SALUTES THE TRIBUTES
MINECRAFT HUNGER GAMES
There were legends. Legends of a time when The Brothers of Super Smash Brawled across the Nation, delighting libraries of all types. With GT SYSTEM the glue that knitted cultures together, Libraries sent their bravest warriors into battle, with only one Library standing at the end of each November.
But one day, that all came to an end. Nintendo shut down the Brawl Servers, and the International Gaming Day Faithful looked to Michigan, wondering what could possibly come next, to fill the void left by this epic event that, since 2008, had held happy fighters at libraries across the nation.
Out of the ashes of a vanished server infrastructure arose a new opportunity; taking players not only from across the country but around the world into the worlds of Minecraft, trapping them in arenas, and forcing them to fight. To the death. Just like in the book!
Library districts arose across the Globe. Eventually 94 Districts organized themselves, 70 from what some would call Panem, 11 from the mysterious Old World of Europe, and 14 from the dangerous coasts of Australia. Each District chose a number and a specialty, and promised two Tributes, one Boy, and one Girl, to fight for their honor on International Games Day.
With a Minecraft Hunger Games server made available to each District, Reapings began in the week leading up to the day itself, as Libraries sent their young Minecrafters into battle to determine which among them possessed the skill, the knowledge, and the spirit to become a Victor.
With all in readiness, the Regional Semifinals swept across the globe with the night, beginning with the Australian Regionals. The Arena welcomed Tributes from Districts like District 79, Ivanhoe Library: The Art Deco Clock District, and District 150 in Monash, the Surprisingly Good Takeaway District. Eventually the two young Tributes from District 246, the Grafton Library in Grafton, NSW, survived to become the Australian Victors, ready to represent their Nation in the International Minecraft Hunger Games. GTSYSTEM Salutes the Tributes from all the Australian Districts, who fought with bravery and honor in the Arena, only to perish at the hands of the Tributes from Grafton.
Then the wave of battle reached Europe, and Tributes from Germany and Scandanavia met at the Server of the University library "Svetozar Markovic" in Belgrade, Serbia, the Science District. When the cannon had roared for the last time, the Tributes from District 447 at Stadtbücherei Münster in Germany, the Surviving You district, had indeed survived and claimed the right to represent all of the old world against the roiling masses of Minecraft Enthusiasts to be found across the Atlantic.
At last it was time for the 70 North American Districts to fight for supremacy. The Arena swelled with Tributes, leading to a quick split into two Arenas; one for the densely-districted East Coast, and another for the rest of what had once been North America. After much Minecraft Mayhem, the Tributes from District 708 in Providence, Rhode Island, the Advanced Wizardry District, had become Victors of the East, while the Tributes from District 303 at Denver Public Library, the Hatching Schemes District, had won out the west. Many Tributes lay where they had fallen, often for full seconds, before jumping up and joining other Arenas to play for "fun".
There was no hope for the Tributes. 8 skilled young players had fought their way to Victory and a place in the International Minecraft Hunger Games finals, but only one would survive. The Tributes found themselves in a small arena with few places to hide and even fewer chests to find weapons or sustenance. Before long, only two Tributes still lived; Rexalicious from StaBüMü in Germany, and CadyBrun from Providence. They charged at each other, bringing the week of competition to an intense climax. When the pixelly dust had settled Rex had fallen... and CadyBrun had survived.
CadyBrun, the Tribute from District 708 in Providence Rhode Island, playing at the Providence Community Library, had won the 2014 International Minecraft Hunger Games for International Gaming Day. With thousands of matches played throughout the week, and more than 50 Minecraft servers operating at once, the event had been a resounding success, leaving only one question:
What will the Gamemakers at GTSYSTEM, a service of Ann Arbor District Library, come up with next year?
Hi everyone! I have some news from the good folks at AADL.
