The surveys are in, and what comes through loud and clear is that National Gaming Day @ your library continues to strengthen communities and bring diverse groups of people together. As the heart of the community, the library remains the most viable institution to bridge generational gaps, enable new social interactions, and reinforce positive connections in a truly inclusive environment.
This year's numbers and anecdotes again tell a story too often missing from today's news: families taking time to play together; teens and seniors teaching each other to play their favorite games; kids playing together who wouldn't even talk to each other at school; students from foreign countries playing universal games that overcome language barriers; kids learning how to play together, take turns, and demonstrate good sportsmanship; participants seeing their libraries and librarians in a new light; and so much more.
- Number of libraries registered to participate: 1,412
- Number of libraries that submitted # of players for NGD activities: 739
- Total number of players for NGD11 activities: 27,767
- Number of libraries that participated in the 4th National Super Smash Bros Brawl tournament: 39 (the Ann Arbor (MI) District Library won again)
- Number of libraries that participated in the 30th Anniversary Frogger High Score Contest: 7
- There was at least one library registered to participate in all 50 U.S. states (plus the Virgin Islands).
- Number of non-US libraries that participated (that we know of): 21 libraries in 14 countries
- The largest demographic group of attendees was families (21.9%), followed by a mix of ages (19.3%) and a mix of children and teens (18.9%)
But the numbers aren't the real story. Once again the true spirit of the day is what happens at each library, as the following anecdotes provided by librarians prove.
- "My favorite part of NGD is when kids who don't hang out together at school are here and behave like they have been the best of friends forever. And the way gaming brings different generations together through teamwork at beating the big boss in the video game or learning a new board game together. They are having fun without all the prejudices." - Wister (OK) Public Library
- "We had different generations of participants play the games together, with the college students showing a late 50's woman how to play Super Mario Brothers. The woman was all excited when she actually was able to get to the 2nd level and was amazed at the skill of the students who easily surpassed her score." - Courtright Memorial Library (Westerville, OH)
- "I loved the fact that some kids took the leadership role in our Gaming day...I overheard one child ask....'Mom....do you know how to play Memory?', 'I can teach you.' " - Appleton (MN) Public Library
- "As always, the interaction between players is astounding. Students of different ages and playing ability played next to each other, and the more experienced players were more than willing to share what they know." - St. Charles (IL) Public Library
- "It was really neat to see adults trying their hand at the Wii games, where kids & teens 'know it all', and then to see those same kids & teens learn some of the more 'traditional' games that the adults have grown up with and already know. Hmmm, learning from another generation...@ the library...who'd a thunk it?!?" - Citizens Library (Washington, PA)
- "A child who is new to the neighborhood made 2 friends at 'Get Your Game On.'" - Montvale (VA) Library
- "NGD helped promote intergenerational gaming. We had a group of different ages playing Scrabble. Each one shared a moment playing Words With Friends or other word games that have helped their vocabulary and that is why they wanted to play Scrabble at the event. We had two participants that were on the local high school chess team that offered pointers to others that wanted to learn and play (including myself). Watching the personalities of the children shine when writing answers for Loaded Questions and Awkward Family Photos was great to see. We all had laughs and enjoyed the time playing. Everyone had a great time dancing to all sorts of music in Dance Central 2 as well!" - Rossford (OH) Public Library
- "I loved seeing the kids all playing Zombies! and really going after each other. They played for over an hour and not one teen pulled their phone to text or anything. That is a unique thing that happened." - Belfry (KY) Public Library
- "Many good things happened during National Gaming Day including watching a pair of shy sisters come out of their shells and have a ball playing with others and watching an autistic boy who often has behavior problems playing with the other kids and enjoying the experience without any issues at all." - Mead Public Library (Sheboygan, WI)
- "The teens LOVED it when I could look at the Smash screen and tell them 'Your opponents are in (insert state name here).' It opened up a whole new world for them. Also, there was one boy who attended with an older sibling and had special needs. He was neither chronologically nor developmentally a teen, but the teens adopted him as one of their own, allowing him to have his turn and play alongside them. I was so proud of my teens!!" - Commerce Township (MI) Community Library
- "As a school with a school population that includes out of town dormers and residents of Chicago that usually do not interact, this event provided a forum for people who would otherwise not engage in activities together to find a common ground." - Saul Silber Memorial Library (Chicago, IL)
- "Sometimes when people mention how 'board games are dead,' I always tell them about the popularity of board games at the library! - Rensselaer (IN) Public Library
- "[FamilyAndPartyGames.com] sending us board games helped those really shy kids be able to play something. Normally those shy ones would just stand around and watch the video gamers, but this year they had fun playing. The teachers that were there got them to sit down and join them for some great laughs." - South Grand Prairie (TX) Ninth Grade Center
- "[Gaming] is BY FAR the most popular weekly program for teens in grades 6-12 and if they had their way, they would participate on a daily basis. It has been a crucial component in linking many of these teens with reading material as well - many SciFi and Fantasy publishers have series that build upon these games - it's a great opportunity to connect with gamers and make it a social experience!" - Mahopac (NY) Public Library
We also want to thank FamilyAndPartyGames.com for their generous donation this year, which helped make this year's National Gaming Day such a great event.
