International Games Week October 29 – November 4

International Games Week


Posted on August 4, 2014

Citizens Worldwide! Your attention please for

AADL Presents:

A week-long Minecraft Hunger Games tournament
open to libraries of all types, all over the world!



(your "district" is your branch, your school,
or your library system; districts will be grouped regionally for competition)

A SPACE for your EVENT
(at least 2 hours at some point during the week up to and including IGD)

1 COMPUTER with browser for staff communication
(a chatroom will be used to communicate competition matchups, results, and updates
- and also for live support!)

2 COMPUTERS with Minecraft installed and an internet connection
(or more if you want more simultaneous players in qualifying matches at your library)

2 TRIBUTES to represent your DISTRICT
(1 boy and 1 girl! We're doing this by the book!)



in the cloud to run your event! (Yep, we configure it for you!)

A GTSYSTEM account to keep score and handle registration


COMPLETE INSTRUCTION on moderating and running your event

LIVE HELP from other libraries and event staff via chat during your event



Whether your TRIBUTES are chosen at the REAPING, or if you have ample VOLUNTEERS, your players will represent your DISTRICT in a series of PVP SURVIVAL MATCHES inside a Minecraft World.

Last Tribute standing earns points for their District.

Matches can take place anytime in the week leading up to IGD, but must involve at least TWO DISTRICTS. Matchmaking will be easy through the gtsystem chatrooms. The Districts that have the highest total and average scores will be INVITED to send TWO TRIBUTES on to the REGIONAL or INTERNATIONAL FINALS on IGD!

Just make sure to register through the IGD Form ( as being interested in this event, book a room at your venue for anytime the week of November 10 - November 15, and you'll be contacted with details and next steps in September. Questions or concerns? Email the team at for help.




IGD Anecdotes: Program ideas!

Posted on July 10, 2014

Getting excited for International Games Day? Yay!

This year, IGD will be running Minecraft Hunger Games, an exciting new program which will be played district by district across the country, and hopefully the world. All your library needs in order to participate is one computer with Internet access. The Global Gossip Game will return this year.  If you are not familiar, it is a game of Telephone in which a phrase is passed from player to player within a library, and then from library to library all over the planet. As we draw closer to this exciting event, more details will be provided about these games.

Getting antsy about what you’d like to try this year? Let’s get the brain juices going with some program ideas libraries have run in past IGD events. For those in warmer climates, consider a few outdoor games by clicking here. These are also a good way to get the blood flowing after a long, stationary board game.

Many libraries have multiple branches which each may have their own space and time limitations. One library in Michigan didn’t let this stop the fun. In the month leading up to the IGD, each branch participated in a puzzle contest. This helped to promote and spread excitement for the day itself, and also allowed the branches which could not participate on the game day to be involved. If you’re in a library setting with multiple units or branches, this could be an engaging way to get others involved without too large a commitment for the day of IGD. A mini Gossip Game between branches could be another great way to connect all the libraries in a system and get more patrons involved.

[Ed: as the organizer of the Global Gossip Game, I fully support this idea. What's more, I'll say right now that if one of your library branches gets a spot in the official game, and you use that as the basis for your own local game, I will include it as its own branch in the final report. Even if you don't get a spot in the Global game, I'm still happy for you to use the materials from the GGG as the basis for your game, and would love to hear from you how it all went!]

Feel like controlling what games your patrons engage with on IGD? Want to keep some of your visitors from start to finish? Throw a competitive component into the mix. A library in Ohio set up a competition throughout the day where points were accumulated for playing the most games. At the end of the day, one Games Master was kindly awarded for his activities.

A local video game tournament is always fun. Using a fighting game such as Injustice, a bracket could be set up with the winner of each bout moving on. Having different levels of the competition with beginners in one bracket and experience players in another might be a good way to keep one person from dominating too much.

Tabletop wargaming which uses miniature figurines to fight battles, such as Warhammer 40K, is also a popular type of gaming. There are somewhat more pieces required for this type of gaming, such as terrain and the miniatures themselves, but it could be worth poking around to see if anyone in your area would be interested in organizing some wargames for IGD. Another fun activity could be a miniatures painting workshop where experienced wargamers could give tips and tricks to new gamers for painting the miniatures - there is some real art in this aspect of the hobby!