We have at this moment 79 registered "Districts" (i.e. libraries) - 59 in North America, 9 in Europe, and 11 in Australia. Just the USA participation alone is more than twice the number in last year's Super Smash Bros. tournament! Mostly public libraries, and mostly in smaller towns, but a few University libraries.
(I'm also thrilled to see Australia so well represented - per capita, we're doing even better than the USA! Not that it's a contest... but if it were we would totally be winning 😛 And it's great to see so many of the European libraries getting on board as well. I hope you can use this as a springboard to get your local library associations on board too!)
Over the next week, each District will hold whatever qualifying events they choose to select the two players to represent their library, and the 2 selected Tributes from each of these libraries all over the world will be pitted against each other inside Minecraft arenas! Then, the International Minecraft Hunger Games regional semifinals, begin Saturday afternoon, November 15th.
Victors will advance to Regional Finals, and each regional Victor will then face off in an International Final Match!
Just pause for a second and appreciate what an achievement that is for libraries - because of what an opportunity that is for our communities. Most competitive computer gaming on this sort of scale is highly commercialised - and there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it does heavily limit the opportunities for people to participate.
But here we have an international - no, intercontinental - eSports contest whose only barriers to entry are, just as they are for libraries generally, interest and motivation. AADL deserves a great deal of thanks and credit for making that possible, but the libraries who have taken up the opportunity should pride themselves on doing so.
I look forward to reporting the outcome of this fabulous event!
ANN ARBOR DISTRICT LIBRARY PRESENTS:
INTERNATIONAL MINECRAFT HUNGER GAMES
WHAT IT IS:
A week-long Minecraft Hunger Games tournament, open to libraries of all types, all over the world! Play optional matches against nearby libraries any time the week of November 10 - 15, then select two tributes to send to the finals for your region on Saturday November 15! Each Library becomes a "District".
EACH LIBRARY WILL PROVIDE:
- A number and specialty for your "District" (i.e. team)
(These can be whatever you choose. Example: DISTRICT 343 - AADL - Ann Arbor, Michigan - The Used Record Store and Artisanal Corned Beef District)
- 2 Computers with Minecraft installed and connected to the internet.
- Use of 2 Minecraft logins (these can be your player's logins, or a shared library login if you've bought a Minecraft license)
- 1 Computer with internet connection for library staff to monitor and communicate
- Space to hold a Minecraft event anytime the week of November 10 - 15
- 2 "Tributes" (i.e. players), 1 boy and 1 girl if at all possible, if you wish to participate in the finals.
AADL WILL PROVIDE:
- GTSYSTEM Tournament Management account for each registered District
- Dedicated, preconfigured IMHG Server online
- Scoring Data
- Matchup Forums
- Tournament Updates
HOW IT WORKS:
Each library will register as a "District" and will receive gtsystem site and moderator accounts. Gtsystem includes the controls to start, stop and monitor your IMHG server. The servers will be available for testing starting November 3, and available for tournament play starting November 10.
You can have up to 32 players on your server at once. Each player needs a computer with Minecraft installed, an internet connection, and a valid Minecraft login. These can be the players' own logins, or logins bought by the library. Once you get logged in on one account, you won't need to switch logins between matches.
You can play Hunger Games matches on your server with just players from your library, or you can find matchups against nearby districts through the gtsystem forums. During the week, you can play as many or as few matches against other libraries as you'd like, for your players to get experience, or to choose your eventual tributes, or for grudge matches against rival libraries. These qualifying matches are not required.
Then, on Saturday November 15, there will be a staggered series of final matches in different regions based on timezone. This will be finalized when registrations are final in a few weeks. Each District can send 2 tributes - 1 boy and 1 girl - to the finals. Participation in the finals is also optional. The finals will narrow down the participating field until only a single player remains.... the winner of the first ever INTERNATIONAL MINECRAFT HUNGER GAMES!
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NOW:
Please fill out this quick form so we have your name, email, library, name, and a few other critical things:
A member of the AADL Capitol Team will be in touch to confirm your registration and hand you your gtsystem credentials. Stay tuned to this list for updates and details as we draw closer!