Take note: we're moving this annual event up a week from the second Saturday of each November to the first Saturday of the month, so the newly named 2012 International Games Day will take place on Saturday, November 3rd. Mark your calendars now so you're ready for next year!
We've been hearing from a lot of libraries about how much fun patrons had at their National Gaming Day events, and now we have some numbers and anecdotes to help illustrate what happened. We're still going through the 845 survey responses, but here's what we've found so far.
- Number of libraries registered to participate: 1,882
- Number of libraries that submitted # of players for NGD activities: 787
- Total number of players for NGD activities: 26,504
- Number of libraries in the national Super Smash Bros Brawl tournament (simultaneous): 47
- Number of libraries in the national Rock Band High Score tournament (asynchronous): 40
- Number of non-US libraries that participated (that we know of): 5 (Canada, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, South Korea)
You can see more about the 2010 national video game tournament results or compare these numbers to the 2008 and 2009 Gaming Day events.
As usual, though, the anecdotes submitted by librarians are what really tell the story -- and success -- of National Gaming Day. This year, we again received stories about intergenerational gaming, kids and teens becoming more invested in their libraries, displays of sportsmanship, librarians building relationships with new patrons, and more. Here are just some of the stories that embody the goals and objectives of National Gaming Day @ your library.
- "...a lot of the teens who did not know each other before the event made friends and exchanged email/phone contacts with each other."
- "Our game day attracted people we wouldn't normally see in the library and we received rave reviews from them."
- "They even helped me clean up afterward! I was very lucky to have been blessed by 3 awesome (unofficial) teen volunteers that helped me control the crowd of rambunctious kids and tweens! (They now have volunteer applications and will hopefully soon be official.)"
- "A family with young children came in and instead of just getting on their own individual computers, they sat at a table and played Connect 4 together for about an hour. It was really fun to see the little girls and their parents all laughing and having a good time together."
- "Our high expectations were met: nothing was lost, broken or stolen; there was no smacktalking; everyone took turns; no fights or behavior problems; and a wide variety of ages played together, including teens with younger kids and older developmentally delayed adults. Also, no patrons complained about the noise or energy levels :)"
- "A reserved homeschooled high-schooler and a bouncy talkative middle-schooler ended up being our SSBB team for the final round -- and somehow in the course of the afternoon they'd developed a good luck ritual and handshake before they took up their controllers."
- "Most of the kids that attended the gaming program walked out of the library with books; many of those are not what we would call active/regular library users."
- "Two fathers stopped in with their children. Neither the children or the fathers knew each other but by the time they had finished their lunch they had exchanged addresses and the teen-aged daughters had become friends."
- "One patron, when he learned that the library stocked manga and anime, went scrambling out of the gaming room. He returned 5 minutes later with a stack of 15 books in hand."
- "The library has a chess table that was donated by a patron. Two elderly gentlemen, both friends, came to Gaming Day to use the chess table. They were so impressed by the turnout and the excitement they saw from the youth that they became excited about starting a chess club with the goal of teaching youth how to play chess. We also had several adult and senior gamers who, because of what they observed and participated in, are interested in forming a Wii bowling league after the holidays."
