National Gaming Day @ my library

National Gaming Day 2011National Gaming Day @ your library, a project of the ALA, was last weekend, 11/12/11. Talk about a flop! The only person who played a game was someone working the circulation desk!

So what went wrong?

First and foremost, I put the games out on NGD, which fell on a Saturday. That makes perfect sense for public libraries — if kids are in school and parents at work M-F, Saturday is the perfect day for games! Even at predominantly residential colleges and universities, it makes sense — students are taking a break on Saturday before the pressure of due dates hit them on Sunday. At a regional university, where most students go home on the weekends, Saturday is not such a hot day. Next year, I’ll probably plan something for the Thursday before NGD.

Secondly, I threw it together at (relatively) the last minute. I just started this job in September. So I didn’t have much lead time, even if I had jumped in to planning this right away… Which I didn’t! I sent out a call for board games to the all-faculty list, but wasn’t really confident that we would have enough until a big donation came in the Monday before NGD. So I didn’t publicize as well as I could have.

Next year, I will do a much better job with this! With more lead time, I will get hooked up early with other departments, including Residence Life. Another department on campus organizes “Stay” weekends, during which they plan events to try to get students to stay on campus that weekend — they’re trying to build this university into a “destination university” where people want to spend their weekends, instead of a regional university where people go home every weekend. If I can get listed on their calendar that they hand out during orientation, especially if we can do something big like a modified Humans Vs. Zombies game, then we might try again to make the Saturday event work.

Finally, we don’t have the right hook-ups to plug video games into our large monitors or projectors yet (we’re working on getting them installed, but that takes time!). I think this one thing would have made a big difference this year. On Saturday, we had traffic in the library — not as much as on a weekday, but it wasn’t totally empty. The problem was that we had single individuals scattered around the library, no big groups of friends studying together. It’s a lot easier for random strangers to come together to play a video game on a large screen against one another than to get them to commit the time for a game of monopoly against a total stranger. So, hopefully the right kinds of input plugs will be installed in time for NGD next year!

And, realistically, once those inputs are installed, do you really think we’ll wait for NGD to roll around again before having a video game night? So, maybe by then it will be a regular event!

So, I tried and it flopped. Oh well. At least I now have a stash of board games to pull out for our Stress Free Zone during finals week! And next year can only get better, right?!

Of course, if you have suggestions on what I can do, in addition to the above general improvements, to make NGD 2012 a success, please post them!

One thought on “National Gaming Day @ my library

  1. NGD is a bit of a struggle for us, too. Even at a school where students are on campus all weekend, Saturdays are a tough sell. That said, we’ve tried the Thursday prior without much success either. This year, we partnered with our local public library. We have more space and equipment, they have an established gaming audience. It was our best year yet, but still no more than a few dozen people playing. I’m not convinced it makes sense as a “once a year” thing – I think your impulse to make it a regular event is a good one.

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