Contact us anytime at email@example.com for help or with questions!
Thanks for your interest and participation and....
MAY THE ODDS BE BETTER ON YOUR SERVER
Hey everyone! Apologies all round for missing this update last month - there was a lot on and I was a little too stretched to cover it all properly. That's still the case, alas, so here are the major headlines from the last couple of months!
Gen Con 2014
Gen Con bills itself as "The Best 4 Days in Gaming", and speaking from personal experience I can attest that it's not a far-fetched claim. Of particular interest to us in library land is that we actually get the best five days in gaming: for the last few years, Gen Con has featured a trade day on the Wednesday before it starts (it normally runs Thursday to Sunday), with streams for retailers, teachers - and librarians. Having attended in 2011 with my partner (a primary teacher) we can vouch for two out of the three! It is an excellent professional development and networking opportunity. Plus you get early entry into the dealers' hall on the following day... and given that Gen Con is the biggest tabletop gaming convention in the US (not the world - that honour goes to Essen Spiel - but with over 55,000 unique attendees, it's pretty big), that's kinda like getting early entry into BookExpo America... if it were twice the size.
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
Of particular interest at this year's Gen Con was the official release of the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Honed in a massive public playtest over the last couple of years, the new edition is - to my eye, and based on a preliminary skim rather than a deep engagement with the rules - a solid distillation of the core elements of the game as it's manifested over the past 40 years and 4 editions (though fans of each previous edition will not find the more outlying features from that edition; it's very much about finding the unifying thread rather than the best individual elements), with a few nice modern design touches thrown in. It's still basically a swords-and-sorcery adventure generator, of course!
Readers with keen memories may recall the discussion of the licensing shifts around previous editions of D&D in the Paizo sponsor profile. It's not yet entirely clear how the third-party licensing will work for this edition, though the fact that this license isn't yet available is already a departure of sorts from both 3rd and 4th editions (as is the fact that only the Player's Handbook has been released - the other two "Core Rulebooks", the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual, come out later this year). However, they have already taken a novel step with the release of a freely reproducible "Basic Rules" document which contains enough rules material to start playing with typical builds of the four best-known classes in the game - fighter, rogue, cleric and wizard. While the material in this PDF is more generic and has fewer customisation options than experienced tabletop roleplayers would like, as an introduction to the basics of the game it works perfectly well. And its price point makes it viable for any library looking for an interesting activity... or, given the potentially endless stories the game enables, an ongoing series of activities.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this edition of the game (and the license for others to contribute to the ruleset) develops!
The ENnie Awards
ENworld.org is... hard to describe, actually. It's the kind of sprawling undertaking - part community forum, part semi-official news site and gossip mill, part collective archive - that seems to spring up disproportionately often among gamer circles; the combination of tech-headedness and a proclivity towards user-creation seems to provide particularly fertile terrain for their growth. Since originally starting back in 1999 as an unofficial clearinghouse for news about 3rd edition D&D, it's gone on to become all the above and more: most noticeably a publisher in its own right (with several substantial publications, both in print and electronic, under its belt now), and - from quite early on, starting online in 2001 and hosting at Gen Con since 2002 - the host of the premier awards in the English-speaking tabletop roleplaying game world, the ENnies.
In the table of nominees below (which was lifted from enworld.org's announcement of nominees), the Silver Award recipient is bolded and the Gold Award recipient is bolded in red - yellow being too hard to read!
PAX Prime and (vs.?) DragonCon
The other biggest gaming convention in the USA - this time focused on videogaming, though in reality both conventions feature plenty of overlap with each other's focus - PAX Prime took over from E3 when that convention made the fatal decision to shift from being open to a general audience towards a more industry-insider event. This year it also expanded to four days, Friday 29 August - Monday 1 September, making it one of the major contestants for Gen Con's "Best 4 days" title - and also placing it 100% in competition with (fellow contestant for best 4 days) general-geek-culture convention DragonCon, which ran on the exact same dates.