- "Gaming always brings new kids to our library and every time they want to be part of the fun and end up getting a library card."
- "It was nice to see our teens helping younger children to understand the math concepts used in Wits and Wagers Family Edition. The players discussed concepts like percentages and fractions in a way that made the younger players understand what the question was asking."
- "A senior citizen came in with his backgammon set and was happy to find someone to play with. He would like us to set up a backgammon club at the library which we will try to do. Also, it was interesting to note that several children who usually are a bit disruptive while waiting for their parents on the computers were very quiet and cooperative while playing the games."
- "Several people (of all ages) thanked us for hosting this event. One man told us he's a single father and sometimes forgets to just have fun with his kids. He appreciated us providing him with this opportunity to spend time having as a family enjoying themselves."
- "Most of the gamers stayed afterward and joined our Teen Council and were really engaged and energetic with new ideas for activities and programming."
- "We had a young lady attend who is physically disabled. She has very few friends and doesn't have many chances to interact with people. During the event, she was able to play games with a number of people."
- "The teens designed a gamer's card and the participants received a star for every station they visited--five stars earned them a 10.00 gift card from one of the local vendors. It was a very successful day and the teens saw their planning efforts pay off for themselves and the attendees."
- "This library serves a bilingual (predominantly French, then English) community; it was great to see the kids interacting with kids from the same neighbourhood but who go to different school and speak the other language."
- "The children were wonderful at taking turns playing Super Mario Brothers on Wii and really helped and encouraged each other, suggestions tips and tricks so that other players could succeed at the game. Some families stayed from beginning to end, taking breaks to get books and DVD's and then coming back for more games and snacks."
- "The kids were drawn to the assortment of games arrayed on the reading tables and many stayed for hours, inviting each other to join them in a game. Many of the kids in this neighborhood are from Mexican immigrant families and I was surprised to see how many were already familiar and excited about games such as Uno, mancala, Jenga, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland.... One of our Homework Helper volunteers showed up with his very nice chess set and stayed FIVE hours teaching the kids how to play chess! This is a game I did not think these kids would have patience for, but throughout the day, I continually saw kids hanging over the board with Ted, studying the pieces, trying out moves, and listening to Ted's comments and suggestions. I purchased a Scrabble en español to supplement the games collection and while no one picked this up to play, a Spanish-speaking mother used it to teach her toddler alphabet letters. She later commented to me what a great program and positive activity this was for the kids."
There were many more such stories, and they all highlight why National Gaming Day @ your library is such a positive event at all types of libraries. Remember to mark your calendar now for National Gaming Day 2011 on Saturday, November 12!
Eval at end of day at Haverhill Public Library
A big thank you to all of the libraries that responded to our feedback survey about your National Gaming Day activities for 2009. The big news is that we more than doubled participation all the way around!
Some specific numbers:
- Number of libraries registered to participate: 1,365
- Number of libraries that submitted # of players for NGD activities: 549
- Total number of players for NGD activities: 31,296
- Number of libraries in the national Super Smash Bros Brawl tournament (simultaneous): 42
- Number of libraries in the national Rock Band High Score tournament (asynchronous): 14
- Number of non-US libraries that participated (that we know of): 2 (Canada, Japan), with interest expressed from Morocco for next year)
For comparison, here's how these numbers stack up against last year's totals.
- Number of libraries registered to participate: 617
- Number of libraries that submitted # of players for NGD2008 activities: 557
- Total # of players for NGD2008 activities: 14,184
So overall, more than double the number of libraries registered to participate, and more than double the number of participants played at those libraries. Wow - you blew us away with your efforts and enthusiasm - thank you!
We were again impressed with the anecdotes librarians gave us in the feedback survey, too. Here's just a small sampling of the impact National Gaming Day had in communities across the country.
