International Games Day @ your library is an initiative run by volunteers from around the world and auspiced by the American Library Association to reconnect communities through their libraries around the educational, recreational, and social value of all types of games. It is completely free to participate! You can register here and there is a free press kit with press releases and posters here.
In the 21st century, libraries are about much more than books. On Saturday, November 15, 2014, more than one thousand libraries around the world will showcase gaming programs and services in support of IGD14. This year marks our 7th annual event. Our peak numbers so far were in 2011, when more than 27,700 people played games at more than 1,400 libraries across the U.S. and in other countries; in 2012, many venues were affected by early voting for the US federal elections and the storms on the east coast of the U.S., but we still had nearly 20,000 participants, and reached libraries on every inhabited continent. In 2013, the economic pressures facing US libraries saw a downturn in participation there, but a sharp spike in international participation (see the map) meant we still had around 900 libraries (and an estimated 30,000 participants).
Gaming of all types at the library encourages young patrons to interact with a diverse group of peers, share their expertise with others (including adults), and develop new strategies for gaming and learning. Plus, it's a way for traditionally underserved groups to have fun in the library and interact with other members of the community. Games Day is a great opportunity for families to get out of the house and play together in the one community institution that welcomes everyone.
Each year, ALA coordinates two parallel activities for International Games Day.
The first is a national video game tournament. We'll be using the Ann Arbor District Library's GT software again for this year's tournaments. Participating libraries organize a local tournament during which their players compete against players at other libraries for national bragging rights!
The second is the Global Gossip Game, which takes the familiar game of whispering secrets from one player to another and laughing at how the phrase changes, and has it travelling from library to library around the world. The first year we started in Melbourne, Australia, traveled through 7 languages on all 6 inhabited continents, and finished in Homer, Alaska 26 hours later, with the phrase changing from "Life must be lived as play" to "He bites snails"! In 2013, thanks to the participation of an Australian Antarctic base, we travelled through all seven continents, and split 5 times, morphing from "Play is training for the unexpected" into "I love the world", "Zombie", "Clouds travel around the world", "Glow, glow, peanut butter jelly", and "Ian needs help"! (Maybe Ian is a snail?) And this year, we're already planning to go even bigger!
In addition, ALA partners with donors to provide free copies of games for libraries across the country. Our sponsors for 2013 are USAopoly, Konami, Heartland Products, and GameTable Online. Past donors have included companies such as AlphaBound, FamilyAndPartyGames.com, Hasbro, North Star Games, Ravensburger, PopCap, and Wizards of the Coast. Please contact us if your company is interested in sponsoring International Games Day or donating games, prizes, or snacks to local libraries.
Libraries that want to participate in this year's event need to register online (when we open registrations - watch this space) in order to participate in the national video game tournaments or Global Gossip Game, receive free donations, and appear on the international map of participating locations.