An exciting program some libraries have organized is to have a game designer visit the library in person or over Skype. This can be a great way to learn more about what goes into designing a game and to ask questions of the designers themselves. It is the same idea as an author visit, but with games instead of books. This could also be a great opportunity to have students or patrons try designing their own games. Check out the Tabletop Deathmatch show hosted by Cards Against Humanity to see some of the great things independent amateur designers are coming up with. This could include your patrons!

So have fun, try new things, and play games!

International Games Day Anecdotes

Posted on June 5, 2014

Welcome to our very first edition of IGD Anecdotes, where we share the memorable stories, ideas, and experiences of previous library participants!  As you read, consider bringing some of these ideas and experiences to your library so you can share your story with us at the end of the year.  Let’s not forget that International Games Day @ your library is about reconnecting communities around the social, recreational, and educational value of all types of games.  Whether it attracts experienced gamers or curious non-gamers, individuals from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life congregate, forming new experiences and stories to tell.


Stories of Teaching and Learning

Although games are often perceived as trivial play, many of us overlook the significant learning and teaching that takes place.  The assessment survey of IGD 2013 provided stories of how games transformed public, school, and academic libraries into social environments immersed in teaching and learning.  This phenomena is far from pointless.

At UCLA, students are honing their skills to design games for a living.  Students from the Design | Media Arts school presented their tabletop games assigned for their Game Design course at UCLA’s College Library.  They shared the creative process involved in making the game (e.g., handcrafting the pieces, building the story, creating the rules) and provided an interactive teaching and learning experience so that visitors could engage and play. Attendees sat around and learned how to play while listening to the inspirations behind the creator of the game. If you are interested in applying a similar activity in your library, be strategic and contact a target community in the local area that has applied their creative talents to an end product that will enhance the event. For example, in addition to inviting student game designers, the UCLA Library also invited student musicians to perform an hour-long video game music concert at noon.  Performers want an audience, game designers want players, and you want attendees.  The additional effort to coordinate was worthwhile for the UCLA Library, building their local network for years to come.  You can, too!

Many attendees may be learning a new game for the first time.  One high school library anticipated this scenario and organized “Teach me” tables that were moderated by faculty.  In this case, students who did not know how to play a particular game learned how to play games such as Risk, Sheepshead, Settlers of Catan, and Dominican Dominoes.  No matter how simple or advanced a game may be, the faculty themselves must learn or relearn the rules of play in order to properly moderate and teach their students.  If you are interested in implementing a similar idea, set tables to attract attendees who may not be familiar with the new game, and find volunteers with expertise with the games to help moderate the game.  If attendance is low, moderators should play to get the game started.  Reading the rules help, but experiencing through play is one of the best ways to retain and understand the rules.

People enter public libraries from all walks of life.  An elderly gentleman from Ukraine attended a public (urban) library in the U.S..  Though he knew very little English, a young woman helped him with Scrabble at every turn and when the game was over, he was pleased to learn new “American words.”  In addition to increasing one’s vocabulary in a foreign language, the games provided a way for connecting people.  Take a moment to look around the room during your event.  Is anyone sitting alone in front of a tabletop game?  Are they struggling to begin a video game?  Delegate your volunteers to help another and they too will learn something new and even if they are not a moderator, they can add to yet another teaching moment of the day.  We are there to serve as a community hub for lifelong learning in the library.


Meeting and Interacting with New People

International Games Day provides an excellent opportunity for people to develop the social skills critical for effective communication and interaction with other people.  In-person or online, games can make this process much easier.

Certain communities are more diverse than others and the survey revealed that one academic (suburban) library was “really happy to see that a very diverse group of college students attended events at the library for international game day.”  It appeared as though the participants playing the Mario Kart time trials came on their own and challenged people they have never met.  This library was pleased to see that the library could be “a place to meet new people and make friends.”  There is no question IGD pulls together diverse populations to engage in the diversity of games.

