International Games Week October 29 – November 4

International Games Week

November update – nearly there!

Posted on November 3, 2014

Hi everyone! Less than two weeks to go till the big day - and it will be a big one this year! Even before the usual last-week spike in registrations, we are already at over 1200 participating libraries, including (to my considerable pride) over 50 here in Australia! And the list of international locations is growing, too, with over 30 countries and territories already on our books: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Nigeria, the Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, UK, and USA.

That's a lot of us all over the planet coming together to enjoy each other's company as we celebrate games, play, learning, community, and libraries. And it's something pretty special we're all making possible for each other. I know our readers are busy and tend to read in a hurry, but it might be a nice idea to send each other messages and well-wishes in the comments... no pressure, but I'm sure you're all sick of hearing from me, and hearing from each other might be quite a nice change 🙂

To the practicalities!

Donations

All donors have been notified of your donation requests, and they should be on their way. We've had confirmation from Steve Jackson, Ravensburger, USAopoly, and Australian sponsor Good Games that they've shipped their games; however, lack of confirmation most likely just means they're too busy to get in touch - it's a pretty crazy time of year for games vendors! (If you've requested donations from other donors and received them, please let us know in the comments below.)

Even more generous than we expected

Due to a glitch in our registration survey, which was supposed to stop offering donations once the quota had been reached, but decided to just ignore those limits, most donors have had to deal with a slight overage. Thanks to all of them for their generosity in taking this in their stride!

Steve Jackson Games were an exception deserving special mention here... there was nothing "slight" about being faced with shipping over 400 games more than they originally planned to ship. But they unflinchingly agreed - for which I reckon they deserve a round of applause over and above the general gratitude.

So whoever sent you gifts for your IGD celebrations, be sure to write to them and express your appreciation for their support of libraries - it's even greater than we knew! Feel free to drop a note into the comments below too.

Global Gossip Game

I'm in the middle of generating the the Global Gossip Game instructions (literally, I'm taking a break from that job to post this), and hope to have it done in the next day or two. PAX Aus was on the weekend, and I was too exhausted at the end of each day to do much.

I have completed the schedule, however, and in most cases I have managed to get everyone the time they preferred.

In some respects the GGG will be bigger than ever this year too - although we're sadly not going to make it to Antarctica or Africa this year, we have a record-breaking 80 libraries in 16 jurisdictions joining us, including one of the world's greats - the British Library!

International Minecraft Hunger Games

The good folks at AADL have been sent a list of everyone who had registered as of the end of October, and will be sending out emails to everyone about their game shortly, if they haven't already; more updates on that as I get them! Their servers will be open for testing this week and competition will be able to begin as of next week.

As is the case each year, this inter-library videogame contest is entirely the work and brainchild of AADL - they organise it and offer it to us all entirely at their own initiative. Even if you're not planning to participate, that's an exceptionally generous and, well, library-like thing to do - so please do feel free thank them even if you're not playing in their game!

 

I think that's it! I'll be back in touch as there's news to share, and of course GGG libraries will be hearing from me soon, but meanwhile, thank you for making this remarkable event possible, and Happy International Games Day to all of you!

Sponsor Profile: Steve Jackson Games

Posted on July 24, 2014

Steve Jackson Games is one of the icons of the US - and indeed global - game industry. They have everything from casual tabletop games, to more involved family games, to their own roleplaying game line, to crunchy strategy games, to apps and online modes of play.

Their casual games include the Munchkin family of games, which has been running for 13 years and shows no sign of slowing down its satirical take on new genres - having started with a heroic fantasy theme, they have quickly moved on to affectionately mock the clichés of space opera, superhero comics, zombie movies, paranormal thrillers, Lovecraftian horror, spy films, Westerns, post-apocalyptic sci-fi... I don't think they've got to noir or romance yet, but it's probably only a matter of time. (Oh - and the base set is also among the donations you can get for free this year!)

GURPS, their Generic Universal Role-Playing System, likewise covers a huge range of genres, but from a less mischievous angle (mostly). Instead, it provides a basic set of rules for creating characters and resolving story actions, and then offers a hugely modular set of rules and setting information to allow you to play through stories in almost any milieu imaginable. All the geek genres above are covered, but so are the Ice Age; both fantastic and historical versions of past Earth civilisations such as the Aztecs, Celts, Greeks, various Chinese dynasties, the Old West and more; near- and far-future science fiction; magical realism; a range of other fiction franchises, such as Star Trek, R.E. Howard's Conan, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Discworld, Hellboy, and the Vorkosigan Saga; and more. And because they all use the same basic ruleset, they all interoperate! So if you want to tell a story about, say, US conscripts and Viet Cong in mid-battle suddenly falling through a portal to a distant science-fantasy world, you can.

These are only a few of their offerings - they also do crunchy tactical games, single-die push-your-luck games, reprints of obscure classics, and more! You can see a great selection on our donations page, and the full range at their website! But I wanted to move on, because awesome as all their games are, there's more of interest to libraries about this particular sponsor.

You see, Steve Jackson Games was a central figure in the early skirmishes in the battle over the government's interception and seizure of private information, and their case was one of the catalysts for the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, leading defenders of freedom online. It's a terrific story, though indubitably it must have been awful to go through - it nearly put SJG out of business - and one told very well by SJG themselves, as well as Bruce Sterling in his book The Hacker Crackdown. I recommend you read at least the SJG page linked above, in which the US Secret Service appears to exhibit one or both of:

  • the same tendency to indiscriminately violate the rights of people adjacent but unrelated to the actual subject of their inquiry (in this case, computers from the home and workplace of someone who had talked to hackers for a writing project) that has now metastasized into programs like PRISM.
  • the kind of inability to distinguish the imaginary from the real that people used to worry about gamers supposedly showing.

If you're interested in knowing more, there are more source documents on the SJG site, and the court documents are available at http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15578406156657124091.

I can't help but think, though, that if game publishers back then[1] were accorded a comparable degree of cultural respect to book publishers, we might have seen an even stronger response to such a blatant violation of the rights of a premier independent publisher with an international reputation - perhaps even one that might have slowed the rise of the surveillance state? It's a might-have-been, of course, but nonetheless it's a sobering thought that our assumption that play and everything about it is inherently trivial might have had such a serious cost.

So thank you, Steve Jackson Games - for producing games in every flavour of fun from frothy silliness to strategic depth, for donating some of them to libraries for International Games Day, and for being the canary in the mine that helped kickstart the movement for online freedom.

   
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