(Crowdfunded MMO-in-beta Shroud of the Avatar - Ultima creator Richard Garriott's latest project - cunningly played up this rivalry by running a PvP test pitting players from the two conventions against each other. Despite being the smaller and nominally less game-focused convention, DragonCon won convincingly, 34 to 14.)
More news to cover, and all three conventions have received plenty of other coverage, so we'll move on.
Microsoft buys Mojang (makers of Minecraft) for $2.5 billion. Yes, with a "b".
You presumably know that Minecraft is kind of a big deal. It's sold upwards of 33 million copies, and occupies a healthy chunk of the planet's attention at any given time.
Even so, $2.5 billion seems like a lot. As a point of reference, Oculus, the folks who are likely to be bringing the world a whole new mode of interacting with technology and imagined worlds (they rekindled the push towards head-mounted virtual reality displays with their Kickstarted Rift device), were bought by Facebook not long ago for $2 billion - i.e. less than Mojang.
It seems a little excessive, especially since it can only be a matter of time before the next craze starts, right...? But, as many commentators before me have pointed out, what Microsoft has bought is not just the game, nor the company that made it (indeed, the founders of Mojang are all leaving), but the userbase. An audience - or, to a corporation, a market - of that size is a significant commodity. (An interesting word to apply to a collection of actual humans...)
Minecraft Hunger Games
Before anyone asks - we have no indication that this will have any effect on our plans for the Minecraft Hunger Games. Naturally, if there is any sign of anything changing, we will let you know! But barring the unforeseen, those of you who expressed a desire to participate should be hearing from the good folks at Ann Arbor District Library shortly - and those who have not yet registered should do so pronto - it's not too late until we tell you it is!
Hello everyone! We are back for 2014 and looking forward to a pretty amazing year.
For the first time, we are officially partnering with two international organisations to bring you this event: the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), which is the ALA analogue Down Under, and Nordic Game Day, who have been successfully running game days in Scandinavian libraries alongside IGD for the past few years. Thanks to both groups for throwing their support behind International Games Day @ your library! We're still pretty much a volunteer-run event, but being able to call on the networks and some of the resources of other bodies is a huge help in expanding the reach of the day.
Our Press Kit materials are up on the Press Kit page. ALIA donated some time from their graphic designer to help create the new IGD@yl posters, which I invite you to take a look at - not only has she done a beautiful job, but this year, the date and the blank line below it are actually form fields, making it super-easy to customise the date (if you're celebrating on a different day), add your local details, or even blank out both lines to make space for you to overprint whatever you like in that area.
The loss of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros (with the demise of the Nintendo Wii's multiplayer network) could have been a major obstacle for the videogame tournament that has been part of our history for so long, thanks to Ann Arbor District Library. But the irrepressible folks at AADL have come up with something pretty special to replace it: a worldwide Minecraft Hunger Games. Talk about a meeting of the monster memes! It's going to be spectacular, so stay tuned for more information.
The Global Gossip Game will be on again, and we are already scheming about ways to top last year's trip through all seven continents. Of course, even without that it's still a pretty special event, as the comments from last year make clear! Lovers of the surreal and silly should make sure to sign up.
And of course there is the incredible value that comes from your own events. We're very interested to hear about people's plans for their events, and (if you're willing) to share those ideas with your colleagues around the world. Be in touch if there's something you'd like to contribute to the blog, whether specific ideas for IGD, a general piece on games and play in libraries, or anything else you think is relevant to IGD. (You can use the comments field to contact us - we moderate them, so such offers will only be visible as comments if you want them to be!)
Lastly, the registration form for this year's event is
being finalised as we speak now live at http://bit.ly/igd14, so expect another post shortly with the link. And don't forget to subscribe to this blog to make sure you see every update!
Thanks everyone! We're really looking forward to this coming year, and we hope you are too.
Welcome to 2014's International Games Day @ your library!