This year's verdict: gaming in libraries remains a powerful service.
Despite lower numbers due to the election (many library meeting rooms were booked for early voting) and a SuperStorm that devastated communities in the northeast, the stories from the libraries that participated illustrate why we do this.
First the numbers:
- 1,281 libraries registered
- 483 libraries filled out the survey afterward
- 17,152 participants played games in libraries worldwide
- 25 libraries participated in the Mario Kart time trial tournament (see the results)
- 24 libraries participated in the Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament (the Ann Arbor (MI) District Library won again)
- 26 libraries on all 6 inhabited continents playing in 7 languages participated in the Global Gossip game (view the map of participating libraries). You can watch the phrase mutate across the globe as libraries posted their entries.Spoiler alert: read no further if you don't want to know the outcome:The phrase started out as "Life must be lived as play" and ended as "He bites snails". Awesome, right? There's definitely a Ph.D thesis in there somewhere.
As in past years, though, it's really the stories that define the day. This year the impact of gaming in libraries was brought home in a particularly strong way by those northeastern libraries that still tried to provide games for their patrons. Five libraries reported what happened at their pared-down IGD12 events. Here are two of them:
- "While many adults shared stories about their hardships following Hurricane Sandy, the children were entertained with three hours of playing time. Families all expressed gratitude for diversion from the tough week and commented how the library always seems to come through for the community! One Mom asked if there were any games that would improve her son's math facts in addition and subtraction. I was able to show here two games at our event that focused on this skill, but I also mentioned that games that use two dice work on this skill constantly since you have to add the two dice together. She was surprised to hear that and was very glad she came to the library to play games with her children." - Pawling Free Library, Pawling, NY
- "Our community was affected by Tropical Storm Sandy. Many were without power all week and the schools were closed all week. I was not sure anyone would come because of the circumstances, but since there was no reason to cancel, I continued on with the event and was happy to see so many people attend. The parents said they were happy to get the kids out of the house and interacting with other kids again." - East Rutherford Memorial Library, East Rutherford, NJ
So many of the libraries reported these types of stories of positive interactions between kids who previously didn't know each other, families playing together, games solidifying relationships between staff and patrons, and more. A small sample of this year's comments:
- "An elderly man in a wheelchair volunteered and played games with tiny tots and teens all day long. He had a great time and the kids did too." - Highlands Ranch Library, Highlands Ranch, CO
- "Our Youth Services Department had a "Play Your Way Around the World" event that included a storyteller kicking things off with tales from around the world. The children then each received a world map and proceeded to ten different stations, each of which had a game from a different country to play. Games included Afghanistan kite making, Mayan ancient basket ball, Japanese card match game, etc. The children had such fun--there was much laughter in our Youth Department!" - Patrick Heath Public Library, Boerne, TX
- "A couple of the tweens sat down with some kids who showed interest in the Monopoly Junior game, but had no idea how to get started. One couldn't even role dice before--they played for a solid hour before it was off to something else. Another group who normally wouldn't be all together on the Wii shared a game, and still another got all geeked about and taught the Labyrinth game to a much younger kid and the family. The library had also recently installed games on some iPads that were received with a grant and this was a great way to premiere them!" - Chippewa Falls PL, Chippewa Falls, WI
- "The children that attended were constantly moving from one competitive game to another. One teen said, 'Thank you for doing this for us, if you didn't have this program I wouldn't have anything to do today but sit and watch tv.'" - Allen Parish Libraries, Oberlin, LA
- "One amazing guy who seemed very shy and withdrawn all day picked up the mic for Rock Band and became this explosion of vocal energy. Everyone was floored by the transformation." - Bellevue Public Library, Bellevue, NE
- "Two of my favorite anecdotes on international games day was watching younger teens get to know older teens while they were playing Yu-gi-oh! and seeing them help each other learn and understand the game rules. And watching older teens share the Wii game controls with younger elementary school players who then began to beat them at their own game." - Woodburn Public Library, Woodburn, OR
- "The teens enjoyed playing the donated Bookworm games from PopCap and one even said, "By playing the Bookworm game, it increased my skills of building words and made me use my brain instead of just using the computer to play shooting or racing games which don't require too much brain knowledge." - Plainview Carnegie Library, Plainview, NE
- "Our digital arts and gaming club has planned this event for the last four years. We increase numbers each year by 20-30 guests. The students do all the planning and implementation and they look forward to this event each year. Many of our students have improved social connections that they would not otherwise have at school. The relationship building and development of leadership and planning and organizational skills are the most important reasons why we continue to hold this event each year at our high school. The students enjoy this niche of friends and skill development through this school program and it definitely improves their overall success at FCHS. " - Franklin Community High School
- "I had several new teens attend the program and many of them did not know anyone else [there], but by the end of 4 loud and hilarious rounds of Apples to Apples, I had gained a new member of our Teen Advisory Board and a couple new additions to our book club. This is definitely an event I will be doing again and since I got my first year underway with no hassle or problems, I hope to expand next year's IGD." - Briggs Lawrence County Public Library, Grand Prairie, TX
- "One three-year-old girl played Wii bowling and Twister for the first time, and some of our regular drop-in kids who frequent the library found some new value in the IGD offerings when they happened in (they wanted to know if we could do the games every Saturday, in fact!). One of the best results of the program was that we had a lot of community and relationship building happen both because staff got to spend one-on-one time with families and because children who previously didn't know each other got to interact together to play new games." - Crooked Lake Branch Library, Coon Rapids, MN
- "One of the teens with whom I had not interacted before gave me a hug of excitement when I set up the Xbox Rock band equipment. I am always surprised at how nicely the teens interact during gaming days. They help us set up the equipment, teach each other how to play, and police themselves so that everyone gets a turn. There is never fighting or hogging of the game consoles. It is a positive experience for everyone." - New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans, LA
- "The teens look forward to International Gaming Day every year. It tends to be one of our most popular programs." - The Emmett O'Neal Library, Mountain Brook, AL
Many libraries again reported that they couldn't have offered Games Day activities without the generous donations from this year's sponsors, Ravensburger (Labyrinth), PopCap (Bookworm), and GameTable Online. We thank all of our sponsors, and we know libraries will use the donations for many years to come to provide fun and learning for their patrons.
Put Saturday, November 2 16, 2013, on your calendar now for IGD13. We'll be starting work on next year's event soon, so watch here for updates.