As you forge ahead with your IGD plans, you may be focusing on certain age groups: kids, teens, twentysomethings, or beyond! Your target group may shape what type of games you introduce – but fear not should you encounter a mixed combination of groups. Be spontaneous and flexible with adjustments because you’ll never know who will show up until the day arrives. You may soon realize that the level of a game could have broad appeal regardless of one’s age.
People of all ages can play a good tabletop game together, or even a video game. From past IGD events, various libraries have observed people of all ages teaching and playing games together. For instance, in one public library:
[A] tween came wanting to learn Magic: the Gathering and brought her first deck. A group of college guys mentored her in the game, giving her tips and strategies. She left much more confident in her gaming skills, and very excited to teach her friends. 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.
(As a side note, this story exemplifies the value of having teachers on-site to make games an opportunity to learn and critically assess both one’s play of a game and the structures of the game itself. Games such as Magic teach us how to think strategically, and it’s always helpful to get that reinforcement which builds confidence.)
At a library in Vermont there was a large group of teens that came to a game day; as the day progressed more adults joined, and the teens invited them to play a number of games. At one game of Forbidden Island, a cooperative game where players try and beat the island, a teen, a twentysomething, and two people in their fifties and sixties played together. The island won in the end but everyone involved had to work together to form a strategy and problem-solve. This kind of intergenerational interaction can be difficult to get with other programs.
At the UCLA Library, most attendees at the last two IGD events at the undergraduate library were college students. However, librarians and library staff also attended, bringing their children to learn and play games like Settlers of Catan. An 8-year-old boy taught a library staff member how to play Settlers. A group of young teenage volunteers taught another librarian how to play the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. Games are suitable for a wide range of age groups, and guess what? They do not discriminate!
Consider IGD at your library to attract a diversity of age groups to learn and play together!
Welcome to the next edition of ALA’s IGD Anecdotes!
Libraries from all over the world have the potential for successful participation in International Games Day. Our survey indicates evidence of success reinforced by positive reactions and interactions between library visitors, regular patrons, staff, and other community members. The library types vary between public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries. Stories from past years indicate that any kind of library can be a venue for an IGD event - here are some success stories from past years.
In a rural public library, one library commented, "I was pleased to see interaction between home-schooled students and traditional students. The social aspect of this type of program is especially useful to students who have underdeveloped social skills and are less likely to participate actively in our programs." Activities from IGD provide opportunities for students to participate and interact in ways that are not available for many home-schooled students. IGD is effective at getting students to step out of their comfort zones so that they can interact with their peers in safe, fun, and engaging ways.
From a suburban academic library: "I was really happy to see that a very diverse group of college students attended events at the library for international game day. It seemed that participants for the time trials came alone and played with people they had never met. Great to see the library as a place to meet new people and make friends." There is no question that multi-player racing games like Mario Kart bring people together in a fun, playful, and competitive way. College students, particularly new first-year freshmen or transfer students who are building their network and making connections, acquire tremendous benefits from IGD events.
From a suburban high school library: "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 or 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."
From an urban public library: "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!" In urban areas where children are bilingual and developing their language skills, having a game at the epicenter could help develop basic words that can be associated in Spanish and English. It is also an opportunity for non-Spanish speakers to pick up basic words in a foreign language as well.
And from another urban public institutional library, halfway around the world: "Everyone was mesmerized by the fact that the secret phrase [of the Global Gossip Game] had come from Antarctica. It would then travel to Uganda. The entire world across seven continents is participating."
The impact that IGD has on people can be enlightening. Not everyone realizes the potential and possibilities in which games could bring people together from different continents around the world all at the same time. Discoveries such as this could inspire people to learn more about the world around them.
Thanks Hannah! And don't forget that this year we have an entirely new offering - AADL's amazing Minecraft Hunger Games! We're looking forward to seeing what you all think of that...
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!
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!