The survey also revealed interactions between traditional and home-schooled students at a rural public library.  Organizers were pleased with the social aspect of IGD programming which were particularly effective for “students who have underdeveloped social skills and are less likely to participate actively in [their] programs.”  Games can be inherently social and the choice of game can change the interaction and the dynamics of that interaction.  It is important to consider the type of library one works for and consider the diversity of one’s own community.

An example of an inherently social game that IGD @ your library welcomes all to participate in is the Global Gossip Game.  It is an excellent example of how such a simple, social interaction could bring forth lengthy conversations, laughter, and learning, simultaneously.  One high school suburban library stated that “[t]he students, parents, and teachers absolutely loved playing the GGG.  This aspect, I think even more than the physical games themselves, was a source of incredible excitement.”  Students learn the history of the game, interact directly and indirectly with the understanding that others have participated, and as a result, meet and socialize with other people.


The survey presented many other stories and facts, so stay tuned for the next edition of IGD Anecdotes!  We hope that these stories provide motivation and inspiration.  We are just over five months away from the 7th annual celebration of IGD and if your library seeks to connect with the rest of the world on this memorable day, now is the time to start planning your successful event!

Special Guest Post: Yu-Gi-Oh in the library – Lisa Brien, Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

Posted on September 30, 2013

Another special guest post, this time from Lisa Brien of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, talking about the value her community gets from the regular Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments the library runs. One point I neglected to mention in the general post on rules-play games was the way in which CCGs excel at fostering metagame discussion as cards are compared for their merits, strategies discussed, and trades made (as Lisa shows us below, trading is a key part of collectible card games, and in fact an alternative acronym for "CCG" is "TCG", Trading Card Game). In my defense I can only say that there are so many interesting aspects of games to mention that I am bound to miss some... anyway, thanks for the post, Lisa, and over to you!


There is no game in Topeka that is more intensely played than the bi-monthly Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments held at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Teens from all over the county gather to pit their decks and skills against each other.  As they wait for the doors to open to our teen room, The Edge, they pace the halls outside as they check and double check their decks in preparation.


Our library has hosted Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments continuously since the card game was first released nearly 11 years ago.  Many of our young patrons come to the library after school to meet up with fellow players and practice their dueling skills, but the tournament marks the highlight of the month.


Throughout the years we have tested many forms of game play, from multiplayer casual play, to traditional one-on-one dueling.  However, for our official tournaments we use advanced play, which involves banning certain cards that are deemed to be too advantageous.  Thankfully, we have a volunteer Yu-Gi-Oh! expert who has competed at a national level to help run these tournaments.


After the brackets have been played, and the winners have exercised their bragging rights, the top players are given an unopened pack of cards.  These are highly prized as they always have the potential to reveal a rare, powerful card. Then the trading begins! This negotiation for cards is nearly as intensely anticipated as the game itself.

Special guest post: Engaging with games the library way – Thomas Knowlton, NYPLarcade

Posted on September 15, 2013

Hi folks! From the Antarctic desert to the urban jungle, our third special guest takes us now to New York, NY, and Mid-Manhattan Library for another fantastic guest post, this time from Thomas Knowlton of the NYPL. Thanks Thomas!


One of the most exciting aspects of International Games Day (IGD) is the way in which it promotes game literacy and invites library patrons to join the conversation about games. At Mid-Manhattan Library, the day-long celebration is an opportunity for patrons to experience a new board game they’ve never played, try out a Playstation 3 or Steam for the first time, or even discuss synaesthesia in video games. This led me to wonder, “How could the public library provide a forum year-round for exploring and discussing games?”

In April 2012, I launched the NYPLarcade series at Mid-Manhattan Library, beginning with a four-week program highlighting the games of designer Jenova Chen, Creative Director at thatgamecompany. Chen had just released Journey, a downloadable title for the Playstation Network. Each event included a short 5 to 10 minute introduction of the game, as well as an opportunity for participants to the play the title, followed by a 15 to 20 minute guided discussion. Many of our discussions focused on Ian Bogost’s incisive article for the Atlantic, A Portrait of the Artist as a Game Studio, and Jenova Chen’s fascination with Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow.


