Gaming Success Stories
Lake City Community College, Lake City, Florida
Gaming Event in the Lake City Community College Library April 14, 2006 5PM-11PM
Seventy gamers that included high school and community college students, parents, local newspaper editor, business people from gaming stores and faculty attended this most successful event. Coordinator Vickie Lepore (reference librarian) attributes the success to the team of seven students and three adults who worked the event. There were two 52" monitors, plus 12 other monitors for Madden, Crimson Skies, Halo, DDR and Project Gotham XBox tournaments. The Anime club brought their own games. People checked out our collection of 35 PC games that were purchased through the community college's Foundation grant, and played on our newly acquired gaming computers. Audio-visual hired a DJ; the library hired Ken Schirrmacher from the Technology Department, who is also a Halo champ and ran several of the tournaments. Student Activities offered free food, and we had very generous sponsors that sent us schwag for our tournament winners and drawings: NVidia, Bawls (energy drinks), Alienware, CaseAce, FunCom, and Aspyr. For a more detailed account, visit the library's blogsite at <http://lcccpopculture.blogspot.com> We discovered that our old library facility is perfectly designed for gaming events, and we are already planning our next event for the summer 2006!
The success of a program is not limited to planning and coordinating. Many possibilities for future gaming events were presented at the Tech Summit for gaming at MLS in the suburban Chicago library system during 2005. The key to making them happen for the Matteson Public Library became the issue of funding. The materials list that we were presented with at the Tech Summit became a tool to both help make our technical decisions and to seek help with financing. This information was passed on to the Youth Services Manager, Judith Vostal and Director, Kathy Berggren. The list was then presented to the local Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club has in the past been a contributor to the library. They made a generous decision to contribute a $1000.00 grant to offset our start-up costs for our gaming program. The new equipment made it possible to implement the program concepts and bring gaming to the Youth Services Department in the Matteson Public Library.
Saturday Game Days at Clinton Public Library, Clinton, Oklahoma
Clinton Public Library is a medium sized library. Some would consider it small. This is a program that can be made to work in a library of almost any size. Of course larger libraries can do it more grandly, but I hope that people will realize that they can have cool gaming programs in their library without big bucks.
The week before the Super Bowl in February 2006, we hosted a Madden 2006 tournament. We had two age brackets to accomadate different skill levels. Connecting my personal X-box and game to a TV in the meeting room, we allowed players to compete while they enjoyed snacks that we had provided. Our room was full. Over forty people attended or participated, and afterward begged us to offer this program again soon. We learned several things from this initial experience, thanks in part to some of the mistakes we had made. The biggest mistake we made was not realizing that the games would take too long. We had overestimated our ability to get everyone adequate playing time, and as a result had to rush things along. A decent game takes a full half-hour. Encouraged by our success we decided to run the program again.
The next month we held an NCAA March Madness tournament, this time borrowing a Play Station 2 and the game from library employees. We split the tournament into two smaller ones based on age groups and held the tournament on two different evenings. The attendance of the tournament for younger people was high, but almost no one showed up for the older tournament. We looked into the causes of this and found that weeknights were a poor time to schedule these tournaments.
THE CURRENT PROGRAM
Recognizing this as a great way to draw in youth, especially male youth, we have decided to build the program up and add more to it, in order to attract a wider audience. We are beginning to host two Saturday game days a month. We have invested about $60 in board games which we leave on the tables. Part of these board games we bought used, but most are new. The first game day of each month we hold a video game tournament, which varies from month to month. On the second game day of each month we will host a Yu-Gi-Oh tournament. We have yet to host our initial Yu-Gi-Oh tournament, but the sign-up sheet we provided is filling very quickly.
We just held the first of these game days. We borrowed a staff member’s PS2 and one of our teenagers loaned us FIFA Soccer. Our attendance was high, and the youth enjoyed the entertainment we provided. We hope that some day the board games will one day serve as a program of their own, but right now we seem to be building good support by simply hosting the board games simultaneously with the video game. When the video gamers are not playing, they enjoy playing uno, scrabble, checkers, chess, battleship, and more.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Here is the part you really want to know. Below are the fundamental keys to making a similar program work in any library.
1) Find out what the youth want to play. Involving them will increase their ownership of the program.
2) Don’t worry about buying everything. If you can supply the TV, borrow the rest. I recommend borrowing the gaming console from a staff member if possible. They are less likely to hold you responsible if the machine suddenly stops working. But go ahead and feel free to ask teens to donate the use of their games, giving them a reward of some kind (food is the best reward for youth)
3) If at all possible, get a mature teenager who is familiar with these kinds of things to monitor. I know nothing of Yu-Gi-Oh, but we have recruited about four teenagers to help us out. This is a great opportunity to work with the school library’s literary group! You do not have to do it all yourself.
4) Require advanced registration. Get their names and phone numbers, and then make a bracket out. You can download free tournament brackets at www.darters.com . Schedule players in the bracket and then notify them of what time their first game is set.
5) Leave room for alternate players. Is some one cancels or is late, don’t dally. Go directly to an alternate who is their and ready to play.
6) A prize is not always necessary. Males ( who will be your primary audience in the video game and Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments) enjoy bragging rights above all else. A simple trinket or certificate will make their day.
7) Remember that this is fun.
8) Don’t worry about whether the participants are checking anything out. Just make sure the resources are available. They will eventually grow curious.
9) Find the day that works best for your audience, wheter it be an evening or a weekend.
10) Requiring a library card is no problem, especially for the video game tournament. Teenagers will be begging their guardian to get them a library card.
This can be a low cost program. Use volunteers. If you want to provide refreshments, talk to your friends group or local businesses. They are often eager to help out with youth programming. The only true rule to how much you spend is that the bigger your library, the more elaborate and professional you must make it appear.