International Games Week October 29 – November 4

International Games Week

IGD 2013 final roundup!

Posted on December 8, 2013

Congratulations on another fantastic year!

International Games Day was a great success again for libraries around the world. On Saturday, November 16th, 2013, an estimated 25-30,000 library patrons participated with their local libraries on all seven continents.

  • 863 libraries registered to participate
  • 392 libraries filled out the post-event survey (a 45% response rate!) and confirmed nearly 16,000 participants
  • 19 of these libraries participated in Mario Kart
  • 29 libraries participated in Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament
  • 840 players in 74 libraries participated in the Global Gossip Game

Each year this event demonstrates the value of games and gaming in libraries for all age groups connecting people within and between local communities all over the world. Here are some of the great comments we received about participating libraries' goals:

  • “To bring families together in a fun way. Lives are so hectic now with after school activities, it is nice to offer something fun on a Saturday.”
  • “To introduce ourselves (staff), hopefully we'd seem more approachable, and create connections...”
  • “To give the sense of pride that they were part of an international gaming event in which seven continents were participating and bring them close to communities and people the world over."

Almost every library notices the benefits of this day of gaming for their patrons. Here are some of their anecdotes:

  • “It's always fun to see the parents bringing their children to the IGD program, then watching the children teaching their parents how to play the games!” - Citizen's Library, Washington, PA
  • “Above all, the teen boys that participated were shocked that they were afforded the opportunity to play video games at the library. Their perception of the library is a place where they have to be quiet and read. This program helped break down some of the barriers that prevented them from connecting with staff members. Before they left the program, they came up to talk to me about having a video game program at the library every month. I am excited that they now see the library as a place they can come to with their friends to have fun.” - La Porte County Public Library, La Porte, IN
  • “The library had a great energy about it during our IGD program and it was seen when someone would arrive at the library not coming specifically for the event and they would then ask, 'What's going on? This is so cool that the library is doing this, how do I play?' It was so amazing to see so many people playing together, enthused, excited and having a fantastic time playing new games, old ones in a new way and just some of their favorites; everyone had huge smiles on their faces!” - Veterans Memorial Library, Mt. Pleasant, MI
  • “My favorite part of International Games Day was seeing strangers become friends and families laughing and bonding while playing Monopoly or Twister or a dance game. The awed look on faces as they walked into the party was wonderful. We received many thank yous and there was some begging to have another International Games Day soon!” - Beale Memorial Library, Bakersfield, CA
  • “One of our regular patrons just happened to be browsing back in our reading room, where we were hosting gaming for adults. She wandered over to a table that was playing Pandemic and asked if she could watch. She had a lot of questions and got completely absorbed in the rules and story of the game. When the game was finished, she joined us for a game of Dixit. When she left, she told me that she had been having an awful day and that this event had really lifted her spirits. She said it was just what she needed and wanted to know when our future game events were going to be held.” - West Slope Community Library, Portland, OR
  • “A young woman and elderly gentleman attending invited another man who was just sitting and watching to join them. It turns out this man did not speak any English so they played games that didn’t require vocabulary such as the balancing game Suspend, Jenga, dominos and a jigsaw puzzle. They did try Scrabble but she said she was pretty much helping both of the gentlemen on their turns but that the second man was pleased to learn some new 'American words.' The woman asked him where he was from and he pointed out Ukraine on the globe. All three enjoyed connecting over games and had fun despite the language differences!” - Seattle Public Library South Park Branch, Seattle, WA
  • “One of the families we have not seen at the library in a while attended our event. After pleasant exchanges, I said I was glad they came. The son said, 'I wouldn't miss's my favorite library day!' The mom laughed and said he kept asking when game day was and when she got the reminder email, she knew they had to come.” - Pawling Free Library, Pawling, NY
  • “One little boy who comes to the library regularly didn't know about game day. When he saw all the games he was absolutely wide eyed! He said, 'I can play with any of these?! This is the best day of my life!'”
  • “There were complaints during the semi-finals of the chess tournament that one of the finalists only won because the other finalist was giving her tips - because he would rather play against the little girl than her big brother. Whether that was true or not, she can't have needed the tips overly, since she wound up winning the final round as well...” - Verdal bibliotek, Verdal, Nord-Trøndelag, Norway
  • “We had a grandmother race home and grab her grandchildren once she found out the event was on. Many positive comments and lots of smiling faces. We had an excellent mix of boys and girls playing games, especially Minecraft.” - Victoria Point Library, Victoria Point, Queensland, Australia
  • “One boy was upset that his mom was making him leave and proclaimed, 'BUT MOM THIS ONLY HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR!'” - Richards Free Library, Newport, NH
  • “Several of the adults in attendance had never played Wii games before and it was fun to see them learning to play Wii games from the young adults in attendance. They even attempted to play Dance Dance Revolution.” - Irvin L. Young Memorial Library, Whitewater, WI
  • “The majority of our younger patrons come from homes where Spanish is the first language. We saw many youth communicating between cultures and using Spanish and English to teach each other. Many of the older youth took on the role of mentor at the board game tables, patiently working with the children who were playing a game for the first time. Success!” - Mundy Branch Library, OCPL, Syracuse, NY
  • “Several participants came into the library and said they'd like to participate in the events but aren't 'gamers'. When I asked them if they'd ever played checkers as a child, tag on the playground, or Monopoly with their children they said, 'Well, of course--I love board games!' I then explained that this event was about celebrating the joy and power of GAMES, not just VIDEO games, at which point they became excited to participate.” - Westwood College DuPage, Woodridge, IL
  • “Several patrons who didn't know the event was going on, dropped in and ended up stayed all day. One woman looked at her watch and exclaimed, 'I told my husband I was just going to the Library to pick up a hold, and I've been here for 3 hours!'” - Oldham County Public Library, LaGrange, KY
  • “We had a gaming group from a local university volunteer for the day as their service project. They brought games and spent the event teaching kids and adults how to play new strategy games. It was a great success, and awesome to see people of all ages learning together.”
  • “A very antisocial 15 year old boy who frequents the teen computers but has never participated in a program was persuaded to come to IGD by the lure of free pizza. He ended up being phenomenal at Injustice and won a collectible Injustice figurine in a tournament and then carried it around with him proudly all day. At the end of the event, he asked to help clean up and thanked us profusely. (Also, our library director is an avid video gamer and he was at the event for a couple of hours. Watching him play Injustice with the teens was awesome. Talk about our leadership being accessible!)” - Mesa County Libraries, Grand Junction, CO
  • “We had a few parents who played games with children they brought to the program, but there was one adult who approached alone. She was a regular at the library and asked if adults were welcome to join in the games. We of course invited her to pick a game and join in... she chose Scrabble, but couldn't find a player. I played an open game of Scrabble with her and by the end we had teen spectators. Following Scrabble, she chose Apples to Apples and when she requested other players, two children (ages 6 and 9) joined. Though we had to help a bit with vocabulary, it was a very fun game and both adult and children were laughing out loud during much of the game. Apples to Apples was followed by Chutes and Ladders and a realization by the adult that the 'non-thinking' game was actually a tool for teaching math and sequencing.” - Tenafly Public Library, Tenafly, NJ

