Hi folks! Today we're holding off on our monthly Game News post a little. This last weekend was Gen Con, the biggest tabletop gaming convention in the US, so we're aiming to provide some coverage from folks who attended - once they've had a chance to get settled back in! (If you made it, we'd love to throw your perspective into the mix - be in touch!) Meanwhile, here's a guest post from a very energetic young chap from the UK talking about how - in true gamer fashion - he overcame obstacles and solved problems to hold a highly successful International Games Day in the UK before the day even was officially International. Take it away, Scott!
My name’s Scott Mason and I’ll be your guest writer today, talking about how I’ve been spending the last few years helping to bring IGD@yl to the UK ^_^. I’m 25, live in South Staffordshire, England and I work for Staffordshire Libraries, currently as the Supervisor for Perton Library (but I’ve been here in one job or another going on 7 years now!).
Gaming has always been a big part of my childhood and something that has grown with me to become a real passion of mine. A lot of people always give me strange looks when I describe ‘games’ that way, but to me, it’s just another medium the same as books, film, music or art and when it’s perfectly acceptable to love each of those as much as people do, I hold no shame in my love for games.
You may know that in Northern Europe games are massively popular - despite the abundance of huge games conventions in the States (who me, jealous?), the world's single largest annual games convention is actually Spiel, in Essen, Germany. The existence of a regional Nordic Game Day is just further proof that games are going strong over there. To tell us more, here's the organiser of Nordic Game Day, Thomas Vigild! Thanks Thomas!
Aarhus Library in Denmark
Huge high fives from the Nordics, where the preparations for Nordic Game Day 2013 are going really well. Right now over 60 libraries all over the region have enlisted their official support for Nordic Game Day - and Norway is leading the charge - but many more will follow, as we gear up with more events, talks, competitions and tournaments on November 16th.
Games have become a natural and essential part of the Nordic libraries, and especially in Denmark this has been the case for many years. Many libraries in Denmark have dedicated game-librarians, who are skilled in how to communicate about games and cook up events for the patrons.
But libraries in Norway and Sweden are really quickly catching up these years, because many librarians have discovered the social power of games - both physical board games and digital games on both consoles, browsers and tablets.
One example is Drammen library in Norway, where they are hosting an annual “Spilnatt” (“Games Night”), which have hundred of kids standing in line to get into the library. During the night the library hosts all sorts of competitions, showcases of new both international and Nordic games and sometimes also board games, card games like Magic or roleplaying games.
At Nordic Game Day 2013 the big Nordic competition will go down in the beautiful and wonderful crazy mini-golf game ‘Wonderputt’ made for browsers. We wanted to find a non-violent game with awesome graphics and strong gameplay which was easy to get into, so here ‘Wonderputt’ seemed like a good match. The main prize is the new upcoming Sony PlayStation 4, so we´re expecting heavy resistance on the virtual golf-courses all across the region 🙂
Furthermore the Nordic libraries hosts a lot of regional tournaments in games like FIFA, Mario Kart, Magic: the Gathering, Singstar, Trackmania, Kinect games and also the physical quiz-board game Bezzerwizzer - and yes: quizzing is really big in the Nordics. The main library in Malmø (Sweden) will also feature an exhibition of old classic board games from the 70s, so there will be something for everybody during this Nordic Game Day.
We hope IGD is also doing well, and see ya later 🙂
- Thomas Vigild, coordinator for Nordic Game Day (supported by Nordic Game Institute)
More pictures from Nordic Game Day 2012 here!
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.
If you're in the mood for a puzzle, see if you can guess what this is (or just scroll down):
("Abstract art" is not the answer I'm looking for - potentially correct though that may be anyway)
Here are three hints - click-and-drag to see the hidden text on each line.
Harder hint: Try using Street View.
Medium hint: Zoom out.
Easier hint: Try turning on Satellite view, then zooming out.
Scroll down for the answer:
If you guessed "the Antarctic library that will be joining us on International Games Day", better known as the base library at Casey Station, once again you are technically correct, but that still is not the answer I'm looking for. That answer would be: "the home of today's guest author - and the host of the Antarctic wing of International Games Day @ your library and the Global Gossip Game - Ben McKay".