- "...I really witnessed a sense of community as potentially shy teens reached across the table and helped one another by whispering tips to each player during their SSB brawl matches. Additionally, without any prodding, those waiting to play or those who had "lost" their match, began forming groups to try out and play the board games sent to us from [...] Hasbro. It was wonderful to see middle school aged contestants and high schoolers come together to teach and play against/with one another."
- "It is usually very difficult to get boys into the library, but National Gaming Day changed that. On November 14th, there were boys waiting outside for the library to open! The boys all came for the Wii bowling tournament. Although our group was small, we had more boys in the library at one time (for a non-summer reading program) than I have seen in my eleven years working here."
- "My assistant (who also works in our school's Developmental Study Center) noticed that many of those students participated and were very successful at the games they played. While not always highly motivated or successful at more academic endeavors, they were able to compete with other students at the games they played and enjoyed the competition and especially the winning!"
- "This a a great opportunity for the teen members of the Game Club at our high school to take a leadership role in planning and carrying out an event for teens, their families and the community."
- "Two middle-schoolers, brothers, have very quietly attended our past two JTPL GAME DAY@ Your Library events. They had mostly played the Wii or watched others play. On Saturday we started with a big group game of Wits & Wagers, and then when that finished I offered Say Anything, "another game by those same guys." The two brothers came right over and played Say Anything with two 40-50-something librarians and three other kids for over an hour! They left briefly for a turn on the Wii--but came right back to jump into the next game, Taboo. Like several of our GAME DAY attendees, I don't think these boys had any intention of playing anything besides the Wii. They absolutely do not fit the profile of a typical library kid. But with gaming programs like we've started at our library, and national events like NGD promoted by the ALA and its terrific sponsors, we're certainly expanding the definition of a library kid!"
- "Both high schoolers and middle schoolers played amicably where there had been friction in weeks past, amongst themselves and with library staff. Teens were polite, taking turns w/o argument and using "please" when asking for a hot dog. (We've served hot dogs as part of the refreshment choices the last two bimonthly game days. Attendance has increased substantially.) No squabbles over the games and no taunting."
- "I'm a teen librarian with a dedicated teen room. Gaming is a great way for teens to get to know people outside their peer group. We have a teen who stutters a lot and doesn't interact much with the other kids who use the library. On Saturday he was playing with kids who normally ignore him (or worse) and I was right there gently moderating the interactions so everyone had a good time. Was it life changing? I don't think so. But I do think it helped build empathy and just gave them a positive shared experience they wouldn't have had otherwise."
- "While Gaming Day was going on I didn't notice it, but when we looked at photos afterwards, we saw a table of people playing Bananagrams which included a senior citizen, a college student, several high school students, and an elementary school student. Where else would you find such a mix of ages interacting and having a fun time? In a family, of course, but none of these people were related...it was just a cross section of the community. Another table of kids playing Clue included three high school students, one middle schooler and three elementary school students...boys and girls, black and white and Mexican. We were all just having fun playing games, but it was rather heart-warming to see the diversity in the photos afterwards, especially in our very small rural town."
- "One of our young patrons is blind. She brought her own deck of UNO cards with Braille. The kids enjoyed playing UNO and learning how she used Braille to play."
- "We had an 80 year old senior who comes to play Wii bowling with other seniors on Friday mornings. Some teens challenged her to a game of Wii bowling on National Gaming Day @ Your Library and she WON! The kids were amazed and thought it was great."
- "One of the parents went to the adult section to get on the internet while her son was in the program, and came back shocked at the number of people in the library and using the computers. She said she didn't think anyone used the library anymore, and noted that they had not come to the library in years before this program. She was impressed with how many services the library offers and what a vital part of the community it still is."
- "I have had teens waiting all year for this--we had that much fun last year! I also did a 'Game Day' of this size on the Saturday of Teen Tech Week last year and plan on doing it again this coming year. Some of the things I overheard this year: 'I didn't know the library was this cool!', 'Can we do this every month?', 'Do we have to leave?', 'I love my life!' "
- "We loved it! We're a small town, so our turnout was decent for such a program. It was great seeing teens and younger kids playing with adults. I'm excited about a senior who came in and offered to teach bridge to teens--I see this as a great intergenerational relationship-builder."