By Steve Zalusky
Gaming and libraries are a natural fit. Libraries provide space for community engagement and collective discovery. Gaming in the library brings together not only peers, but also encourages interaction across generations and provides a way for underserved groups to collaborate with the community at large.
On Nov. 19, more than 2,000 libraries around the world will celebrate the 9th annual International Games Day at your library.
IGD is an outgrowth of National Games Day, which was started by Jenny Levine and Scott Nicholson in 2007 as part of an attempt to set a world’s record for the number of people playing the same game at the same time at libraries around the world. National Games Day became IGD in 2012, expanding to all seven continents. IGD has been celebrated in 53 countries and territories.
International Games Day delivers an opportunity for libraries to respond to the growing demand for gaming, as well as to carry out their mission of promoting literacy. As the American Library Association’s “The Librarian’s Guide to Gaming: An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming” explains, “As new technologies, tools and toys have burgeoned over the last 20 years so has our understanding of what constitutes literacy.”
At the Scranton (Connecticut) Memorial Library, Teen Librarian Kirsty Smith said the community room will offer what she calls “a gaming buffet.” For three hours, library users of all ages can visit and play everything from Candyland to adult board games. In addition, she said, users can enjoy a GameCube, computer games and a Jenga set.
“Gaming brings people together,” Smith said. “I think that’s a major goal of the library. So I think it’s important to have different ways to bring people into the library and get them maybe trying something new or meeting people in their community that they have never met before and just creating that sense of community within the library. Games are a great way to do that.”
At the Madison (Wisconsin) Public Library, International Games Day will feature drop-in and pickup games for all age groups, as well as a special presentation by author Michael Witwer in conjunction with the Wisconsin Book Festival. Witwer is the author of “Empire of Imagination,” the story of Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeons & Dragons will be played at the event, which will also include such youth activities as Minecraft and Pokemon Club.
Laura Damon-Moore, community engagement librarian, said, “We want to make sure that our programs reflect the interests of different groups in the community, and I think the gaming community is a very vibrant one, so I think it is important to support that community and extend and expand and complement the work that game stores and gaming organizations already do.”
The library also reached out to the gaming community, resulting in partnerships with such local sponsors as Madison Traditional Gaming. “We are very fortunate here in town to have a number of gaming shops,” she said. “I put out a call to those stores and just asked for people who are interested in helping us program the day to respond.”
Damon-Moore said library offers a variety of gaming programming. “We have a very active Minecraft club at a number of locations. There is a very active chess club,” she said. “Role playing groups will use the central library’s small study rooms. They are sort of ideal for groups of gamers to come in and use those spaces for free. “
In addition, the library has an active Pokemon club.
International Games Day is benefiting from the participation of partners like Bridgeside Interactive, which donated 20 codes for Clapper, the two-player cooperative rhythm and clap game currently available for iPad. Players perform five different types of claps with their partners, recognized via the device camera, to the beat of the music.
Another sponsor is Henry Smith, creator of the tablet and phone game Spaceteam! Spaceteam! Is this year's global game, as International Games Day participants will vie for top spot in the worldwide leader board.
For more information on International Games Day, visit IGD’s website.
Check this map to find a participating library near you.