3 Things to Remember about Gaming in the Library

by Brad McNally, former Head Editor, INALJ Ohio
previously published 8/12/13

3 Things to Remember about Gaming in the Library

brad.mcnallyI won’t lie: I love gaming. Luckily, many patrons in my library seem to as well (it helps that they are teens). Not everyone working in libraries feels the same about gaming in general, and especially not in the library. Some librarians like the idea, but aren’t sure where to go with it or if what they are considering is a good idea or not. Here are three important things to remember about gaming in the library.

1. It isn’t just video games…

There is an entire culture around gaming and the word means different things to different people. Gaming can be video games, but it can also be physical games, board games, tabletop and role playing games, or any other number of things. Sometimes, things cross medium as well. Some video games can be adapted into a real world obstacle game. This could be something as simple as a physical Angry Birds game using green balloons for pigs and red dodge balls for birds (with a few boxes setup as well). All these different types of games can be used in your library. Talk to patrons and see what games they are into. If they enjoy it, others might as well.

2. Games are a form of storytelling…

I have had this conversation with several staff people recently. A book is a story that you read, a movie is one that you watched, and a game is one you interact with. For example, my wife and I just both play a game on the PS3. She spends her time in it building up skills and using them well. I spend my time in it smashing through enemies with a big sword. The story changes based on the decisions we have made, so it is different each time.  You also are able to set your own storyline by choosing what to do next at any given time. Other games let you make moral decisions and decide if your character is good or evil. Games such as the Fable series, the Mass Effect series, or the Dragon Age series all make sure that your decisions have an effect on the in-game world.

3. Have fun…

Games are fun. Yes, they can be an extremely involved storytelling experience. Yes, they can cause teens to be loud and wild in the library. Play along – you might enjoy it! Even if it doesn’t seem like your thing, it could be a nice surprise. For example, you may have never pictured yourself playing Dungeons and Dragons, but an RPG based on Outbreak: Undead that puts you fighting zombies might be a bit more up your alley.