Atmospheric horror in spooky fairy story LIMBO (Playdead, 2010)


For the next program, Horror Games, I focused on a variety of horror-themed video games, including Playdead’s LIMBO (a Danish game inspired by Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart and Tove Jansson’s Moomin series), and experimental, free-to-download games like Slender: The Eight Pages, Hide, and SCP-087. Focusing on a genre allowed the discussions to consider related media: the Lindgren book mentioned above, horror movies, and internet lore such as “creepypasta” and the SCP Foundation.

International Games Day 2012 was a great opportunity to build on the video game programming the Library hosted over the year and promote upcoming NYPLarcade events as well. Last year we expanded our schedule and offered a rotating program of four music-themed video games throughout the afternoon—ranging from rhythm game Rock Band Blitz to synaesthetic racer Dyad. One of the highlights of the event was talking with participants about the selected titles and about games and gaming platforms in general: “What other synaesthetic games have you played?” “I’m actually designing a game with similar mechanics to BIT.TRIP BEAT.” “On which console is Rez available?”


Ambient landscape exploration in Proteus by Ed Key & David Kanaga (2013)

After IGD, I was eagerly reading through many of the year-end gaming lists, which inspired the idea for the NYPLarcade 2012 Video Game Showcase—a series of events featuring six video game titles from 2012 that were not covered by NYPLarcade that year. The Showcase highlighted some of my favorite games from the past year—prominent independent releases like Papo & Yo and Sound Shapes, along with smaller, inventive titles like Super Hexagon, Dys4ia, and Proteus. The series drew a lot of attention to the curatorial aspect of library game programs—many of the participants mentioned they had been meaning to play titles like FTL: Faster Than Light and Hotline Miami, but the Library provided them with the opportunity to try them out. Polygon, the video game news site, posted a great article about both the Showcase and NYPLarcade titled “New York Public Library Adds Video Games to its Film and Book Discussion Groups”.

 This Spring, NYPLarcade featured a five-week, chapter-by-chapter play-through of Spec Ops: The Line, developed by Yager and published by 2K Games. The game has a provocative, yet ambiguous narrative inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which is told through relatively self-contained, linear gameplay - making it a perfect fit for this program’s format. It was our first time playing a larger budget, mainstream release. It was also our first time discussing a single game over a multiple-week period, which allowed us to have a deeper discussion about the game’s design and gave us an opportunity to utilize Brendan Keogh’s book-length treatment of the game, Killing is Harmless.


Gung-ho combat action that questions its own premises in Spec Ops: The Line by Yager (2012)


If you are interested in starting a game program at your library, the three most important things I’ve learned from my experience with NYPLarcade are:

1) Play and discuss a wide variety of games. Although it seems like the most popular and best-selling games will draw the biggest crowds, it’s often the niche titles and experimental releases that attract gamers and non-gamers to library events and provoke the most interesting conversations among participants.

2) Pick a theme. In my experience, it's essential to pick a theme (game designer, genre, era, etc.) for each series, which naturally lends itself to compare/contrast questions and helps draw larger audiences. While digital distribution has helped to diversify the selection of games, as it offers an enormous variety of new releases, curating these into series can help patrons draw connections between games as well as discover new titles they enjoy.

3) Make your library gaming program unique. I often think of the advice given by Eli Neiburger (Ann Arbor District Library)—that the key to successful gaming programs is to create something that patrons can’t find anywhere else. This could be as simple as offering a forum for 30 people to all play and discuss a single game (not something they are likely to find at home in their living room) or it could be as complex as inviting local designers to demo and talk about their games.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are interested in starting a similar program at your library. You can reach me by email at thomasknowlton (at) nypl (dot) org or on Twitter at @thomasknowlton.

Thomas Knowlton is a senior librarian at New York Public Library. He holds a Master of Arts in Comparative Literature from the University of Georgia and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Rutgers. Over the past 10 years, he has curated a variety of independent, foreign, and cult film series at the University of Georgia and New York Public Library. His most recent project, NYPLarcade, offers participants the opportunity to play and critically discuss video games in a public library setting and has been featured on Polygon, Gamasutra, and NPR.

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