Before I hand over to Ben, let me just say: Casey Station is one of the most far-flung outposts of humanity on the planet. That we are able to connect with them, even just to share a game or two, is both a marvel and a privilege. Much as I love IGD@yl in and of itself, I have to confess that knowing we're joined by people even on Antarctica is probably going to be my favourite thing of this year.
So thanks Ben - for the post, and for the vital work you and your colleagues do in extraordinary conditions! Library folks all over the world send best wishes to you all.
Take it away, Mr McKay!
My name is Ben McKay, and I'm originally from Sydney. I have worked in Antarctica for 6 years now, and this is my first season in Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). I'm based in Casey Station, which is south of Western Australia, near Vincennes Bay on the Antarctic mainland.
Against the backdrop of a beautiful aurora, clear signposting makes Casey Station dead easy to get to.
My job here is to oversee the maintenance of the machinery and facilities that are specifically for aviation operations, as well as operating machinery to keep station clear of snow and to construct the snow runway (ski-way) at the end of winter so a plane can land and drop off the summer staff and supplies.
[What Ben is too modest to mention himself is that on top of his day job, he also keeps the base library running! He has support from a Librarian back at AAD headquarters in Tasmania, but he's the bloke on site. However, he did send us some photos, included below.]
The library includes a range of activities, including puzzles and games - as well as books, of course! The shelves behind the table hold the collections on Antarctica and polar history, but the AAD ensures that there's plenty of other material as well.
Some of the station's winter crew connect to the wider world through technologies old and new.
Casey Station is home to 20 staff during the winter months. These include trades personnel, a chef, a doctor, communication technicians, Bureau of Meteorology staff, a storeman, and a station leader. The job of the winter crew is to keep the station running and have everything ready for the summer program when most of the research is performed.
The annual Casey Station Midwinter Dinner. In summer, hundreds of new scientific personnel come to Casey, but most leave before winter closes in; the winter crew keeps the station ticking over through the bitter Antarctic cold. By the time International Games Day @ your library arrives, Casey will be in full swing again. Depending on duty rosters, participants in the Global Gossip Game may get a chance to play with dozens of these Antarctic adventurers!
Casey is an important station because it has an ice runway to land jet aircraft on wheels and therefore serves as a transport hub for the three AAD stations on the continent. The areas around the station are rich in wildlife and mosses so there is a lot of opportunity to perform research close to base. The station is also home to some large remediation projects that are aimed at reducing the environmental impact that humans have had on this part of Antarctica in the past and at the present.
These are just three of the billions of reasons that the environmental and scientific work of our Antarctic explorers matters: what happens in Antarctica can affect not only its inhabitants but the rest of the planet. In the very best tradition of libraries everywhere, the library at Casey not only shares the vast wealth of human knowledge, but supports its users to add to it.
Along with an ice runway for wheeled aircraft, Casey also has a 'skiway' for aircraft that land on skis. This allows the station to be used as a base for science to be performed in the field - for example, drilling ice cores in remote areas of Antarctica, which is essential if we are to understand what the climate was like in the past. Having the ability to access and transport equipment and personnel to and from these remote locations using ski-equipped aircraft makes Casey very important to the AAD.
Thanks for reading, everyone - I hope this little taste of the Antarctic has whetted your appetites, and look forward to joining you all on International Games Day @ your library!
The Australian Antarctic Division Library is Australia's national resource for Antarctic information and delivers library, reference and information services to meet the scientific, research, operational and support activities of the Division. Subject areas have an Antarctic focus and include marine biology, glaciology, atmospheric physics, climate change, polar medicine, geoscience, engineering, logistics, meteorology, oceanography, human impacts on the environment, and environmental management, as well as, Antarctic and international policy and Antarctic Treaty information.
The main library, located in Kingston, Tasmania, contains around 12,000 monographs and 1200 journal titles. In addition, there are small recreational reading collections at Australia’s three permanent stations Casey, Davis and Mawson, and the sub-Antarctic station at Macquarie Island.
Current map of IGD participants.