International Games Day 2014

International Games Day @ your library is a chance to celebrate games and libraries, not to mention the communities that both help to create and sustain, with other library-lovers around the world. On Saturday, November 15, 2014, people all over the planet will join together to celebrate the mutually-reinforcing power of play and learning.

And when we say "all over the world", we mean it. International Games Day @ your library has visited every continent on Earth - even Antarctica!  Check out this map to find an event at a library near you.

What is International Games Day @ your library?

Basically, it's just a date when a whole bunch of libraries all over the world agree to play games in a spirit of co-operation.

The games can be anything the library and community in question likes: previously, libraries have hosted "learn to play chess" days, board games, card games, trivia games, tabletop roleplaying games, online videogame tournaments, and social games that travel the entire world.

But this description doesn't come close to doing it justice. Here are some actual comments from public and library staff on previous days:

  • “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!' "
  • “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.”
  • “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…and she WON!”
  • “My favorite part of the day had to be hearing the teens cheer for each other during the Brawl contests and clap at the end of the battles. They all got along so well, even though we had quite a range of ‘teenagers’ – 8 to 18!”
  • “The program helped to give parents ideas on ways to become more involved with their children.”
  • “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.”
  • “There were complaints during the semi-finals of the chess tournament that one of the finalists only won because the other finalist was giving her tips - because he would rather play against the little girl than her big brother. Whether that was true or not, she can't have needed the tips overly, since she wound up winning the final round as well...”
  • "When I peeked into the room, I was surprised to see that all of the teens were--at one point in time at least--playing the board games rather than video games."
  • “This is the coolest day! The library is awesome.”

For more information, here are the final reports on previous years:

2013   2012    2011    2010    2009  

How does a library participate?

All a library has to do to be part of International Games Day @ your library is host some sort of games-related activity, which can be as simple or as elaborate as you are inspired and able to make it, on or around Saturday November 15, 2014. Registration is free and makes libraries eligible to appear on our map and maybe even receive some donations from nearby sponsors!

If you are a library looking to participate, read our FAQ to help figure out first steps. There are also a range of promotional materials available for libraries to use which are available for free and can be modified and remixed as your local library's needs dictate.

If you’re a gamer who wants to encourage their local library to participate, we have information to help get you started.

And if you're a game business anywhere from a friendly local game store to a major publisher or distributor and would like to support International Games Day, there's a guide just for you.

Why games in libraries?

Libraries are about sharing culture and information, and games are a form of culture that you often have to share – you often can't experience them without another player!

They're also good for brain health, and foster important life skills like socialization, theory of mind and systems literacy. Plus, they're fun!

Whether video games, tabletop games, social games or other kinds of games, they’re all a part of culture whose importance is only becoming clearer with time. And that means we need to foster the kind of smart engagement that libraries support, for games as well as books. Learn more about these issues and join the discussion.

From American Libraries magazine, watch a teen gaming tournament at Oak Park (Ill.) Public Library, with an interview with Young Adult Librarian Monica Harris, who explains why and how the library got into gaming and the benefits it offers the library and the community.

Librarians – want to get your library involved?  Learn more at

Also from American Libraries, see scenes from the ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium in Oak Brook, Illinois, November 2-4. Of particular interest is Eli Neiburger's story, beginning at 2:58.


Why is the American Library Association promoting gaming in libraries?

1. Aren’t libraries about books and reading?

In the 21st century, libraries are about much more than books! In fact, libraries work very hard to provide people of all ages with a rich and current menu of CDs and DVDs, as well as electronic and online resources. Video game resources and programs at the library complement these existing services. Featuring this new gaming media helps the library expand its reach while meeting community expectations.

2. Aren’t video games just a passing fad?

Actually, video games have been popular for more than 30 years. In fact, three generations have grown up with video games - Generation X, Generation Y, and Millennials. It’s not only today’s kids who are playing video games. The average age of today’s gamer is 35-years old, and Baby Boomers and Seniors are playing them more than ever before. Libraries across the country are offering family gaming nights that bring generations together for a gaming experience they can’t share anywhere else.

3. Why should kids play video games at the library?

Lots of kids play video games at home – alone, with siblings, or with friends. The library is a safe and non-commercialized space. At the library, kids socialize with their friends and play video games while surrounded by books, librarians, and knowledge. Video gaming at the library encourages young patrons to interact with diverse peers, share their expertise with others (including adults), and develop new strategies for gaming and learning.

4. How do librarians choose video games that are appropriate for our kids?

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has established criteria for rating video games. In 2008, 85% of the video games sold were rated “EC” (Early Childhood), “E” (Everyone), “E10+” (Everyone 10 and older), or “T” (Teens ages 13 and older).

These games are available to libraries and are considered “family friendly.” In addition to using the ESRB to guide game selection, librarians do extensive research about the recommended games and play them before they are introduced to kids. Games recommended for use in libraries often have a more social component that brings people together around the content, making the whole experience more fun when played with others.

5. What do kids learn when they play games at the library?

Video games give kids a chance to practice reading, writing, and computing in the library’s safe environment. Popular video games, the ones that kids really like to play, are immediately engaging and make them work hard to succeed and ‘level up’. While playing these games, kids are constantly developing new strategies, predicting possible outcomes, managing multiple resources, reading and deciphering maps, tracking complex statistics, and adapting to increasingly difficult levels within the game. They learn a range of media literacies beyond basic reading that give them models for navigating our information-rich world.