Our sponsors were vital to the event with donations from USAopoly, Heartland, Konami, and Game Table Online. Thanks once more to all of them! Not only do these donations offer fun for the day, but they help libraries build their game collections.

  • “The games were a big hit. Some of the younger kids got really creative with the rules of Crossways, it was interesting to watch them create their own version!”
  • “As part of our Game Day, the children not only get to learn how to play these games, but they also get a chance to win a copy. I couldn't help but laugh out loud when, after calling out the number on the winner's ticket for Square Shooters, a loud, excited "Yes!" rose up.”
  • “All of the people who came tried Tapple, and most had fun with it. One mom remarked that it was a good exercise in vocabulary for her son. Two girls learned Crossways from a volunteer, and then kicked him off for the next game so they could play on their own.”
  • “Everyone was excited to try the new games and found them quick to learn and easy to play.”
  • “Families had a lot of fun playing Tapple together. It was a great all-ages game.”
  • “Two adults spent time with a small child explaining how dice are rolled. They later said that they planned on buying Square Shooters because it was fast and fun.”
  • “We really appreciate receiving Square Shooters and Rodeo Rummy. I totally love the concept of putting a deck of cards on dice. Having these games available to our patrons really enhanced our event and gave us something to entice them to come.”
  • “Our families enjoyed both Square Shooters and Rodeo Rummy and it's sure to be in demand at future game days! Small libraries like our have very limited budgets and can't afford the luxury of game purchases, so I especially appreciate receiving your great games!”
  • “We had the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist League thanks to Konami and a big brother told his littler sister 'girls couldn't play Yu-Gi-Oh!', but she took a seat, learned to play with a volunteer from Konami, played against her brother, and won!”

