this case, the way in which, even with the best intentions, we get our facts wrong. And it's inescapable that we are complicit in this - because that's the whole game!

And the fact that not everyone in a game of Gossip necessarily plays with the purest intentions, that some people intentionally change the phrase... well, that's not exactly unlike life either!

And that leads to all sorts of interesting conversations about information and language and culture and technology - about how they connect us, but how they can also misinform us. Several libraries (notably, often those with younger players) have reported that they have capitalised on the game in precisely this way, using the game as a prompt for talking about the important work that libraries do in not only gathering the words of the rest of the world but in curating them. But in an age where people talk with a straight face about libraries being superseded by Google, these are a pair of points that can be fruitfully teased out with old players as well.

Plus, of course, there are the epistemological questions that the game implicitly asks - it's pretty challenging to the notion of "received wisdom" when you look at it!

All this from just one simple game - and I'm only scratching the surface, in the interests of brevity... You can argue that I'm overthinking it, but as with literature, it's all there if you choose to see it - and it raises some very interesting and even profound topics.

Anyway! Time for the

Global Gossip Game Update

In short: I'm working on it. I'm just nailing down the last few timeslots, and then I'm hoping to have the instruction sheets and contact information out to everyone by the end of the week. Be warned, though - I'm presenting a panel at PAX Australia on Friday and then attending the rest of the weekend, so it might be early next week! If you want to see a preview of the rules for the day, you can do so here.

(The timeslots that are left are largely suited to Eastern Europe, Asia, Western Australia, and East Africa, if anyone in those areas missed out. And there's a little room at the end for Alaska/Hawaii etc. Anyone else... sorry! Next year... which looks like being awesome by the way...)

Till next time!

Clarification about OnePlay donation – it’s for a single user

Posted on October 22, 2014

Sorry everyone! Despite both seeking clarification before writing, and vetting the actual text of the last post before it went up, we managed to cross some wires between Europe, North America and Australia. (We all seemed to end up writing to each other between midnight and 6am in our respective local times, so I’m not entirely surprised!)

So, to be absolutely clear: the prize is not a 1-year subscription for the library as an e-lending service – it’s a one-year subscription for one library user of your choice.

This means you can use it as a (pretty awesome) prize, but you can’t actually use it for your own library service. Similarly, the $50 voucher received by the first 100 libraries is for giving to an individual user to spend on OnePlay's store. OnePlay suggest using these donations for winners of any competitions you have locally, but they know that not all events will have a competitive element, so how you allocate them is entirely up to you!

I apologise wholeheartedly for the confusion and for any part I played in creating it. But the donations are still awesome and you should still definitely try and score one :)

Thanks again to OnePlay for these terrific donations!

Surprise worldwide donation: OnePlay videogame e-lending service!

Posted on October 20, 2014

Hi everyone! We have some very exciting news - a new donor for ALL libraries worldwide!

Oneplay logoThe Donor

OnePlay is a company based in Las Vegas and Denmark that offers a digital gaming subscription service, where users instantly can download and play unlimited Android and PC games for a low subscription fee.


The Donation

OnePlay would like to sponsor unlimited donations to IGD participating libraries of a 1-year subscription for the OnePlay VIP gaming service.

This will enable one user of your choice to create an individual account that they can then use for 1 year to download & play 1000+ PC and Android games, with new titles added daily! It's e-lending, but for electronic games, not e-books!

They suggest that you use it as a prize for winners of the day's competitions, but even if you're not running a competitive element to the day, you can still give it away as an amazing door prize (the value of the prize is $83.88!).


BONUS Prize for 100 libraries!

In addition, 100 lucky libraries that claim this donation receive a bonus $50 gift-certificate to buy a game outright from OnePlay's online store!


How it works

See the OnePlay site for details - but basically your borrower gets access to an installer for each game that asks them to re-validate the loan every 30 days. They can install the game up to two times. So they do need to check in with OnePlay when first installing and running the game, and if more than 30 days has lapsed since the last validation of the loan - but otherwise no internet connection is required (unless the game itself needs one, of course)!


Claiming the Donation

To claim the donation and attempt to claim a bonus prize, send an email from your library/work email address to Lasse Jensen at lasse [at] oneplay [dot] com with subject "IGD Sponsorship", giving your library's contact details in the body for verification purposes, and requesting the OnePlay prize.

OnePlay will then send activation code(s) with information about how to redeem ASAP.

There is a limit of 1 prize package per participating library, and the bonus $50 voucher is limited to 100 libraries - either the first 100 that contact them, or if more than 100 libraries contact them within the first 24 hours, 100 of those selected at random (to ensure that no timezone gets an unfair advantage).

And yes - that does mean that any library anywhere in the world is eligible to request this donation from OnePlay!

The window to claim this donation closes at midnight, Friday October 31, PST. And again, every library that claims a donation will receive the subscription! If you're not in the first 100, you only miss out on the gift certificate - the more valuable donation is available right until the end of the month.


Additional information

For more information, read OnePlay's How It Works and FAQ pages, or contact them through their site (which has live support chat).

[DISCLAIMER: As a volunteer-run event, we're not in a position to assess the technical or legal implications of this service for your library - as with any service, you will need to assess that independently and based on your unique circumstances and needs. But hopefully it helps that there will be no cost to access the service for an entire year - a pretty solid evaluation period!]

Our heartfelt thanks to OnePlay for their support of International Games Day and games in libraries generally!