Global Gossip circled the world, visiting every continent on the planet! Here is what participants had to say:

  • “The kids really enjoyed playing a game that they knew started in another part of the world, although it did take awhile to explain that there are libraries in Antarctica. They did not believe me at first when I said the game was going to be played on all 7 continents. They also assumed the game would only be played in English. When I explained the phrase would be passed around in other languages they were even more excited to play.” - La Porte County Public Library, La Porte, IN
  • “I liked getting the message from Oregon and passing it onto Alaska. It will be interesting to see how much the message has changed as it went around the globe.” - Hawaii Kai Public Library, Honolulu, HI
  • “Our Global Gossip experience was a lot of fun! Our participants were excited to connect with such a diverse group of libraries.” - Holmes County Library - East Branch, Walnut Creek, OH
  • “It was great; it generated some fun energy around the library. The nice thing was that it got some people involved who wouldn't have normally participated in IGD, like a man at our library who just comes to read the newspaper. He participated and said, 'I haven't done something like that in ages. That was fun!'” - Midlothian Public Library, Midlothian, IL
  • “A shy 4-year-old kid screwed up the courage to ask for the Secret and was visibly proud of himself for having done so and then passed it on.”
  • “Everyone was mesmerized by the fact that the secret phrase had come from Antarctica. It would then travel to Uganda. The entire world across seven continents is participating.” - American Library, New Delhi, India
  • “The students, parents, and teachers absolutely loved playing the Global Gossip Game. This aspect, I think even more than the physical games themselves, was a source of incredible excitement. In the process of communicating with our contacts in the Global Gossip Game, we have formed a relationship with people we never would have met. These connections are very powerful for our community. Many great conversations occurred revolving around verifying information, the transmission of information in an oral tradition, and the validity of translated information. Our experience with the Global Gossip Game illustrates what I hope to teach students and faculty every day. This has been an amazing experience for us all.”

As for how the game ended... well, let's just say that it started as the quote “Play is training for the unexpected”, and it wasn't wrong! The game split into 5 different chains, ending with “I love the world”, “Zombie”, “Clouds travel around the world”, “Glow, glow, peanut butter jelly”, and “Ian needs help” - and travelled through even more hilarious mutations along the way. The final report is online if you want to read more about this great event.

Tournaments are also a part of the IGD day. Ann Arbor (Mi) District Library coordinates these tournaments (thanks again, Ann Arbor!). This year 29 libraries participated in Super Smash Bros. The finals pitted Grimes Public Library, IA against Lawrence Public Library, KS, with Lawrence the victors.

The 19 libraries that participated in Mario Kart were racing on 4 different recommended tracks. Here are the fastest times for each track:

Mushroom Cup: Luigi Circuit

Winner: Evan M., Shapiro Library, Southern New Hampshire University, 1:18.031

Mushroom Cup: Mushroom Gorge

Winner: Lucas, St. Charles Public Library, 1:40.789

Flower Cup: Mario Circuit

Winner: Cooper, Long Beach Public Library, 1:30.277

Flower Cup: Coconut Mall

Winner: ACFPL Teens, Atlantic City Free Public Library, 1:46.346"

Congratulations all to these champions!

And speaking of champions: thank you once again to the tiny team of volunteers who brought it all together, to the hundreds of local libraries who took advantage of the opportunity to share games, play, and creative activities with their patrons, and of course to the thousands of people all over the world who took part in this celebration of libraries and the community of the mind! All best wishes to everyone for a happy, fun-filled, well-read 2014!

(Addendum: Keep the date of Saturday 15 November 2014 clear...)

Final post – thank you!

Posted on November 14, 2013

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!
Phil Minchin

November update – a week and a bit to go…

Posted on November 6, 2013

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. [1] 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!



[1] 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 :P)

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]

Surprise bonus play: extra games!

Posted on October 25, 2013

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.

Surprise bonus play: extra libraries!

Posted on October 25, 2013

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!

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